One way to approach Maryland's history is through its historic trails. Maintained by government agencies, such as the Office of Tourism, the State Highway Administration, and the National Park Service, these trails follow paths over which historical figures strode (or sailed!). From colonial explorations of Captain John Smith over Chesapeake Bay and its inlands, to Harriet Tubman's routes on the Underground Railroad, these trails crisscross the whole State, and were integral to the expansion and advancement of the nation.
Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg (Washington County), Maryland, October 2013. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Antietam Campaign: Lee Invades Maryland Trail
Covering 90 miles, the Antietam Campaign: Lee Invades Maryland trail follows the movements of the Union army under Major General George B. McClellan and Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee as they traveled towards each other in September 1862, meeting near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The trail also passes through Virginia, and West Virginia.
Dunker Church, Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg (Washington County), Maryland, October 2013. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Better known as the Appalachian Trail, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, winds through the Appalachian Mountains across 14 states, from Maine to Georgia, for a distance of over 2,180 miles. Construction on the Trail began in 1921 and finished in 1937. In Maryland, the Trail extends 41 miles along South Mountain in Washington County and is considered an easy to moderate walk for hikers.
Attack on Washington: The Last Invasion
The Attack on Washington: The Last Invasion trail follows the route taken by Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early's army in July 1864 when it invaded Maryland and attacked Washington, DC. The trail also follows the routes taken by Confederate cavalry forces under Brigadier General Bradley Johnson and Major Harry Gilmor after they were sent to cut communication and railroad lines around Baltimore and to free the 15,500 prisoners held at Point Lookout in St. Mary's County. The trail also passes through Washington, DC, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Best Farm, Monocacy National Battlefield, Frederick (Frederick County), Maryland, May 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Baltimore: A House Divided
The Baltimore: A House Divided trail includes sites both in Baltimore and in the surrounding counties. In Baltimore, the Riot Trail follows the route taken by the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment on April 19, 1861 when, while transferring to a Washington-bound train, it was attacked by Confederate sympathizers in the first bloodshed of the Civil War.
Baltimore Civil War Museum at President St. Station, 601 President St., Baltimore, Maryland, September 2014. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Established in 2007 as the first national water trail, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail travels over 3,000 miles along the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. The trail, which includes land trails for drivers and hikers, follows the routes taken by Captain John Smith during his exploration of the Bay and offers access to nearly 100 historic sites in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.
Travelers on the Smith Trail can use the Boater's Guide, as well as Smart Buoys, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS). The buoys are located at 10 sites throughout the Bay and alert boaters to water and weather conditions, navigation aids, and historical descriptions of the area from the early 1600s.
Captain John Smith, engraving by Simon van de Passe, 1616, Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, 100 Lafayette St., Havre de Grace, Maryland, June 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Frederick Douglass Driving Tour Map
The Frederick Douglass Driving Tour begins on the Eastern Shore, where Douglass was born, and follows his journey through Annapolis and Baltimore before ending in Washington DC.
Gettysburg: Invasion & Retreat Trail
The Gettysburg: Invasion & Retreat trail is actually five separate routes through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. These trails follow the Union Army of the Potomac under Major General George G. Meade and Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee during June and July 1863, as they traveled north towards each other and to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway runs 125 miles from Cambridge to the Delaware border and explores the Underground Railroad, as well as the culture of Maryland's Eastern Shore during the 1850s. The trail includes the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center and State Park, the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and Tuckahoe State Park.
Maryland Monument, Gettysburg National Battlefield, Pennsylvania, June 2014. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an Assassin
The John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an Assassin trail follows the escape route taken by Maryland actor John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865 at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, until his death in Port Royal, Virginia, on April 26, 1865. The 90-mile tour includes sites in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia.
Ford's Theatre, 511 10th St. NW, Washington, DC, May 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, which was established in 1983, is actually a network of trails that extends over 700 miles through Maryland, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and Virgina. It connects different trails and sites that relate to the nature, history, and culture of the Potomac River region. In Maryland, the Trail includes the Great Allegheny Passage rail-trail in Cumberland, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the Southern Maryland Potomac Heritage Trail Bicycling Route.
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
Opened in July 2012, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is a War of 1812 trail. It follows British military movements along the Chesapeake Bay from 1812 to 1815. Paths extend through Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Star-Spangled Banner Geotrail
A companion to the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Star-Spangled Banner Geotrail covers more than thirty sites from forts and museums to parks and nature preserves. Participants must have access to www.geocaching.com/play.
Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland, May 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail
The Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail extends over 680 miles through land and water in 10 states, from Massachusetts to Virginia. It connects cities, parks, historic sites and trails that are on the routes that the Allied Armies under General George Washington and French General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, used when marching south from Newport, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 and back in 1782. The Trail includes sites throughout Maryland, from Elkton to College Park.
Search the Manual
© Copyright March 18, 2022 Maryland State Archives