When you think of Fort Frederick State Park the first thing that comes to mind is undoubtedly history. Fort Frederick, built in 1756, is the only remaining stone fort from the French and Indian War. Its stone wall and two barracks have been restored to their 1758 appearance where visitors can learn more about the fort’s rich history which spans the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and even the American Civil War. The state park is a must-see destination for history lovers, but the 585-acre park is also a great destination for outdoor recreation.
There are several places for fishing, paddling and boating at Fort Frederick State Park. The Beaver Pond, just before the entrance to the campground, is perfect for young anglers. Families can fish safely from the banks and catch a variety of fish species, while also observing the beaver habitat. Nearby is Big Pool, a natural depression filled with water when the C&O Canal was created. It provides fishing opportunities as well as a great location to kayak, canoe and boat (gas motors are prohibited). A boat ramp provides easy access and the scenery provides for relaxing enjoyment of the outdoors. Big Pool is primarily a warm water fishery with species such as largemouth bass, catfish, carp and bluegill. The Potomac River runs along the southern edge of the park, providing even more opportunities for boating and fishing. Just across from the Beaver Pond parking area is a footpath for access to the Potomac. It is even suitable for carrying a lightweight canoe or kayak.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities at Fort Frederick State Park. The Beaver Pond Trail is an easy, flat trail for walkers and hikers of all ages and abilities. At just 0.3 miles in length, it passes along wetlands at the edge of the campground. On the Beaver Pond Trail you’re likely to see several species of turtles, waterfowl, birds, white-tailed deer and other wildlife. The Plantation Trail, which starts in the picnic area, is 1.1 miles in length and is considered an easy to moderate trail for hikers. It passes through forested areas of the old experimental tree plantation from the 1930s. Hikers are likely to see white-tailed deer, turkeys and variety of flora and fauna.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park runs through Fort Frederick State Park, providing opportunities for walking, hiking and bicycling on the towpath. There is parking and access to the towpath at milepost 112.5. When traveling the towpath on foot, it’s always a good idea to have proper shoes and water, as well as bug spray. You’ll likely see a wide variety of wildlife as well as flora and fauna. Additional walking, hiking and bicycling opportunities are available on the nearby Western Maryland Rail Trail, managed by Fort Frederick State Park. The rail trail is a 23-mile-long, paved path following the right-of-way of the Western Maryland Railway. It runs parallel to the C&O Canal towpath, beginning in Big Pool, not far from the entrance to Fort Frederick State Park, and ending in Pearre.
For those who enjoy family camping, Fort Frederick State Park has a campground with 29 unimproved sites along the Potomac River. There are portable toilets and a camp store. Staying in the park gives visitors a chance to experience all there is to see and do. The campground operates on a first come, first served basis only and has four youth group campsites for organized groups. There’s also a picnic area in the park with picnic tables, grills, a playground and a pavilion with the capacity for 50 people that can be rented.
Fort Frederick State Park is an important historical destination in Washington County. You’ll find informative exhibits spanning the fort’s rich history in the fort, barracks, the CCC Museum and at the Visitor Center. But Fort Frederick State Park is also a great place to appreciate and enjoy nature with countless opportunities for outdoor recreation.