Introduction To Quest
Come explore the evolution of travel through rugged Western Maryland. In the 1700’s, explores navigated the mighty Potomac river to new lands on the “frontier” of America. In the 1800’s, the C&O canal was used for travel and commerce along the river. In the 1900’s, powerful locomotives of the Western Maryland Railway carried freight and passengers from Baltimore to the Appalachian Mountains. Today, on I-68 vehicles shuttle back and forth across the state at speeds of 65 miles per hour and the former railway bed is a flat, paved ADA accessible recreational trail. Come experience four centuries of travel along the Western Maryland Rail Trail.Quest Information
To begin your quest, pick up your worksheet at Captain's Wort's Trading Post at Fort Frederick State Park or download it here. The quest begins at the Big Pool Station parking lot of the Western Maryland Rail Trail located off I-70 at exit 12. At Captain's Wort's Trading Post, you can stock-up on drinks, snacks and biking gear. You may begin your Quest as early as 8 a.m. if you have downloaded the worksheet, otherwise the trading post opens at 10 a.m. The trading post is located adjacent to the historic fort.
After receiving your Park quest Worksheet, proceed approximately one mile by vehicle to the Big Pool Station parking lot for the Western Maryland Rail Trail. Unload and take a leisurely 5 mile bike ride (or walk) along the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) from Big Pool to the Licking Creek Bridge. (The Licking Creek Bridge is the first bridge you will come to after Mile Marker 2). Informational kiosks will provide clues to answering the questions on your worksheet. After crossing the Licking Creek Bridge, turn around and ride east back to the Big Pool Station parking lot. If you wish to bike farther on the Trail, you may but remember Captain Wort's Trading Post closes at 5 p.m.
When you have completed your Quest, return your completed worksheet to Captain Wort's Trading Post to receive your stamp. This year, all participants who complete a Western Maryland Rail Trail Park Quest will receive 10 percent off all ice cream purchases at the trading post!
If you would like to complete the Quest but do not own a bicycle you may rent one from the C&O bicycle shop in Hancock Maryland. For more information, visit their website at www.candobicycle.com.
Be sure to bring sunscreen, insect repellant, water and a camera or digital recorder to capture the fun memories of your day. When you are done with the Western Maryland Rail Trail park quest, you may wish to complete the historic Fort Frederick State Park Park Quest as well.
Beginning approximately one-half mile west of historic Fort Frederick State Park in Big Pool, Maryland, the Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) winds along the Potomac River through rolling farmland, woodlands, and rural towns to its terminus at the southern slope of Sideling Hill Ridge.
The WMRT follows a path rich in history. The Potomac River valley has been an important transportation corridor for hundreds of years. From Native Americans to the National Road to the C&O Canal, people have always traveled the path of the Potomac River. The Western Maryland Railway was no exception. In its heyday, the Western Maryland Railway was a lifeline to the tri-state area of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Through the construction of the WMRT on this abandoned railroad bed, numerous opportunities are now available to visit old ruins of days past. There are interpretive signs along the length of the trail at many of these locations.
The eastern terminus of the trail, known as Big Pool Station, is located ½ mile west of historic Fort Frederick State Park in Washington County, Maryland. Many visitors begin their WMRT excursions here although some prefer to start at the western terminus located in Pearre, Maryland, near Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area. The WMRT parallels the C&O Canal for its entire length.
Common activities that people enjoy on the trail include hiking, biking, jogging and inline skating. The easy grade and paved surface make this path ideal for families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities (the trail is very wheelchair friendly) to enjoy a trek outside. The trail is suited to anyone seeking a pleasant, leisurely outdoor experience. Biking and walking are the most popular uses of the WMRT. Pets are permitted on the trail.
Fort Frederick State Park11100 Big Pool RoadBig Pool, MD 21711301-842-2155
For bike rental contact:C&O Bicycle Shop9 South Pennsylvania AvenueHancock, MD 21750
Directions to Western Maryland Rail Trail
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401