Beginning approximately one-half mile west of historic Fort Frederick State Park in Big Pool, Maryland, the trail system winds along the Potomac River through rolling farmland, woodlands, and rural towns to its current western terminus at the southern slope of Sideling Hill Ridge.
The first section, from Big Pool to Hancock, opened in 1998 and covers approximately 10 miles. This portion parallels many historical sites and scenic areas including Park Head Level Graveyard, Millstone Station, Moffet Station, Little Pool and Hancock Station. In Hancock, visitors will find shops, restaurants, and other convenient services.
The second section, from Hancock to Pollypond, opened in 2002 and is the most scenic stretch of the trail as it passes through mountainous terrain and offers several breathtaking views of the Potomac River. The numerous rock outcroppings along this trail are ideal for geological exploration. Like the rest of the trail system, this section passes by plenty of historical sites that once played a vital role in the region.
The third section is a 2 ½ mile stretch that opened in 2004. The current western terminus of the trail is located in this section at Pearre, Maryland where there is ample parking and access to Woodmont Natural Resource Management Area. This stretch of the trail passes several interesting historic sites that are of great interest to those who like to explore local history.
The fourth section extends to Little Orleans and adds approximately 4 miles to the trail. Attractions along or in the vicinity of this section include: Sideling Hill Creek, C&O Canal Locks 56 and 57, the Indigo Tunnel, Indigo Neck Campground, 15 Mile Creek Campground and Boat Ramp, and Bill’s Place (restaurant) and Little Orleans Campground & Park.
Indigo Tunnel By-Pass
The Indigo Tunnel is home to eight different bat species. Due to the decline in the bat population the tunnel is closed to the public. Between Mile Markers 24 and 27, the tunnel is by-passed by using ramps to the C&O Canal Towpath. The by-pass is two miles long due to a bend in the Potomac River. The surface of the towpath is for the most part an even hard-packed dirt trail. The towpath can be very muddy following heavy rain. For information regarding the C&O Canal Towpath please visit: https://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm