Where the Potomac and the Chesapeake Meet: the Beginning of the PHT

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail begins at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay at Point Lookout State Park. This itinerary begins at the Point Lookout Lighthouse, runs through the tidal lowlands of Saint Mary’s Peninsula past Maryland’s early colonial capital and a Potomac River lighthouse, and on to St. George Island.

Point Lookout to Historic St. Mary’s City: 10 miles.

Historic St. Mary’s City to Piney Point Lighthouse: 16 miles.

Piney Point Lighthouse to tip of St. George Island: 5 miles.

St. George Island to Point Lookout: 31 miles.

Round trip: 62 miles

The looping road that runs through Point Lookout State Park is bordered by Potomac tidal estuaries on one side and the expansive Chesapeake Bay on the other. The park offers camping, paddling and birding opportunities but also has a poignant Civil War history as it served as a federal prison camp for Confederate soldiers. Take time to follow the woodland path to Fort Lincoln, a Civil War era encampment. Civil War monuments stand just outside the park. The remains of thousands of soldiers who died at Point Lookout are interred there.

The narrow park road opens up to Route 5, a flat wide-shouldered expanse that accommodates hikers and cyclists. Travel west up Route 5 to Historic St. Mary’s City. This sprawling outdoor museum and archaeological park has first person interpretive exhibit areas including the Godiah Spray Plantation and the Maryland Dove. The Dove is moored along the St. Mary’s River which looks much as it did nearly four centuries ago when colonists landed here in 1634.

Journey another seven miles north and turn left onto Route 249. The broad road sweeps westward toward Piney Point and St. George Island. Take a right onto Lighthouse Road in Piney Point which ends at the Piney Point Lighthouse, Museum and Park. The lighthouse is the oldest light on the Potomac. The site has a sandy beach, a pier, and a museum with a collection of historic vessels that once plied the Chesapeake Bay. Route 249 narrows as it crosses the bridge onto St. George Island and then it meanders along through beach grass. Island finds include the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab (visits must be arranged in advance).


Region: Southern Maryland
Activity: Bicycling, History

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
c/o Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
142 W. Potomac St.

Williamsport, MD 21795


This phone will reach the main line for the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

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