Maps are placed on easels for planning meeting.

On May 8, 2008, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail (Trail) was designated through an amendment to the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 1241). The new Trail will consist of “water and overland routes totaling approximately 290 miles, extending from Tangier Island, Virginia, through southern Maryland, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River, Potomac River, and north to the Patapsco River, and Baltimore, Maryland, commemorating the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812 (including the British invasion of Washington, District of Columbia, and its associated feints, and the Battle of Baltimore in summer 1814).”

Learn more about the Trail's designating legislation (P.L. 110-229)

The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for planning, developing and maintaining the Trail in partnership with other Federal, state and local governments, landowners, volunteer groups, and residents. According to the National Trails System Act, the NPS is responsible for encouraging communities, land owners, and volunteers to participate in planning, development and maintenance of the Trail; consulting with landowners and federal, state and local agencies in administration of the Trail; and--subject to funding--providing interpretive programs and service and technical assistance to carry out preservation and development of the Trail and to provide education relating to the War of 1812.

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is headquartered at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, MD.


Comprehensive Management Plan

In June 2012, the NPS, in coordination with Maryland Office of Tourism Development and Maryland State Highway Administration, completed a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Trail and the companion Star-Spangled Banner Byway in Maryland. The plan describes how and where NPS and its partners will prioritize resource protection, provide education and interpretation, and improve the visitor experience in the future. It also includes focus area studies for Bladensburg, North Point, Alexandria, District of Columbia, Baltimore, and the Upper Bay.

Interpretive Plan

The Trail's Interpretive Plan provides a foundation for the NPS and trail partners to develop meaningful trail experiences for a range of trail users. The plan identifies four primary interpretive themes to guide historical interpretation; target audiences for developing visitor experiences; provides visitor experience scenarios and goals; and highlights subthemes that cover varied learning motivations and interests. An Action Plan suggests education, orientation, interpretation and access projects that would enable trail users to explore the War of 1812 time period from multiple perspectives.

Potomac River Segment Plan

The Potomac is the only river in the U.S. with three national trails running nearly the entire length of its tidal corridor: the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. The Potomac Segment Plan outlines ways to enhance the resident and visitor experience to the tidal Potomac through recreational, educational and conservation opportunities.

Lower Susquehanna River Segment Plan

The segment plan for the lower portion of the Susquehanna River was completed in 2018. The Lower Susquehanna is defined as the 74-mile corridor between the mouth of the Susquehanna near Havre de Grace, Maryland and its confluence with the Juniata River just north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.The planning team for the segment plan included representatives from the National Park Service Chesapeake, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, Susquehanna Heritage, Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape, represented by staff from the Lancaster County Conservancy and Lancaster County Planning Commission. The planning team envisioned ways to make the trail more visible and meaningful for visitors to the region. Interpretation, conservation, and public access to the water are central to the plan. Collaborative opportunities are also outlined for the two other national trails present in the region, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail.

Feasibility Study

As required by the National Trails System Act, a 2004 feasibility study demonstrated that the proposed Star-Spangled Banner Trail met the national trail eligibility criteria and confirmed that the Trail could encourage preservation, interpretation and recreation activities that enhance awareness of and protect threatened resources through land and water conservation, interpretation, managed access, and stewardship.


Last updated: February 9, 2022

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