If you are interested in National Parks then Maryland is the state for you. There are 28 National Parks or National Historic Sites located within our state. From wild and pure nature to historical sites, we have just about everything you could ask for as far as parks go. While every park has something worth highlighting, we are focusing on the Top 10 National Parks in Maryland. If you are just planning a day trip, or a road trip to try to hit them all, these are 10 that you won’t want to miss.
1. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park
This is a brand new National Historic Park in the state of Maryland. It has only been open for a few months. This 17 acre state park is rich with the history and story of Harriet Tubman, who made a name for herself by being a major part of the Underground Railroad. History tells that she helped over 70 slaves escape prior to the Civil War.
2. Catoctin Mountain
Nature lovers and adventure seekers will enjoy time at Catoctin Mountain. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails, along with fishing, horse trails, and rock climbing. There are beautiful views all around the national park. You can even take an Orienteering class with a Park Ranger to learn how to navigate with a map and compass around the park. There are camping sites and lodging in the park for those that are interested in staying longer.
3. Fort Foote
Fort Foote was constructed in the early 1860s in an effort to help protect Washington D. C. during the Civil War. The fort was built to watch over the waterways that could cause a threat to the city. Two of the main guns of the fort are still at the park for visitors to see. If you enjoy American history, this is one historic site that you will need to see.
4. Fort Washington
Fort Washington has a rich history. The fort was originally constructed in the early 1800s. It was the only fort that was built to protect Washing D.C. until temporary forts went up during the Civil War. The Fort continued to be used for different purposes by the military during both World War I and World War II as well. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy soaking up American history. The fort overlooks the Potomac River, which has great fishing as well.
5. Glen Echo
Glen Echo is a different kind of National Park. Instead of trees, mountains, and rivers, Glen Echo has a different purpose. It was originally established as a National Chautauqua. Later it was transformed into an amusement park and is home to the Dentzel Carousel which has operated for over 90 years. The site was later turned into a National Park, but still, hosts some of its historic events. There are cultural and recreational activities, including dances, held at the park all year.
6. Greenbelt Park
Greenbelt Park is known as the Urban Oasis. The park is located only 12 miles from Washington D.C. and allows people an escape to nature. There are over 170 campsites that are open year-round. There are 9 miles of hiking trails available at the park as well as several picnic areas and two playgrounds. Kids can complete a Junior Rangers “training” before heading into the park.
Pisccataway Park is full of wildlife for you to enjoy. You can enjoy untouched nature while seeing bald eagles, deer, beavers, and other small game. The park has great bird watching and fishing. It is also home to National Colonial Farms, a historic farm museum. Fort Washington Marina is located within the park, providing access to Piscataway Creek and the Potomac River. The marina has boat slip rentals that will allow you to discover the area by waterway. You can also enjoy access to the Potomac National Scenic Trail, which is an almost 300 mile trail that allows you to walk the same paths as George Washington.
8. Harpers Ferry
There is something for everyone at Harpers Ferry. The National Historic Park sits between the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers and allows you to step back into the past. There are live historic events that take place throughout the year, allowing you a firsthand look into American history, as well as live workshops to teach trades from the 19th century. There are museums and exhibits to check out, along with hiking trails and National battlefields. This park deserves more than just one day for your visit.
Hampton provides you a look back into the lifestyle of the past. You can tour the mansion and grounds during your visit to this National Historic Site. At Hampton you will find that “A wealth of artifacts and scenery recreates the world where, for the better part of three centuries, a community of hundreds of individuals played out the comedies and dramas of their own lives against the backdrop of America’s development as a nation.” This historic site is as much about the story of the people, as a story of the land.
10. The Appalachian Trail
The state of Maryland holds part of the Appalachian Trail. This trail is over 2,100 miles long and runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way up to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail was completed 80 years ago and while there are some hikers that have hiked the entire trail at at once, many hikers tackle portions of the trail in at a time. While the entire trail is open year-round, there are portions that could be closed due to trail condition or weather issues.
From historic sites to river and land, the National Parks in Maryland are full of American history and beautiful nature. You can view a complete listing of the offerings of the National Park Service in Maryland here.