You really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing a beautiful place to go hiking in Washington County, Maryland, home to five national parks, eight state parks, and two resource management areas. Each comes with its own set of scenic trails, offering plenty of options whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing stroll through the woods or up for something more strenuous as long as it leads to a phenomenal view. Here’s a look at some of the best places to go hiking on your next trip to Western Maryland.
Maryland’s Portion of the Appalachian Trail
Did you know the majority of the 40-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that crosses Maryland actually passes through Washington County? This particular portion of the A.T. is relatively easy compared with others, with fewer steep climbs and elevation changes of just 1,650 feet. While you could thru-hike the entire stretch in four or five days, most visitors opt to do day hikes where the trail runs through Greenbrier State Park (Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff), Gathland State Park (Weverton Cliffs), and Washington Monument State Park, home of the first monument ever created in George Washington’s honor. The A.T. also allows access to the Maryland Heights overlook at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which we’ll get into later.
C&O Canal National Historic Park
Constructed in 1828 and declared a National Monument in 1961, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal is a vast 184.5-mile waterway that connects Georgetown in Washington, D.C. with Cumberland in Maryland. The C&O Canal Towpath — the dirt and stone trail that runs alongside it and was once used by mules to tow boats down the canal — serves as a recreational space for hikers and cyclists, with 78 miles of it passing through Washington County. The canal is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and is a popular place for birding. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, turkey vultures, egrets, great blue herons, wood ducks, and more than 120 other species of birds as you make your way along the Potomac.
The Western Maryland Rail Trail
For those who prefer paved paths, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, formerly the site of the Western Maryland Railway, runs alongside a 28-mile section of the C&O Canal Towpath from Big Pool (near Fort Frederick State Park) up to Little Orleans. With beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Potomac River, it’s a beautiful place to visit year-round, especially in the fall when the leaves change color. The entire path is wheelchair and stroller accessible and relatively flat, making it a great place to go for a relaxing walk, energizing run, or scenic bike ride.
Fort Frederick State Park
While most people visit Fort Frederick State Park to learn about the unique stone fort, which was constructed in 1756 and used to defend Maryland during the French and Indian War, it’s also home to two scenic trails perfect for hikers of all ages and abilities. Stroll along Beaver Pond Trail, where you can view white-tailed deer, turtles, birds, and other wetland wildlife along the 0.3-mile path, or take the 1.1-mile Plantation Nature Trail through the forest, where trees were harvested in the 1930s — the C&O Canal Towpath also winds its way through here along the Potomac River. Nearby, the Woodmont Natural Resource Management Area’s Wildlife Heritage Trail offers pathways through rolling mountain landscapes, oak forests, and places to pick wild berries.
Antietam National Battlefield
Halfway between Hagerstown, Maryland, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Antietam National Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, where 23,000 soldiers were killed that fateful day on September 17, 1862. Today, it’s home to 10 historic hiking trails where visitors can walk along 0.3- to 1.8-mile pathways and read markers indicating the historic events that happened here. Visit in springtime when birds returning from their winter trips south can be seen in the trees around the Sherrick Farm and Snavely Ford trails. The battlefield is also home to 77 species of birds including northern cardinals, red-tailed hawks, and eastern bluebirds, among others.
The Maryland Heights Trail at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park spans three states (Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia) and its Maryland Heights Trail is a major highlight, offering incredible views of the C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry, and the place where the Potomac River and Shenandoah River meet. It also connects with the Appalachian Trail at the Maryland Heights overlook and lets you check out artillery batteries dating back to the Civil War era — the Stone Fort Loop Trail, which adds about two more miles to your hike, is also worth a look. Park at the Visitor Center and take the free shuttle or hike down the 1.6-mile path to begin the 4.5-mile semi-strenuous trail in Lower Town.
South Mountain Recreation Area
South Mountain State Park, Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park, and Washington Monument State Park make up the South Mountain Recreation Area, home to hiking trails and excellent bird-watching areas. While parts of the Appalachian Trail pass through Greenbrier State Park, there are 11 miles of trails ranging from moderate to difficult due to the steep, rocky landscape — whichever you choose, leave time to cool off in the scenic 42-acre lake. The A.T. also crosses South Mountain State Battlefield, where you can learn how the Battle of South Mountain helped turn the tide of the Civil War in 1862, and Washington Monument State Park, home to a stone tower that was built in 1827 to honor our first president.
Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area
In Western Washington County, the 3,100-acre Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area offers hikers a chance to discover the area’s geology. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to learn how the region’s ancient Devonian-age black shale, which dates back to more than 350 million years ago, and ancient Hampshire and Chemung sandstone support the unique wildlife and endangered plants that live here. Watch for songbirds, black bears, grouse, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Most trails here once served as logging roads or were built to support the C&O Canal, and are now used by hikers and hunters during hunting season.
King Tut Immersive Experience to Premiere This Spring in Boston and Washington D.C.
Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, a new exhibition developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society, commemorates the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Beyond King Tut will mark its world premiere with the start of its North American tour in spring 2022. The world premiere showings include a special installation at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. (June 2022-February 2023) and SoWa Power Station in Boston (July 8-September 18). Beyond King Tut will take visitors on a time-traveling journey flooded with sight, sound and intrigue through the world of King Tut—the boy who reigned as pharaoh of Egypt more than 3,000 years ago—and the discovery of his tomb and treasures in 1922. The discovery of the intact tomb of King Tut captured the imagination of the world, and the mysteries surrounding the tomb still resonate today. Drawing from the storied archives of the National Geographic Society, the exhibition combines the power of cinematic storytelling and soaring imagery made possible with state-of-the-art projection mapping to invite visitors into the golden king’s world like never before. The North American debut of the award-winning virtual reality experience “Tutankhamun: Enter the Tomb” will be presented alongside Beyond King Tut in select venues, including SoWa Power Station, as an optional add-on experience. Created by immersive cinematic storytelling company CityLights and voiced by lauded English actor Hugh Bonneville, the groundbreaking experience whisks guests through a photorealistic version of King Tut’s tomb and all its treasures, just as archeologist Howard Carter and his financier Lord Carnarvon found it when they first peered inside in 1922. In addition to the premiere of Beyond King Tut, National Geographic is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in November 2022 with content including a documentary and a National Geographic magazine feature. Prospective Beyond King Tut guests can sign up for tour date announcements and waitlist registration for priority access to tickets here.
Travel Tips on Getting to (and Around) Martha's Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts that has become the preferred summer destination to hundreds of families for decades. For those of you visiting us for the first time, you might be a little confused as to how to get to the island and eventually, how to get around island during your visit. We’re here to tackle all your questions, concerns, and overall comments - so here are our top travel tips to getting to (and around) Martha’s Vineyard: 1.There are only TWO ways to get to Martha’s Vineyard: you can fly into the MVY Airport or take one of the many ferries from the mainland. Check out Vineyard Ferries for details on all the ferries you can take to Martha’s Vineyard. If you’re flying, carrier options include Cape Air, JetBlue, Delta, and American Airlines - more details on getting to MV by plane. 2. If you want to bring your car on island, you must take the Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole on Cape Cod. The good news is that the Steamship Authority ferry operates many times a day, every day of the year. The bad news is that, while you can walk onto any of their ferries without a reservations, all car reservations must be made in advance, and space on ferries in July and August can fill up quickly. 3. If you still want to fly in and need a car, there are many car rental businesses on island ready to rent you a car, SUV, Jeep, or van. Car renting is common for visitors spending a few weeks on island at a time! 4. Rent a bicycle! There are so many locally owned bicycle shops on island and you can’t go wrong with any of them! Renting a bike will cost you between $25-45 a day - check out bike rental rates and ride safely! The island has more than 35 miles of paved, off-road bike paths, so it’s the perfect way to explore.5. Don’t want to rent a bicycle? Buy a Vineyard Transit Authority Bus Pass! The VTA public buses are a clean, safe and reliable way to travel around the Vineyard. The daily bus pass cost is $8, on/off as much as you like. Children under 6 ride for free, and seniors 65+ get a reduced rate of $5. Bus passes can be bought at the Steamship Authority terminal, and, if you have exact change in cash, right from the bus driver. 6. Don’t want to ride the bus? Walk/run! There are great walking trails and running paths in every town, and it’s a great way to work up an appetite for lobster rolls and ice cream cones! 7. Take a tour of the island! Whether you're here for the day or for the season, don't miss anything Martha's Vineyard has to offer and take a tour. From tour buses and vans, walking tours, food tours, lighthouse tours, and on-the-water tours, there's a tour for all guests.8. Don’t want to do any of the above? You’re in luck, because ride share, such as Uber and Lift are both available, as are local taxi companies. CARD WIDGET HERESponsored by Martha's Vineyard
Celebrate St. Patricks Day at the Guinness Brewery in Baltimore, MD
The Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore, the home of Guinness in the U.S. and the center of its experimental beers, will host a month-long celebration for St. Patrick’s Day. With free entry for all, guests visiting the two-acre lawn and three-story brewery will discover the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day experience in the nation, where more than two and a half centuries of Irish brewing experience and American craft beer creativity meet. Courtesy Guinness Open Gate Brewery Festivities will take place over 16 days in March when the brewery is open: every Thursday through Sunday, including special operating hours for St. Patrick’s Day from 10am-10pm. Highlights include limited edition beer releases and merchandise, live music, an Irish Village lawn takeover with immersive experiences and special menus– including a secret one entirely in Gaelic. In honor of the holiday and Guinness commitment to giving back to the communities it serves, donations will be made to community partners, Sharp Dressed Man and Civic Works Real Food Farm. -Beer Releases- Courtesy Guinness Open Gate Brewery As tradition, the brewing team will release a different special St. Patrick’s Day beer on draught and in cans each Thursday throughout the month of March. Porter (5.5% ABV): brewed with an Irish barley base malt grown in Dundalk, Ireland Release Date: Thursday, March 17Pineapple Coconut Stout (4.7% ABV): brewed with pineapple puree and finished on toasted coconut chipsRelease Date: Thursday, March 24 -Secret Menu-Start practicing your Gaelic, because the brewery has devised a secret St. Patrick’s Day menu for guests with exclusive menu items and deals– but you must place your order in the native language. The only way to obtain the secret menu is to follow and DM the @GuinnessBreweryUS Instagram account with a four leaf clover emoji. -Food- Courtesy Guinness Open Gate Brewery Menus inspired by traditional Irish meals include Corned Beef & Cabbage, Shepherd's Pie, Mussels with Stout, Dublin Coddle and Coffee Cake infused with special Porter, a St. Patrick’s limited beer release. The brewery will bring back its four-course ticketed beer dinner series with a free souvenir in the Barrel Room on Sundays at 6pm for $100 a person. The first course will include Roasted Delicata Squash, Baby Greens, Toasted Farro, Cranberry, Blonde Ale Vinaigrette paired with Guinness Baltimore Blonde and the second is Beef Tartare “Rarebit,” Irish Cheddar, Sourdough, Pickled Shallot, and Crispy Capers paired with Guinness Draught. The main course will change weekly to complement the special St. Patrick’s beer release of the week. Dessert is a Pineapple Upside-down Cake with Citrus Caramel and Cereal Malt Ice Cream paired with Guinness Belgian Style Wit. Tickets will be available for purchase at guinnessbrewerybaltimore.com or by calling (443) 575-6893. -Irish Village-*Operating Hours Saturday, March 12 through Sunday, March 13 and Thursday, March 17 through Saturday, March 19. Courtesy Guinness Open Gate Brewery The outdoor two-acre lawn will feature an interactive Irish Village with beer, food, merchandise and booths highlighting the brewery’s community partners. To level-up the experience, guests can partake in interactive activities for an additional cost including: 3D print your ‘picture’ on a pint, guided food and beer pairing experience (available at the top and bottom of every hour ) and learn the process of pouring a beautiful pint from one of our experts at the Perfect Pint Academy. Guinness-curated food stalls inside the Irish Village include The Hollywood Oyster House, Seamus’ Soup House, Lord Calvert’s Chippy, McHenry’s Snack Co, Wiens & Co. Delicatessen Cured Meats and Fine Cheeses, Over the Moon Ice Cream Parlor, Dudley’s Desserts & Baked Goods and Heaney Grill & Mash. -Entertainment- Courtesy Guinness Open Gate Brewery The double Whammy award-winning The 19th Street Band, whose lead guitarist/vocalist hails from Northern Ireland, will bring its high energy and strong vocal harmonies to the brewery every Saturday in March and on St. Patrick's Day with a live performance from 5pm to 9pm. Traditional Irish dancers from the McGrath Morgan Academy will showcase the rich history of Irish dance in celebration of the holiday to the sounds of live, traditional Irish music each Saturday and Sunday and on St. Patrick's Day from 11am to 3pm. Guests can also enjoy Trivia Night every Friday at 7pm and local cover bands inside the tent on March 3, 10 and 24 from 5pm to 9pm. When: March 17 to March 20 – Weekend 3Thursday, March 17 – Irish Village & Beer ReleaseFriday, March 18 – Irish Village & Trivia NightSaturday, March 19 – Irish Village & Live MusicSunday, March 20 – Ticketed Beer DinnerMarch 24 to March 27 – Weekend 4Thursday, March 2 – Beer ReleaseFriday, March 25 – Trivia NightSaturday, March 26 – Live MusicSunday, March 27 – Ticketed Beer Dinner How: -Entry is free and open to all ages (guests under 21 require a 21+ escort)-Seating is first-come-first-served; no reservations -Guests are encouraged to review social distancing measures in advance of visiting Where:Guinness Open Gate Brewery5001 Washington Blvd, Halethorpe, MD 21227 About GuinnessThe Guinness brand was established in 1759, when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin. Brewed using four main ingredients, water, barley (malted & roasted), hops and yeast, Guinness is the world's most popular stout brand. The iconic beer is brewed in 49 countries worldwide and sold in over 150 with almost 9 million glasses of Guinness beers enjoyed every day around the world. The most GUINNESS is sold in Great Britain, Ireland, USA, Nigeria and Cameroon. More information can be found at www.guinness.com.
2022’s Best Cities for St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and at least $5.87 billion is expected to be spent for the holiday this year, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022's Best Cities for St. Patrick's Day Celebrations.To determine the best cities for celebrating Irish-American heritage, they compared 200 of the largest U.S. cities across 18 key metrics, ranging from Irish pubs and restaurants per capita to the lowest price for a three-star hotel on St. Patrick’s Day to the weather forecast. Top 20 Cities for St. Patrick’s Day1. Philadelphia, PA11. New York, NY2. Boston, MA12. Worcester, MA3. Pittsburgh, PA13. Cleveland, OH4. Chicago, IL14. Henderson, NV5. San Francisco, CA15. Cedar Rapids, IA6. Reno, NV16. Cincinnati, OH7. Naperville, IL17. Milwaukee, WI8. Tampa, FL18. Boise, ID9. Yonkers, NY19. Orlando, FL10. Buffalo, NY20. Columbus, OH To view the full report and your city’s rank, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-for-st-patricks-day-celebrations/19603/Courtesy of Wallet Hub