Southern Maryland: Point Lookout to St. Mary's City

The PHT in Maryland begins at a lighthouse on Point Lookout, follows a mile of sandy beach before meandering through the interior of Point Lookout State Park. A short walk from the visitor center, there are views of Cornfield Harbor and Point Lookout Creek, then a jaunt along a Civil War-era railroad bed through quiet marsh. Outside the park, the trail takes to the road for a long, but pleasant road walk to St. Mary's City.


Start: Point Lookout, at Maryland's mouth of the Potomac
End: St. Mary's City Park
Miles: 13. 9
Points of Interest: Point Lookout State Park, Ferry to Smith Island, Rail-trail through marshland, Circle C Oyster Ranch, St. Ignatius Chapel, Historic St. Mary's Park
Parking: Point Lookout (0.1 mi.), Ridge, MD, post office (8.4 mi.), St. Mary's City State Park (13.9 mi.)
Water: Point Lookout State Park, St. Inigoes Landing (end of Beachville Rd.), St. Mary's City Park
Restroom or privy: Point Lookout State Park, St. Mary's City Park
Provisions: Grocery store (Raley's) in Ridge, 3 seafood restaurants on Wynne Road
Camping: Point Lookout State Park, Seaside View Campground


Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 Point Lookout Lighthouse. Walk west on Rt. 5 past smokehouse.
0.1 Leave Route 5 at parking area, turn left to beach. Turn right on path along stone wall. At the end of the stone wall, continue north on beach.
1.1 Leaving the beach 50 yards before the jetty, turn right into woods on path. Emerging from the woods, continue on sandy path toward footbridge.
1.2 Cross footbridge into parking area for boat launches and ferry to Smith Island.
1.3 Turn left on Route 5.
2.7 Visitors Center. Join nature trail behind the building. Canoes are available for rent at the Visitors Center. There is also a Civil War museum and nature exhibits.
2.8 Point Lookout Rail-Trail; turn right. The railroad was constructed in 1866, but never completed. For an intimate view of the bay, turn left for a detour on rail-trail, and walk 175 yards to vista.
3.4 Turn right at second path to campground, leaving the rail-trail. Follow sandy path; stay left at fork in the reeds.
3.5 Rejoin campground loop; turn right. Then left toward Route 5.

Turn left on Route 5.

4.4 At T intersection, bear left at Memorial. Continue on Route 5.
5.7 Camp Brown Rd.
6.2 Fresh Pond Neck Rd. Turn right to visit Scotland Negro, currently under restoration.
7.7 Ridge, MD: Post Office, groceries, gasoline, on right
8.0 Airedale Rd. Turn right and follow to end (approximately .75 miles) to visit Circle C Oyster Ranch.
12.8 Pass MD-235, Ridge, MD. For a taste of real Potomac seafood, turn left on Wynne Road and continue two miles to the end.
9.4 St. Peter Claver Rd. Turn left for Cardinal Gibbons Park (playground, tennis & basketball courts) or Seaside View Campground.
10.9 Villa Road, St. Inigoes, MD. Turn left and continue 1.6 miles to St. Ingatius Church.
13.9 Turn left on Rosecroft Rd. into St. Mary's State Park area. Turn right onto Hogaboom Lane. Enter the Visitors Center to pay admission and acquire trail maps and other information.



Point Lookout State Park
Point Lookout is the southernmost location of the PHT in Maryland. It is a peninsula situated at point where the Potomac River empties into the Chesapeake Bay, and affords a rare view of both simultaneously. After Captain John Smith explored the Point in 1612, it was included in King Charles I's 1632 grant to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Calvert's younger son, Leonard, claimed the Point for his home in 1634 after being named Maryland's first governor. The point played a role in each war fought on American soil. During the American Revolution and War of 1812, it served as an lookout point. During the Civil War, it became a prisoner of war camp for captured Confederate soldiers. Many locals, visitors, and staff claim the historic lighthouse and prisoner camp to be haunted, and the park hosts a Ghost Walk every October. The 1,046 acre state park offers swimming, boating, fishing, and camping at both tent and trailer sites. There also are rustic cabins and a cottage available by reservation. The visitor center houses a Civil War museum and nature exhibits. A $3 entrance fee applies from May through September. Ferry to Smith Island. Take a cruise to Smith Island, known as Maryland's only inhabited island in the Chesapeake Bay. Departing from the marina in Point Lookout State Park, the ferry takes visitors to one of the last outposts of quiet in the eastern U.S. Few residents have cars on the island, and visitors leave theirs on the mainland to stroll the island's three communities (or ride bicycles). There are bed and breakfasts and a couple of hotels, the Smith Island Center museum and cultural center, a few eateries, and views of the Bay at every turn. Cruise available from the end of May through Mid-October, costing roughly $20 per person.

Scotland Negro Schoolhouse
Originally a whites-only elementary school and moved to this former Quaker property for the establishment of a public negro school in 1879. Currently being restored by a private foundation. Call 301-872-5655 for more information.

Ridge, MD
For those seeking to experience the bounty of the Potomac first-hand, there are a number of seafood restaurants to choose from. The concentration of restaurants at the end of Wynne Road is a testament to the quality of local fish and the long-standing persistence of the watermen's culture in this southern portion of St. Mary's County. From Route 5, turn left onto Wynne Road and travel 2 miles to the end, where you will not only meet up again with a lovely view of the Potomac, but also be able to choose between three locally owned waterfront restaurants specializing in deliciously affordable Potomac seafood.

St. Ignatius Church
At the end of Villa Road in the small rural townette of St. Inigoes, this chapel is the oldest continuously occupied Jesuit property in the United States. While the original 1641 church was deconstructed at the abolition of religious freedom, it was built again after the American Revolution, and to this day houses one of the oldest cemeteries in America. The adjacent guard gate for the Patuxent River Naval Air Station on Webster's Field makes for an interesting cultural contrast. On the National Register of Historic Places. Call 301-972-5590 for more information.

Last updated: July 7, 2017

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