Southern Maryland: Historic St. Mary's City to Leonardtown

The first four miles of this section lie entirely within Historic Saint Mary's City, following the park system of footpaths through the re-created town that served as provincial Maryland's first capital. Wooded paths lead to dramatic views of the St. Mary's River and sites undergoing archaeological exploration. The long stretch of road walking that follows St. Mary's means that most people will cover this segment between HIstoric St. Mary's and Leonardtown on bicycle or by car. This strategy allows time for a hike within the historic site and a leisurely lunch and stroll in old Leonardtown.


Start: Historic Saint Mary's City, MD
End: Leonardtown, MD
Miles: 19.2
Points of Interest: Historic St. Mary's City, St. Mary's River Lake, Historic Leonardtown
Parking: Historic Saint Mary's City (13.9 mi.), Leonardtown (23.9)
Water: St. Mary's City State Park, Take it Easy Campground, La Grand Estate Camping Resort
Restroom or privy: St. Mary's City State Park, various businesses along the Route 5 road walk, Leonardtown business establishments
Provisions: Various businesses along the Route 5 road walk
Camping: Take it Easy Campground, La Grande Estate Camping Resort, Relax Inn


Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 From the parking area on Hogaboom Rd., walk south 75 yards to Rosecrost Rd. Turn right.
0.4 Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation. Turn right.
0.5 Turn left on Robert Ridgeley Trail; enter woods.
1.1 Emerge from woods, cross road into woods; Lucas Rd. on right.
1.5 Stay right at post, circle field, then cross parking area.
1.7 End of parking lot, turn right and proceed down dirt path. Side trail at end of lot leads 100 yards to view of St. Mary's River.
2.0 Rejoin Rosecroft Rd.; continue straight ahead.
2.3 Turn left on unpaved Hogaboom Rd.
2.6 Visitors Center parking area. From the water fountain, with buildings on right, descend steps toward paths. Turn left onto Town Center Path. For an alternate route along dirt path, from the parking area, turn left onto Key Swamp Trail - which rejoins Town Center Path at Print House Path. Visitors Center, parking, water.
2.7 Junction with Print House Path. Turn left on dirt path.
3.0 Turn left onto Aldermanbury St.
4.0 Maryland Dove exhibit, snacks, restrooms, exhibits, and unique gift shop. Continue straight on path to State House.
4.2 Reach Reconstructed State House. Follow path around building, turn left on Old State House Rd., then immediately right onto Trinity Church Rd.
4.3 Turn left onto MD Route 5. Visit the campus center of St. Mary's College by turning right onto Route 5 and follow the crosswalk onto the brick path. Both the library to the left and campus bookstore to the right contain resources on state and county history information about upcoming readings, lectures, and performances.
10.5 Reach junction with Route 471 (Indian Bridge Rd.). Stay left on Route 5 (For an alternate route, turn right on Route 471 and follow 4.5 miles to Route 4. Turn left and walk 3.6 miles to rejoin Route 5 just south of Leonardtown). Cecil's Old Mill Museum and Shop are 0.3 miles past this intersection on Indian Bridge Raod (471).
11.5 Route 249, Take It Easy Campground on left.
12.7 Camp Cosomo Rd.; for side trip to St. Mary's Lake turn right and follow road 1.2 miles.
15.5 Redgate Wilderness, La Grande Estate Camping Resort.
18.3 Route 4 enters from right.
18.7 Turn left on Business Route 5
19.2 Leonardtown, MD business district. Turn right onto Washington St. Sandwich shop and restaurants in town; motel. Follow Washington St. down the hill for a view of Breton Bay.



Cecil's Old Mill
Originally a textile factory and rebuilt into a grist and saw mill. Today, local artisans display and sell handmade crafts and original art. Open March-October, Thursday through Sunday and daily from November until Christmas. Call for hours. Indian Bridge Road, Great Mills MD, 301-994-1510.

Historic Saint Mary's City
Settled in 1634 by the 134 English settlers who accompanied Leonard Calvert across the Atlantic, St. Mary's was the fourth permanent settlement in the Americas. St. Mary's was the Maryland Province's capital until the seat was moved to Annapolis in 1695. The park, situated on the shore of the scenic St. Mary's River, recreates and interprets early life in the colony. While none of the original buildings survive, the archaeological record that is preserved is considered one of the finest in the U.S. The reconstructed buildings, plantation, businesses and state capitol are all accessed via a series of footpaths that meander the river and woods. The route of the PHT chosen for this guide winds right through the city. Additionally, a 3-mile forested loop beginning at the Visitor's Center and walking south down Hogaboom Lane will take you past Godiah Spray Plantation, Milburn Creek, and Chancellor's Point, crossing small trail bridges named after some of St. Mary's most notable 17th century personalities. Towards the end of this loop, you'll pass the Brome-Howard House (c. 1840), a large structure that was actually relocated from the museum grounds of the city. The break in the hedgerow, still visible today, marks the path where the house was transported through the fields. A former plantation, the house is currently a bed & breakfast featuring fine dining and distinctive guestrooms, where both visitors and passerby can enjoy spectacular views of the St. Mary's River below.

St. Mary's Lake
The 250 acre lake is part of St. Mary's River State Park, an 8 mile wooded trail encircles the lake where evidence indicates Native Americans have lived since 3000 B.C. Attentive hikers may indeed encounter arrowheads along stream beds. The lake also offers bass fishing.

The county seat of St. Mary's, Leonardtown offers a dose of small-town charm and an easy-going pace. The oldest incorporated town in Maryland, Leonardtown is host to a few casual eateries, several shops, an art gallery, a health food store, and accommodations, though tired legs may just find the shaded benches in the center of town to be the main attraction. The area surrounding the town is fast-growing, but downtown Leonardtown, still has the illusion of an isolated, southern MD, county seat — only the availability of cappuccino gives it away.

Last updated: July 7, 2017

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Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive SW

Washington, DC 20242



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