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Hiking trails offer easy walks, strenuous workouts

September 24, 2006

Whether it's a short, easy walk or a strenuous workout hikers seek, there are plenty of trails in Washington County.

Antietam National Battlefield

Battlefield Superintendent John Howard suggests hikers bring their cameras when walking the three-mile loop of Snavelys Ford Trail. The trail, which begins at Burnside Bridge, is a beautiful walk with a difficulty level of easy to moderate, he said.

Snavelys Ford Trail was being rerouted in early August.

Near Antietam Creek, the trail features wildflowers in the spring and owls year-round.

The battlefield also has an easy, self-guided interpretive trail at the Cornfield that is a little more than a mile long.

There is another short Dunker Church trail, which begins at the visitors center.

Sherrick Farm Trail goes from the junction of Rodman Avenue and Md. 34 along the edge of a field and ends up at Burnside Bridge, making it about a mile-long walk.

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Only hikers are allowed on the Cornfield Trail. No wheeled vehicles, including bicycles, are allowed on Snavelys. Horses are allowed on Snavelys Ford Trail, but groups with more than five horses must get a free permit.

Dogs are permitted on the battlefield's trails as long as they are on leashes.

For more information, call 301-432-5124 or visit www.nps.gov/anti.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail snakes from Maine to Georgia, with approximately 40 miles in Washington County.

Local highlights along the trail include Washington Monument State Park, Gathland State Park, Weverton Cliffs and Annapolis Rock.

The trail is strictly for foot travelers. Pets are allowed if controlled by leashes no longer than 6 feet.

For more information, visit www.appalachiantrail.org or www.nps.gov/appa or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 304-535-6331 or the National Park Service headquarters at 304-535-6278.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Washington County's 78.8-mile portion of the 184.5-mile canal from Cumberland, Md., to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., is one of the canal's most interesting and attractive segments.

Williamsport, which has the second largest aqueduct along the canal, is the midpoint between Georgetown and Cumberland at mile 99, C&O Canal spokeswoman Kathy Sholl said.

The Conococheague Creek aqueduct was damaged by repeated floods, she said.

The canal towpath has views of the Potomac River, Sharpsburg, Williamsport, Four Locks and Hancock. Williamsport Visitor Center, Cushwa Basin and Conococheague Creek Aqueduct are the most extensive groupings of original canal structures along the canal.

Bicyclists and horseback riders are allowed on the canal towpath.

For more information, call 301-739-4200 or visit www.nps.gov/choh.

Fort Frederick State Park

The park southwest of Clear Spring features two easy trails, the three-quarter mile Plantation Trail and a 0.3-mile novice Wetlands Trail. The trails are for hikers only.

The Wetlands Trail, which borders the back of the campground, provides a nice walk with flora and fauna. Hikers sometimes can see beavers building their dams.

Bicyclists are allowed on a road that runs parallel to the Wetlands Trail.

The park's trails are for hikers only; pets are not allowed.

For more information, call 301-842-2155 or visit www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands.

Greenbrier State Park

The park east of Hagerstown off U.S. 40 has nine trails, not including the Appalachian Trail.

The 0.6-mile Bartman Hill Trail provides a cleared path between the park's visitors center and the Appalachian Trail. The trail is steep, so the climb might be strenuous.

The Big Red Trail is a strenuous 4.5-mile loop, but it has long sections that are relatively flat. The average person probably can hike the loop in 2.5 hours.

Mountain bikes are allowed on most trails, but not on the Bartman Hill Trail. Horses are allowed, but not motorized vehicles. Dogs are not allowed in the developed parts of the park and cannot come in the front entrance. Dogs that are kept on 6-foot leashes may enter the park from some parking areas on the park's boundary or back area.

Maps of the trails and trail rules are available at the booth at the park entrance.

Some trails are in public hunting areas, so people hiking in the fall should wear bright colors and be aware of hunters. The hunters access the area from the trails, but hunt in the woods.

The park also offers boating, camping, fishing and swimming.

The park charges a nominal service fee, the amount of which depends on the time of year.

For more information, call 301-791-4767 or visit www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands.

Hagerstown City Park and Fairgrounds Park

City Park and Fairgrounds Park are two of 12 Hagerstown Parks & Recreation Department parks with walkways.

Fairgrounds Park has a one-mile paved trail for use by walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, skateboarders and bicyclists.

City Park has four measured trails for walkers and joggers. They range from Buys Walk, which is about one-quarter of a mile, to Hager Walk, which is three-quarters of a mile.

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