Walking in Hagerstown - Downtown to fairgrounds

September 11, 2010|By CHRIS COPLEY
  • Come take a walk through Hagerstown
Graphic by Chad Trovinger,

Beginning today, The Herald-Mail's Lifestyle section will publish four walks in central Hagerstown, one route per Sunday for the next four weeks. Each walk will follow a circuitous route that begins and ends at the same place with convenient parking for people who, uh, drive so they can walk.

Each walk is 2 to 3 miles - easy to walk in a couple hours - with public restrooms, shops, parks, restaurants or convenience stores and other points of interest.

So gather friends or family, dress for the weather and get walking. Enjoy the company, look for new things in your city and stretch your legs.

Walk No. 1 - From downtown to Fairgrounds (about 2.5 miles)

This description begins the walk downtown at Public Square. Park in the big central parking lot, and be sure to feed the meter for a couple hours.

1. Public Square. Walk to the intersection of Potomac Street and Washington Street. This is the historic center of Hagerstown, now featuring shade trees, shops, restaurants and plantings.


2. At the Hagerstown-Washington County Visitors Welcome Center (6 N. Potomac St.) you'll find maps, souvenirs, T-shirts, caps and plenty of information about things to do in Hagerstown and Washington County.

3. Hagerstown City Hall is at the corner of Franklin and North Potomac streets. Look in the sidewalk for Little Heiskell, the weathervane figure who became the city's mascot.

4. There's a cluster of shops, restaurants and a gallery at the intersection of North Potomac and Franklin streets.

5. Continue walking north on Potomac. At the top of the hill is the 236-year-old Zion Reformed United Church of Christ (200 N. Potomac St.). Hagerstown's namesake, Jonathan Hager, was hit by a falling timber while helping build the sanctuary; he is buried in the cemetery behind the church.

6. Two blocks farther north, at the corner North Potomac and East North streets, is the Spanish-American War monument in Bloom Park. The monument consists of a 259-year-old French cannon, cannonballs and a plaque. According to the Washington County Historical Society, this was one of the first monuments to Spanish-American War veterans in the United States.

7. Check out the large homes on the west side of North Potomac Street. Many of them are now divided into apartments, but they started life as mansions in a variety of architectural styles. The row of mansions continues north for many blocks.

8. In the northern part of the 400 block of North Potomac lies a stretch of original brick sidewalk showing its age.

9. Just past Wayside Avenue, North Potomac Street splits. For today's walk, veer to the right onto Potomac Avenue. The V-shaped building where Potomac and Oak Hill avenues house Schindel's Pharmacy (642 Oak Hill Ave., but with an entrance on Potomac Avenue), which has an old-time soda fountain inside.

10. A block farther up, at the intersection of Fairgrounds and Potomac avenues, is another shopping cluster.

11. Turn right on Fairgrounds Avenue and walk two blocks to North Mulberry Street. Straight ahead, you'll see a short rise and a back entrance to Fairgrounds Park. A century ago, the fairground was home to the Great Hagerstown Fair. Now, Fairgrounds Park caters to sports leagues, and has playgrounds, public restrooms, a walking/running trail and a BMX track.

12. As you enter the park, you step onto a wide, asphalt pathway next to an asphalt road. The path has posts marking 1/8-mile distances for walkers and runners. Soon, you'll come to the 3/8-mile mark. Cross the asphalt road and walk across a small, paved parking lot. On the far right corner, you'll find the entrance to the Valley Road Tributary nature trail. This shady trail runs along a dry stream bed that carries rainwater to Hamilton Run. Plaques along the trail point out native plants and animals and other natural phenomena.

13. In about a quarter mile, the trail leaves the woods and deadends into a trail that runs between Fairgrounds Park and Pangborn Park. Turn left and go to Pangborn Park. It's a lovely, neighborhood park with a fountain, garden, lake, tennis courts, a wisteria arbor and a playground.

Retrace your steps and walk back to Fairgrounds Park. Just before the park, the path passes the rear of Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex. Go up a small rise and you're looking at Fairground Park again.

You're about halfway done with the walk.

14. Continue past the restrooms to the asphalt path that runs along the front of the Fairgrounds grandstand. Follow the path around the outdoor ice rink and bear right. There's a ridge uphill from the ice rink. Make your way there and look east for a breath-taking view of South Mountain visible above the eastern neighborhoods of Hagerstown.

15. On the other side of the ridge is one of the more unusual monuments in Hagerstown. It's an aging, gray granite monument to John L. Cost, who ran the poultry competition at the Great Hagerstown Fair. Under his management, the fair had the world's largest poultry exhibit.

Put the grandstand behind you and walk south to Cannon Avenue. Turn right and walk to the stoplight at North Mulberry. Continue walking across the street - now you're walking along East North Avenue - to the next stoplight, at North Locust Street. Turn left and walk south.

16. The Alms House on the west side 300 block of North Locust was built in 1799 as part of a complex of buildings to house Hagerstown's poor. A plaque describes the city's early program.

Continue south on North Locust. Cross East Franklin Street and walk one more block to East Washington Street.

17. Across the street to the left is Hagerstown Day Nursery, a children's educational institution since 1818.

18. Turn the opposite direction and walk west toward Public Square. Along the way, check out another cluster of shops

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