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Husky Power Dogsledding, MD

Hike! Photo courtesy Husky Power Dogsledding.

Live out your Iditarod dreams without leaving the Ohio Valley by heading over to Husky Power Dogsledding near Deep Creek Lake, MD, where you can get a chance to run a team of eager dogs through 600-plus acres of woods.

“It’s thrilling and it never ceases to be thrilling,” says Linda Herdering, who owns the business with her husband, Mike Herdering. The thrill, says Linda, is “to watch the dogs do what they have to do and see how powerful they are. That excitement they have is contagious.”

True: there is a raw, primal excitement as you watch the dogs being attached to the rope line that will pull the sled. They bark, howl and jump, creating a canine ruckus. Once you yell “Hike!” the dogs go completely silent and they’re off – with you in tow. Husky Power runs on a no snow, no problem system where you can mush on a sled (snow) or wheels (no snow).

Try the 1 ½-hour-long Mushing Experience option on the menu – it’s more physical when you get a chance to control the sled yourself as the team of huskies – Alaskan and Siberian – pull you over miles of trails. It doesn’t take a lot of fitness, but you will likely break a sweat maintaining control over the sled, even in the cold weather these dogs need.

As for yourself, dress for standing around in the cold, since that is what you’ll be doing during the educational portion of the tour, where Linda and Mike will fill you in on all things husky and dogsledding. And if you long for more activity, you can always ask Mike – who sometimes forgets he’s not a Marine colonel any more – to yell, “Drop and give me 30!”

The operation is open all year, but the running season is generally September through April; the dogs can’t handle running in warm weather. Tours and even visits are by reservation only and they fill up fast on holiday weekends, so be sure to call ahead. Once a month Husky Power provides a presentation to the public that does not require reservations ($15) – check the website for dates.

Where it’s at: About two hours from Pittsburgh, just a couple of miles from Deep Creek Lake, MD. From I-68 four miles east of the WV/MD border, take MD 42 (exit 4) south eight miles to where it merges with US 219 south/Garrett Highway. Travel another 1.5 miles to Mosser Road on the left. Take it ¼ mile to Bumble Bee Road, which is the left fork. Go two miles to Husky Power on the right. Note – you can’t just show up to look around. Make reservations in advance.

Contact: www.huskypowerdogsledding.com or (301) 746-7200

Digs: Herrington Manor State Park has cabins for 2-6 people from $80-$100 (two-night stay required and pets are not allowed), www.dnr.state.md.us or 888-432-2267; Garrett State Forest has Appalachian Trail-style shelters for $15/night, www.dnr.state.md.us or (301) 334-2038

Grub: Uno Chicago Grill, www.deepcreekuno.com or (301) 387-4UNO

Brew: Mountain State Brewing Company, www.mountainstatebrewing.com or (301) 387-3360

Gear and Outfitting: High Mountain Sports, www.highmountainsports.com or (301) 387-4199

Cost: Mushing experience runs $195 per person, Group tours for $300 allow up to 10 participants