The DC area is chock full of history and Montgomery County in MD is no exception. The Underground Railroad Experience Trail is a 2 mile round trip route through beautiful scenery that begins and ends at Woodlawn Manor in Sandy Spring, MD. We decided to take advantage of this cultural resource on a beautiful Saturday during Memorial Day Weekend.
A Learning Experience at the Underground Railroad Trail
In Montgomery County Public Schools the 4th grade curriculum studies the era of slavery in the US. With one daughter finishing up 4th grade and the other heading to 4th grade next fall, the Underground Railroad Trail was a great way to combine exercise with some hands on learning.
The park service offers guided hikes of the trail year around. The guides move at a slow pace and the round trip hike takes two and a half hours. There is free parking at the trailhead at Woodlawn Manor.
Experiencing the Trail
We started out our day with intentions of joining the guided hike but decided to branch out on our own due to the size of the group and the slow pace. If you decide to visit the trail without a guide be sure to download the trail guide before you go. Nine markers along the trail tell the story of slaves using the trail and the features of the landscape that they used to keep safe.
There were no paper trail guides available when we arrived so we took a picture of the one on display at the start of the trail and used that to read the information for each marker. There is no written information at the 9 trail markers along the way so having the guide is essential to getting the historical information while on the trail.
The trail begins in sun, travels mostly through shade and takes only about an hour at a good pace with stopping at each of the trail markers. There are a few places where the trail splits in different directions but the guide will lead you the “right” way. The trail is mostly flat with a few rocky spots. There is one stream crossing which has recently received a donated bridge for easier access. Friends of ours on the guided hike pushed a younger child in a BOB stroller without too many problems. No pets are allowed on the trail.
The manor house at Woodlawn is not open to the public but you can walk the grounds of the property to get a sense of the history at this home. The Underground Railroad Experience Trail is open to the public daily from dawn until dusk. There is no fee for either the guided hike or self guided tour.
The trail is very scenic. Although located primarily in the woods, the trail does go around a corn field.
Grab a backpack and a trail guide and head back in time to the 1850s to experience the Underground Railroad Trail.