National Park Week: TRACK Trails

by April 26, 2023

Did you know there are over 35 TRACK Trails within the National Park system?! With it being National Park Week, which is a nine-day celebration (April 22 to April 30) dedicated to the 400+ national parks across the country, we've created a list that highlights all the places your Trail TRACKers can explore - from parkways to battlefields. During this week, you'll find even more programs offered, like live reenactments and guided hikes, to learn more about the ways these parks help preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the locations. To find out about all the national parks in your state, head over to this link. #NationalParkWeek

 

MARYLAND

(Picture: C&O Canal staff guide guests through the aqueduct on an 1890's replica launch boat)
Antietam National Battlefield

The Antietam National Battlefield is located in northwestern Maryland and commemorates the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 during the Civil War. At the end of this twelve hour battle, which ended the Confederate Army's first invasion into the North, 23,000 soldiers were reported dead, wounded, or missing. This battle led to Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that same week. The Antietam National Battlefield - Mumma Roulette Farms TRACK Trail is a 1-mile loop through farm fields and woodlands.

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Catoctin Mountain Park

The Catoctin Mountain Park is on the northeast tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Maryland. Though milled and mined until the 1930's, the mountain was given a second chance by the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps to become the recreational area it is today. Two TRACK Trails are in the park, including the Browns Farm Loop TRACK Trail, which is an easy 0.4-mile loop with additional hiking through the Camp Round Meadow area. At the Blue Blazes and Falls Loop TRACK Trail, visitors can choose a 0.6-mile loop on the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail or a 2.8-mile round trip on the Falls Nature Trail into Cunningham Falls State Park.

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Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, which spans 184.5 miles through Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., honors an early form of transportation in America. For nearly 100 years, boats used the canal to transport essential goods between D.C. and communities along the Potomac River. There are three TRACK Trails in Maryland. The Williamsport TRACK Trail has two options: the Lock 44 trail (1.2-mile round trip) and the Conococheague Aqueduct trail (1.4-mile round trip), and the town of Williamsport is the only one on the canal with canal structures and a half mile re-watered section for tours. The Brunswick TRACK Trail, which is a 1.6-mile round trip, and the Hancock TRACK Trail, a 0.8-mile round trip walk, both follow along the original towpath of the canal in their respective towns.

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Monocacy National Battlefield

Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland honors the Battle of Monocacy that took place on July 9, 1864 during the Civil War. A long battle between Confederacy and Union troops occurred along the Monocacy River after the Confederacy made an attempt to capture D.C. Union soldiers delayed the attack long enough for reinforcements to arrive in D.C. and keep the capital. The Monocacy National Battlefield TRACK Trail follows the 1.5 mile Worthington Ford Loop that features views of the Monocacy River and interpretive panels of the farm and Civil War history.

 

KENTUCKY

(Picture: A winter view of the Memorial Building, constructed around 1910)
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in LaRue County, Kentucky preserves both the birthplace and booyhood home sites of Abraham Lincoln. The property contains about 100 acres of the original family farm. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park TRACK Trail is a 0.94-mile loop that winds through a hardwood forest where the lower portion of the farm once existed. The trail connects with an old wagon road that crossed through the Lincoln farm.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

(Picture: View of Cowee Mountain Overlook (Milepost 430.7) with trees flowering in late spring)
Carl Sandburg Home

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina, preserves Connemara - the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg. The property features the original Sandburg residence, a world-renowned goat collection, and beautiful natural features of this mountainous region. The Carl Sandburg TRACK Trail is a roughly one-mile loop and meanders by key components of the Sanburg property, like the pond, rock outcrop, home, pasture, and barnyard.

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Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile parkway that runs through Virginia and North Carolina, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Drive by long-range vistas or get out of the car to hike the hundreds of trail options. There are three TRACK Trails along the North Carolina stretch with various recreational opportunities. The Price Lake TRACK Trail offers both hiking and paddling experiences: a 2-mile round trip hike will take you to a beaver dam overlook, while a 2 mile-round trip paddling trail will take you on a unique adventure around the lake. The Julian Price Memorial Park Picnic Area TRACK Trail is a 0.7-mile walk along the Boone Fork trail that ends at a unique rock overhang. The first ever TRACK Trail, the Asheville Visitor Center TRACK Trail, was installed in 2009 and is a 1.5-mile loop that follows a section of the Mountains-to-Sea trail.

