24 AMAZING NATIONAL PARKS IN MARYLAND
24 AMAZING NATIONAL PARKS IN MARYLAND, Did you know theU.S. public hymn began in Maryland? It was in thisMid-AtlanticU.S. state that the Star Spangled Banner came into being. Steeped in history, there are numerous effects to do in Maryland, including exploring an array of public premises .
While there are no capital letter national parks in Maryland, there are 23 amazing national park service sites, including national battlefields, parkways, historic trails and more. Whether you’re interested in learning about the state’s history, get those miles along a scenic trail or visit a national seashore, Maryland has you covered. Check out these top 24 national parks in Maryland for your next trip to the east coast.
NATIONAL PARKS IN MARYLAND
1- ANTIETAM NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD
The Battle of Antietam marked the bloodiest day in the American Civil War.
The park in western Maryland incorporates the historic battlefield and a museum.
The Battle of Antietam occurred on 17 September 1862, whereby Confederate General Robert E. Lee marched his army across the Potomac River into Maryland.
Right near Antietam Creek, Lee met the Union forces who were led by Major General George B. McClellan.
Around 100,000 soldiers were involved in the battle, and just under a quarter lost their lives.
The next evening General Lee withdrew his troops, and President Lincoln considered this the start of freedom for enslaved people in the south of America.
You can take an 8.5-mile (13.7 km) self-guided tour of the battlefield at the park visiting 11 stops around the battlefield, where you can learn more about the history of the battle.
Also, visit the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, General McClellan’s headquarters, during the battle.
The Antietam National Battlefield is at 302 E Main Street, Sharpsburg.
2- MONOCACY NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD
The Confederacy had the chance in 1864 to march through the Shenandoah Valley to Washington D.C., with hardly any opposition.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee led an attack with 15,000 troops, but Union Major General Lew Wallace found out about this surprise attack and sent more than 6,000 troops to Monocacy Junction.
It was on 9 July 1864 that the troops did battle, which resulted in General Wallace’s troops finally retreating.
While at the park, you can wander around 6 miles (9.6 km) of trails that show and inform you about the battlefield.
This is a fabulous place to connect with the outdoors and learn about Maryland’s history.
Monocacy National Battlefield is at 5201 Urbana Pike, Frederick.
NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL
3- APPALACHIAN NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a world-famous hiking trail and at 2,200 miles (3540 km), it’s also one of the longest hiking trails in the world.
Start at Spring Mountain in Georgia and hike to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
The Appalachian trail travels through 14 states and Maryland is one of them.
Hiking the whole of a state’s section of the trail is usually a monumental task, but Maryland’s 41 miles (65 km) of the trail is far more manageable.
Maryland’s trail has gentler terrain and passes along some interesting historical sites.
Follow the southernmost three miles of the trail along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath for a lovely afternoon of exploring.
4- POTOMAC HERITAGE NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is another unique east coast trail.
Although not as long as the Appalachian Trail, the Potomac Trail winds its way through the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia for 700 miles (1126 km).
This trail follows the history and geology of the Potomac River.
Again, you can explore parts of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, which runs for 184 miles (296 km).
This is the best part of Maryland’s section of the Potomac trail.
5- ASSATEAGUE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
The Assateague Island National Seashore staddles Maryland and Virginia.
This national seashore is the perfect outdoor escape with beaches and recreational activities.
Separated into Maryland District in the north and Virginia District in the south, if you are looking to explore both, you’ll need to drive back through the mainland to reach the other side as there is no road connecting the two areas.
Both seashores have so much to offer, including beaches, hiking trails, horse riding and marshes.
Maryland District also offers opportunities for camping.
People love Assateague Island because of the landscape’s diversity. From marshes to beaches, this barrier island is so fun to explore.
NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL
6- CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH CHESAPEAKE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL
British explorer John Smith began exploring the Chesapeake Bay in 1608.
He was responsible for documenting and mapping the native tribes in the area.
The trail is long at 3,000 miles (4828 km), it connects 12 national parks, three trails and 16 National Wildlife Refuges.
In Maryland, there are several areas you can visit, including the Billy Goat Trail near Potomac, which is a protected area with serene views of the Potomac River.
Explore the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail, which is incorporated into the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trial.
7- STAR-SPANGLED BANNER NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL
The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is 560 miles (900 km) long and leads explorers along the War of 1812 battlefield sites.
At the Battle of Fort McHenry in Maryland in 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, which became America’s national anthem.
Many visitors head to Fort McHenry when travelling to Maryland, as it’s one of the most popular stops along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.
The 30’x 42′ flag at Fort McHenry was the one Francis Scott Key saw on 14 September 1814, inspiring him to write his poem.
A visit to Fort McHenry is one of the best things to do in Maryland.
8- WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL
Another trail that follows America’s history is the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, which starts in New Hampshire and ends in Virginia, passing through Maryland.
During the Revolutionary War, General Washington’s Continental Army and General Rochambeau’s army joined forces to fight against the British.
In Maryland, there are many things to see and do along the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, like visiting the Baltimore National Heritage Area or the Thomas Stone National Historic Site.
NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARKS AND SITES
9- CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park is featured along many historic trails that pass through Maryland and is an excellent place to explore.
The canals around Maryland played a pivotal role in transporting goods and services before highways.
During the 19th century, coal and agricultural products were transported along the Potomac River.
Today this historic park meanders for 184.5 miles (296 km) and you can hike, bike or even enjoy a paddle along the canal.
If you are staying in Maryland and want to escape to nature, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park is a fantastic place to go.
10- HARRIET TUBMAN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, which she was born into, and went on to rescue around 70 enslaved people.
She was both an abolitionist and a social activist.
This national historic park commemorates the life of Harriet Tubman and her tireless efforts towards helping enslaved African Americans.
