Guides News Your World

Follow the Winding Paths Through Hagerstown and Washington County, Md.

How do you like to get around town? Whatever your preference, by foot, bike, boat, or car, Hagerstown and Washington County, Md., await with new sights to see and tastes to try around every turn. Use this guide to help you get the most out of your next getaway to the mountains of western Maryland.

Couple Cycling in Fall in Hagerstown
Couple Cycling in Fall, photo by Betsy DeVore

For the Hiker and Biker

Slip on your walking shoes or clip on your helmet for an excursion through the woods, over creeks, and past historical sites on some of Maryland’s most scenic trails.

The C&O Canal Towpath, running 184.5 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland, Md., follows Washington County’s southern border. The even, hard-packed dirt trail offers a variety of experiences, from secluded sections teeming with wildlife where you can immerse yourself in nature to the Canal Towns of Hancock and Williamsport where you’ll find somewhere to get a bite to eat, charming local shops, and more. A number of hiker/biker campsites along the route make it easy to spend multiple days taking in all this historical path has to offer.

Hancock Rail Trail, photo by John Canan, Mountains & Rivers Media

For a slightly smoother ride, the Western Maryland Rail Trail is a parallel 28-mile paved path that offers a leisurely outing for the whole family. Connect small towns, views of the water, and a look into the past all on one trail.

Fishing at Dam 5 Hagerstown
photo by Betsy DeVore

For the Paddler and Angler

Whether you’re looking to cool off in the summer or take in the changing seasons during fall and spring, the mountains provide the perfect backdrop for a float on the waterways of Washington County.

There’s no better way to see the area by boat than on the Potomac River, known as “The Nation’s River.” The Upper Potomac is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike for a wide range of activities. Paddle the shores as you take in the largely undeveloped shoreline or cast a line for smallmouth bass, carp, sunfish, and more. 

The Antietam Creek Water Trail, a 41.7-mile tributary of the Potomac, offers a beautiful setting as you paddle a class I-II run through Antietam National Battlefield and under Burnside Bridge. Keep your eyes peeled for a wide array of wildlife, including birds, fish, and turtles, during your float under a canopy of trees. Customize your trip length with a number of public boat ramps and keep coming back to explore more parts of the creek. 

Antietam Brewery
Antietam Brewery, photo by John Canan, Mountains & Rivers Media

For the Craft Drinkers

Relax and unwind with a drink in your hand and stunning views at the foothills of the Appalachians. The topography and temperate climate found in the mountain region of Maryland makes for sustainable growing practices and award-winning refreshments. Take the self-guided Pour Tour through Washington County to experience all of the stops for yourself. With seven wineries, six breweries, and two distilleries, you’re sure to find a drink that fits your tastes.

For the One Who Wants to See It All

Cruise one of the Scenic Byways that snakes its way through the county for charming towns filled with museums, antiques, pick-your-own orchards, delicious dining options, five national parks, and countless hidden gems. You can’t go wrong between the Antietam Campaign, C&O Canal, and Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byways as all three offer unique stops along the way. It’s the fastest way to pack in all of the sights when you’re tight on time or are looking to sightsee in comfort.

History buffs will want to get out of the car and explore important sites, from Civil War battlefields and memorials to the locks of the C&O Canal. Book a guided tour to dive deeper into the stories of the area and the strategic role these towns played throughout history.

It doesn’t matter how you prefer to get out and see the sights. Hagerstown and Washington County, Md., offer a way for everyone to enjoy the local culture in a quiet slice of the mountains.