 

VIRGINIA 

(Picture: Cannons and historical structures honoring the battles of Bull Run during the Civil War)
Blue Ridge Parkway

(See above for the Blue Ridge Parkway description). Virginia is home to five TRACK Trails along the parkway. At one of the most visited sites on the parkway, the Mabry Mill TRACK Trail takes visitors on a walk through early Appalachian life (about a 0.5 mile loop) and features a water powered mill, woodworking shop, and blacksmith shop. The Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center TRACK Trail is a 2.7-mile round trip along the High Meadow Trail beginning at the Music Center's Visitor Center. At milepost 63.7, the James River Visitor Center TRACK Trail has three trails to choose from, including the Trail of Trees and Canal Lock Trail, which are both about 0.4-miles round-trip, or the Otter Creek Trail, which is a 3.5-mile one way hike to the Otter Creek Campground. Another site with several hiking options is the Peaks of Otter TRACK Trail that offers two main trails: Johnson Farm Trail, which is a 1.8-mile loop passing through Johnson Farm, and Abbott Lake Trail, which is a 1-mile loop around the lake. The Rocky Knob Picnic Area TRACK Trail is a perfect spot to rest and hike the easy 1-mile loop through the woods.

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Manassas National Battlefield

The Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William County, Virginia preserves the site of two major Civil War battles: the First and Second Battle of Bull Run. The park offers exhibits and interpretive materials, including Civil War-era uniforms, weapons, field gear, and an electronic battle map. The Stone Bridge TRACK Trail is a 1.3-mile loop along Stone Bridge Loop Trail and showcases the biodiversity of the park since it runs along the Bull Run river and features a seasonally flooded bottomland hardwood forest. The Brownsville Picnic Area TRACK Trail offers an easy 0.4-mile loop through an open field, wetland, and woodland habitat.

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Prince William Forest Park

Prince WIlliam Forest Park in Prince William County, Virginia is the largest protected natural area in the D.C. region at over 16,000 acres. The park is the largest example of Eastern Piedmont Forest in the National Park System and offers miles of hiking and biking trails. The Prince William Forest Park TRACK Trail is a 1.5-mile long trail that loops through a mixed hardwood forest and along the South Fork Quantico Creek. Since 1936, generations of campers, hikers, bikers, and nature lovers have enjoyed the quiet woods and tranquil streams of this park.

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Shenandoah National Park

The Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia encompasses 200,000 acres of forested land, wetlands, waterfalls, and rocky peaks. It provides refuge for a wide range of wildlife, including people wanting to escape the city and enjoy the many recreational opportunities, like the three TRACK Trails in the park. The Blackrock Summit TRACK Trail is a hard 1-mile out-and-back portion of the Appalachian Trail that ascends 175 feet in elevation to a rocky overlook over the Shenandoah Valley. The two easier trails are the Limberlost TRACK Trail, which is a 1.3-mile loop passing sprawling mountain laurel, tall oaks, and feathery ferns, and the Fox Hollow TRACK Trail, which is a 1.2-mile loop through the woods with structural ruins that pay homage to life in these hills before the park.

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Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Fairfax County, Virginia is a performing arts center located on 117 acres that offers both natural and cultural resources for the public. It is the only national park dedicated to the performing arts, and from May through September, multiple amphitheaters present musical, dance, opera, and popular music performances. The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts TRACK Trail is a 1.5-mile hike around Wolf Trap Run and the Turtle Pond, and you may even catch a show while passing the Children's Theatre-In-The-Woods.

 

WYOMING

(Picture: Devils Tower stands out against a bright yellow cottonwood tree on a fall day)
Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower is a massive butte protruding out of the flat prairies surrounding the Black Hills in northeastern Wyoming. The Tower stands at 876 feet tall and is sacred to the Northern Plains tribes. In 1906, it was established as a national monument by President Roosevelt. The Devils Tower TRACK Trail follows the Red Beds Trail, which is a 2.8 mile loop offering views of the Tower and Belle Fourche River Valley. Travel through ponderosa pine forests and wildflower meadows and investigate the many cracks and crevices of this natural phenomenon.

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Fort Laramie

The Fort Laramie National Historic Site, located in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, was an important fur trading post in the early 19th century and grew to become the largest military outpost in the Northern Plains. The fort played a major role in western expansion, and its grounds tell the stories of pioneers, US soldiers, indigenous resistance, and fortune seekers. The Fort Laramie National Historic Site TRACK Trail is a 1.6 mile loop that leads to the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers. Restored buildings and original fort ruins commemorate life on the Oregon Trail.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

(Picture: Large old-growth trees surround the Congaree boardwalk trail) Credit: Blake Lewis
Congaree National Park

The Congaree National Park, located in central South Carolina near Columbia, is a 26,692-acre park that preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the southeast. The Congaree and Wateree Rivers run through the floodplains with rich nutrients and sediment that benefits the plant diversity and wildlife of this unique ecosystem. The Congaree National Park TRACK Trail is a 2.4 mile loop atop raised boardwalks through a floodplain forest. With trees averaging 130 feet tall, Congaree is home to one of the tallest deciduous forests in North America.