This park opened in 2013 and includes some of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Head to the visitors centre, where there are numerous exhibits about Tubman’s life and legacy, a garden, a research library and a gift shop.
This national historic park is at 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek.
11- CLARA BARTON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Clara Barton was a teacher, nurse and humanitarian who founded the American Red Cross.
This national historic site dates back to 1974 and commemorates her life and work.
This site was the headquarters of the American Red Cross and Barton’s home for 15 years.
You can explore the building that was constructed in 1891.
Its 30 rooms were used for a variety of things, including the basement, which kept disaster supplies.
Explore the house and see what life was like a century ago.
You can find the Clara Barton National Historic Site at 5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo.
12- HAMPTON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Colonel Charles established the Hampton Estate in 1745, becoming one of the key industrial and agricultural empires.
At one point in time, it was one of the largest private homes in America.
When visiting Hampton National Historic Site, you’ll step back in time to this 18th-century Georgian home.
You’ll enjoy a self-guided tour of the mansion, farm and living history stations.
Hampton National Historic Site is at 535 Hampton Lane, Towson.
13- THOMAS STONE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Continental Congress member, Thomas Stone, was one of the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence.
Stone purchased the Harber de Venture estate in 1770.
Nearly 200 years after his death, the National Park Service purchased the renamed Haberdeventure estate in 1981.
While at the Thomas Stone National Historic Site, wander along the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) Outbuildings Trail past interesting things, including the Horse Barn, Tenant House, Corn Crib and Tobacco Barn.
There is a decent visitor centre where you can learn more about Stone’s role in the Declaration of Independence.
The Thomas Stone National Historic Site is at 6655 Rose Hill Road, Port Tabacco.
NATIONAL MONUMENT AND HISTORIC SHRINE
14- FORT MCHENRY NATIONAL MONUMENT AND HISTORIC SHRINE
One of Maryland’s most famous national park sites, Fort McHenry, epitomises the birth of America.
This was the site where Francis Scott Key, during the War of 1812, wrote the Star-Spangled Banner, which is now America’s national anthem.
You know the one… “O! Say can you see…”
Key saw the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during this historic war.
Despite the conflict, the American flag still flew high and proud at Fort McHenry, and this inspired Key to write his poem.
Don’t miss a visit to Fort McHenry and start your trip at the visitor’s centre to gather information about this historic site, see exhibits and watch videos.
Take a self-guided tour of the fort, where information boards offer details of the War of 1812 and the fight for independence.
Fort McHenry is at 2400 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore.
15- CATOCTIN MOUNTAIN PARK
This park is in the Catoctin Mountain Range and within Maryland’s Appalachian Trail system.
There are a bunch of outdoor activities to enjoy at Catoctin Mountain Park.
In winter, go cross-country skiing along roads that are closed to vehicles.
There are campsites such as Owens Creek Campground and Misty Mount Cabin Camping.
You can hike to your heart’s content, fish, horse ride, rock climb and more.
Catoctin Mountain Park is at 14707 Park Central Road, Thurmont.
16- FORT FOOTE PARK
Fort Foote has its origins deep in American history and was constructed in 1863 as part of a series of fortifications that were to protect Washington D.C., from attack.
If you visit the park today, you can still explore Fort Foote, which is surrounded by beautiful forest and the bastions have been well preserved.
Fort Foote Park is at 8915 Fort Foote Road, Fort Washington.
17- FORT WASHINGTON PARK
Fort Washington was named after America’s first President, George Washington.
If you are in the area, head to the park for a picnic. There is ample space and tables and grills for BBQs.
This park is at 13551 Fort Washington Road, Fort Washington.
18- GLEN ECHO PARK
This is another of the best national parks in Maryland and a dream of Edwin Baltzley, who invented the eggbeater and liked to design parks too.
Today this park focuses on arts and culture.
There is a carousel for the kids to enjoy as well as a gallery and places to take dance classes.
You’ll find this park at 7300 Macarthur Boulevard, Glen Echo.
19- GREENBELT PARK
Are you wanting to find a camping spot in Maryland? Then head to Greenbelt Park.
Located on the greenbelt, this park is an ideal and convenient escape from city life.
There is a 172-site campground, along with nine miles of beautiful trails and three large picnic areas.
Camping is super affordable at this park, at only $20 per night.
This park is at 6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt.
20- HARMONY HALL
Along the Potomac River, the 18th-century Harmony Hall Mansion sits on 62.5 acres (100 ha) of open pasture.
The National Park Service acquired the land in 1966 to preserve it as part of Maryland’s cultural heritage.
Take a tour of the hall and wander around the grounds. This is a great morning activity in Fort Washington.
Harmony Hall is at 13551 Fort Washington Road, Fort Washington.
21- PISCATAWAY PARK
Piscataway Park is the go-to place for wildlife lovers and offers the opportunity to spot bald eagles, deer, foxes, beavers and ospreys.
The park is home to a public fishing pier and boardwalks that pass over wetlands.
There are nature trails to explore that meander through meadows and woodlands.
You can also check out the National Colonial Farm, which showcases the area’s 18th-century agriculture.
Piscataway Park is at 3400 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek.
22- GEORGE WASHINGTON MEMORIAL PARKWAY
This parkway is designed specifically for recreational driving, with plenty of vantage points and recreational areas to stop off on your way along the road.
This parkway runs along the Potomac River in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
It’s 25 miles (40km) in length and is an excellent route to take if travelling between the two states.
23- BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON PARKWAY
The Baltimore-Washington Parkway connects many interesting things to do in the area, including the aforementioned Greenbelt Park just off Route 193.
There is also the NASA Visitor Center and the Greenbelt Museum is another excellent stop-off along the parkway.