This 560-mile land and water route connects historic sites in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. to tell the story of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay region. The whole trail is nearly 600 miles, so consider planning your trip based on your preferred mode of transportation or by geographic area. Depending on how much time you have, focus on Baltimore, Annapolis, Southern Maryland or the D.C. suburbs, or plan activities in adjacent regions.
Here are additional ideas to help you choose an itinerary:
No trip would be complete without a stop at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine to walk the ramparts that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the National Anthem. Arrive at dusk to help fold the flag, then head into the surrounding neighborhoods to enjoy shopping and dining.
Paddle, pedal or picnic at more than 160 locations throughout the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network.
Embark on an adventure to earn yourself a geocoin along the Star-Spangled Banner Geotrail.
Get your National Park Service Passport stamped at more than 10 locations along the trail.
Download a Patuxent Water Trail map and follow the route of Commodore Joshua Barney through King’s Landing Park and Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park. Or visit Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum and nearby Calvert Marine Museum in Southern Maryland for history along with great water views.
Walk the same roads that British troops walked, and see the landscapes they saw between Benedict, on the shores of the Patuxent River, and Bladensburg, near Washington, D.C.
Follow the Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway or Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway and visit War of 1812 sites while enjoying great views of the Eastern Shore or upper Chesapeake Bay along the way. A complete list of Maryland's Scenic Byways, including the Star Spangled Banner and Historic National Road trails, may be found here.
Bike part or all of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail On-Road Bicycling Route, which starts at Fort Washington and winds along the eastern bank of the Potomac River, offering routes ranging from 28 to 52 miles.