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.