About 70 miles northwest from DC there is a little known Maryland State Park. The park is centered around a monument of great importance to our national history. This monument is dedicated to one of our founding fathers of the United States of America. I am talking about the Washington Monument State park.
This state park is here to allow visitors the chance to see and visit the monument that was completed that was dedicated to George Washington. The park is conveniently located along the Appalachian trail and the state park utilizes much of the Appalachian Trail system within the park. In fact, the monument is located only a short distance from the Appalachian Trail. To get to this park you will need to take Alternate 40 to the top of South Mountain which looms on the outskirts of Boonsboro, MD. At the top of South Mountain, you will follow the signs to the park entrance. There is an honor system entry fee box at the entrance of the park. Upon paying, you can proceed into the park where the road will wind you further up toward the top of the mountain where you will find a parking lot, some pavilions, bathrooms and a small visitor center. During our winter visit, the visitor center and bathrooms were closed. However, they conveniently had a port-a-potty on the grounds for visitors use. (A very clean port-a-potty also!) The website indicates that you can rent a pavilion and that youth groups can camp on site, both of which require a reservation. The lower parking lot can be used by hikers that are hiking and camping on the nearby Appalachian Trail for a few days. The trail begins northward from the upper parking lot. There is plenty of signage to help you navigate the park. The information board will give you more information about the park and how this monument came into existence and it’s history. There are multiple waysides to talk about the flora and fauna in the area. My personal favorite was the raptor board. This is a board that captures a running tally of how many different birds of each species was seen in the area. It was neat to realize that bald eagles had been seen more than 60 times during the year in which we were visiting. The trail from the parking lot is quite wide and well packed as it meanders up the hillside. Along the trail there are signs that indicate certain milestones in George Washington’s life.
They start with his birth and as you go up the short hill to the monument you will see more signs with more events and happenings in his life until finally you are in sight of the monument and you see the sign chronicling his death.
The monument itself was built in 1827 and has been rebuilt at least twice…the most recent time by the CCC. It towers on the edge of the mountain and the walkway around the monument allows visitors the chance to see the spectacular views.
The monument is open and visitors can climb to the top. The steps are narrow, winding and steep; but the view at the top makes it worth it all! The view is breathtaking as this monument is located on the top of a mountain. Therefore, you can see an incredible distance. The informational plaques at the top will help you recognize not only the towns and landmarks before you but also the various birds you may see soaring high overhead.
Overall, this is a small gem of a historical site. But don’t think that your visit is over!
No, remember that the Appalachian Trail meanders quite close to the Monument! The hiking in this area is fantastic. The tail is well used and in great shape. There is a rather steep grade down at the beginning, but it is all graded with stepping stones and logs to not only help the hiker navigate the trail but to keep the natural erosion in check.
You will come to a ridgeline. If you are hiking in the summer you may not even realize that it is a ridge…but if you step off the trail 100 feet in either direction at various locations, you will find yourself standing before more breathtaking views. It is a great place to hike!
The Washington Monument State Park in Boonsboro, really packs a punch. It is the perfect place for a short visit. There is history about the building of the Washington Monument as well as history about the life of George Washington. There are breathtaking views! There is nature and hiking. This is the perfect little place to visit for the day!
For a fun trip with more history and fun, check out Lancaster County, PA
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