• Paddling on the Potomac River

    Potomac Heritage

    National Scenic Trail DC,MD,PA,VA

Southern Maryland Hike 3

Leonardtown to Chapel Point State Park

This section presents a long road walk — one likely to be traversed on foot in its entirety only by the most serious of thru-hikers. With an absence of public camping along the route, this will make for a long day. Most people will want to cover the distance on bicycle or in a car, with stops along the way to enjoy the country scenery and Zekiah Swamp. As far as road walks go, the saunter down Hurry Road to a crossroads named Hurry pays dividends. It offers views of the surrounding countryside rarely encountered while hiking off-road. The hike is bookended by the quiet village of Leonardtown and the rugged isolation of Chapel Point State Park.

 

Trip Planner

Start: Leonardtown, at Washington Street and Route 5
End: Chapel Point State Park
Miles: 32.4
Points of Interest: Leonardtown, Zekiah Swamp Natural Environment Area, Pope's Creek, Chapel Point State Park.
Parking: Leonardtown (0.0), Chapel Point State Park (40.1)
Water: Leonardtown
Restroom or privy: Leonardtown business establishments
Provisions: Various business along the Route 234 road walk
Camping: None at this time. Motel lodging available where Route 234 meets Route 301

 

Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 Leonardtown business district. Turn right onto Washington St. Excellent deli and several restaurants in town; motel.
0.3 MD Route 5, turn left (no shoulder, walk on grass).
0.6 Pass hospital
2.3 Junction MD-234, turn left
7.7 Junction MD-242, turn left, Hurry Store. Store.
9.3 Hurry Rd. Turn right (no shoulder). To visit St. Clement's Island, stay straight on 242 and continue for 7.75 miles to the end. A bit out of the way, but the flat road meanders through beautiful farmland, and in the autumn you may just catch the sweet smell of tobacco being air-dried in the barns.
12.3 Cross Manor Rd., Hurry, MD.
14.4 Route 238; turn right.
14.5 Route 234; turn left.
18.5 Pass Route 236.
19.3 Enter Charles County.
22.5 Cross Gilbert Swamp Run.
22.9 Allen's Fresh Rd.; turn left (no shoulder); pass through Zekiah Swamp Natural Environment Area.
25.9 Cross US 301 onto Edge Hill Rd.
26.4 Turn right on Pope's Creek Rd. Lovely views of working Southern Maryland farms, but a narrow shoulder.
27.4 Turn right at T to stay on Pope's Creek Rd.
27.6 Cross Pope's Creek. Look back across the water for a good view of Governor Nice Memorial Bridge, linking Maryland and Virginia by spanning the Potomac for nearly 2 miles. Three seafood restaurants.
30.6 Reach US-301. Turn left and walk on shoulder for 1 mile.
31.6 Turn left on Chapel Point Rd. (no shoulder, use caution).
32.4 Chapel Point State Park; camping by permit.
 

Explore the PHT

Pope's Creek
John Wilkes Booth crossed the Potomac here after fleeing Ford's Theatre. Pope's Creek is now home to three waterfront crabhouses which are the most popular in the region: Gilligan's Pier, 301-259-4514; Robertson's Crabhouse, 301-259-0545; Captain Billy's Restaurant, 301-932-4323. The sunsets alone are worth the trip.

St. Clement's Island
After a four-month winter journey across the Atlantic, in 1634 English colonists traveled up the Potomac and landed at this small island located a half mile from Colton's Point. The Potomac River Museum, managed by St. Mary's County, Maryland souvenirs, tours, pier and picnic facilities, and the Little Red Schoolhouse (c. 1820), where young students once walked up to six miles each way on unpaved roads simply to attend class. Ferries to the island, part of Maryland's state park system, are available Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Zekiah Swamp
Recognized as one of the most significant ecological areas in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Zekiah Swamp is the primary headwaters of the Wicomico River—one of the nine state-designated scenic rivers. Zekiah Swamp Run is a 21-mile braided stream. Zekiah Swamp Natural Environment Area is located at the stream's confluence with the Wicomico River, where Maryland DNR owns about 450 acres and has authority to purchase up to 5,000 acres. A dirt road departing Allen's Fresh Road at mile 23.2 leads through the swamp and woods to the Wicomico. The swamp is not managed for recreation, so there is not a developed trail system. But both a stroll down the dirt road and the route through the area are memorable.

Chapel Point State Park
Chapel Point State Park, an undeveloped 600-acre multi-use park, is located on the Port Tobacco River, a tributary of the Potomac. There is a waterfront area that offers excellent fishing and a launch area for canoes and kayaks, as well as a paddle-in campsite (permit required). Hikers and campers can encounter quail, white-tailed deer, wild turkey and waterfowl. There is not a developed trail system, but certainly the opportunity for one. Chapel Point is open to hunting in season, and has a small handicap hunting area. Also within park boundaries is historic St. Ignatius Chapel. The view from the grounds of the chapel alone is worth a walk from Washington, D.C.

Did You Know?

Isaac Ingalls Stevens

Built in 1861, Fort Stevens was originally named Fort Massachusetts. It was renamed Fort Stevens in 1863 after Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was the governor of the Washington Territory.