Squeezed into a two-mile wide sliver of Maryland’s western panhandle is Hancock, a pre-colonial trading outpost that George Washington explored as a young man. Once a bustling railroad town, and it is now a jumping-off point for outdoor recreation adventures.
Named in 2020 as the state’s only official “trail town,” the C&O Canal Towpath is the main attraction in Hancock, but the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail extends 10 miles east to colonial-era Fort Fredrick State Park, and over 16 miles west toward Green Ridge State Forest, making out-and-back loops attractive. The 250-mile Tuscarora Trail makes a stop in Hancock, and carries the Great Eastern Trail through Maryland. A popular boat launch allows folks to get onto the Potomac River. Hancock is about 30 miles from the fabled Paw Paw Tunnel, which once carried canal traffic through a rugged section of Maryland wilderness.
Local Events and Activities
In addition to boasting a top-notch outfitter and a diverse restaurant scene, Hancock has several B&B’s, antique stores, a grocery store, a market specializing in homemade pies, and a hotel. The Hancock Town Museum contains exhibits and artifacts from the region’s colonial and Civil War-era past. Stop by the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s Hancock Visitor Center, set up inside in the 1785 Bowles House, witness to the development, operation, and decline of canal life.
Parking and Trail Access
Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Western Maryland Rail Trail.