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Cowpens National Battlefield

The Cowpens National Battlefield near Chesnee, South Carolina preserves a major battlefield of the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Cowpens took place on January 17, 1781 when British troops attempted an attack on the Carolinas. In response, a patriot troop led by General Daniel Morgan performed a double envelopment around the British army and overcame them in less than an hour. The Cowpens National Battlefield TRACK Trail follows the walking tour path and creates a 1.25-mile loop through the battlefield. Experience the same terrain as those who fought in 1781.

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Kings Mountain National Military Park

Kings Mountain National Military Park is along the North Carolina/South Carolina border near Blacksburg, South Carolina. The Battle of Kings Mountain, which occurred on October 7th, 1780, was the first major patriot victory to occur after the British invasion of Charleston during the Revolutionary War. The Kings Mountain National Military Park TRACK Trail is a 1.5-mile loop that follows the Battlefield Trail amidst beautiful scenery and historical monuments.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.

(Picture: The Washington Memorial amidst a sea of cherry blossoms in late March)
Fort Dupont Park

Fort Dupont was constructed to protect Washington D.C. during the Civil War and was a substantial structure with a deep moat and fully stocked garrison. Though it's no longer standing, the park now provides an urban greenspace for visitors and offers a variety of sports, music, gardening, and educational programs. The National Capital Parks - Fort Dupont TRACK Trail follows the Turkey Trot Trail, creating a 1.25 mile loop on a relatively flat, dirt path. Enjoy seeing what's in bloom at the community garden and you may even hear a performance coming from the theater.

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George Washington Memorial Parkway

The George Washington Memorial Parkway, or G.W. Parkway, is a 25-mile long stretch of road that runs along the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, Virginia to McLean, Virginia. The parkway provides recreational opportunities for those in the city and habitat for local wildlife. The George Washington Memorial Parkway TRACK Trail is a 1.3 mile loop that follows the Swamp Trail on Theodore Roosevelt Island. Discover this unique wetland habitat nestled in the pocket of the Potomac River. Brochures are located at Turkey Run Visitor Center and not available on the island.

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National Mall and Memorial Parks

The National Mall and Memorial Park in Washington, D.C. is a space dedicated to impactful people and events that shaped our nation. While walking through this park, visitors can find historical structures and memorials dating back to the 1700's. The National Mall and Memorial Parks TRACK Trail is a 0.6 mile one-way path in the Constitution Gardens. Take in the beauitful landscaping, views of the Washinton Monument over the pond, and various memorials, such as the Signer's Memorial, on the trail. Paper brochures are not offered at this location, but can be downloaded/printed via our website.

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President's Park

President's Park is in downtown Washington, D.C. and covers 82 acres that encompass the White House, Eisenhower Executive Office, Treasury Building, Lafayette Square, and the Ellipse. Walk the grounds and reflect on the many significant statues, memorials, and structures that have led to the country we know today. The President's Park TRACK Trail follows a 1.5 mile loop around the White House and features historic buildings and monuments. Paper brochures are not offered at this location, but can be downloaded/printed via our website.

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Rock Creek Park

The Rock Creek Park is located in northwest D.C. and was founded in 1890, making it the third oldest national park. The 1,754 acre city park offers opportunities to escape the city and enjoy the beauty of nature. The Rock Creek Park TRACK Trail runs along Rock Creek and is a 1.8 mile out-and-back hike. Visitors will encounter bridges, wayside exhibits, wildlife, and the historic Peirce Mill while walking through this metropolitan oasis.

 

INDIANA

(Picture: Log Cabin in the summer at the Lincoln Living Historical Farm) Credit: Jimmy Emmerson
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana preserves the farm site where Abraham Lincoln lived with his family from 1816 to 1830 until he left at 21 years old. Visitors can hike the grounds of Lincoln's boyhood home and learn about the strenuous upbringing that shaped one of the most influential presidents. The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial TRACK Trail is a one mile loop that follows the Boyhood Nature Trail through forests and crop fields.

 

WEST VIRGINIA

(Picture: View of the Potomac River on a fall day)
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park encompasses Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. This land has witnessed many historical events rooted in the fight for civil rights, from John Brown's attack on slavery to one of the earliest integrated schools for formerly enslaved people. The Harpers Ferry National Historical Parl TRACK Trail is a 1.4 mile loop along the Confederate Battlefield Trail. Take in the views of the Potomac River and Shenandoah valley while walking thorugh Lower Town and across the historical grounds.