It's been 250 years since the French and Indian War, when George Washington, a young colonial officer, made his way from the eastern seaboard past the forks of the Ohio River, where Pittsburgh now stands. Even in those early years, it was his Vision that the Potomac River would one day be a highway for commerce and play a critical role in the development of the early American colonies. While Washington's original Patowmack Canal was ill-fated, it served as the inspiration for the C&O Canal as well as the Goose Creek Canal.
Following in the foot steps of George Washington, the Potomac Heritage Trail Association invites you to share the Vision of an evolving 800 mile network of trails, anchored in a continuous route connecting the Chesapeake Bay though the nation's capital to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
As one of only 11 officially designated National Scenic Trails, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail provides a traveler with contrasting experiences of the changing topography along the corridor of the Potomac River and the upper Ohio River basin - from the tidewater expanses of southern Maryland and the Northern Neck of Virginia, past the fall line at the Great Falls of the Potomac, through the twin gaps of the Blue Ridge near Harpers Ferry and westward through the seemingly endless mountain ridges of western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania, crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, and on to the forks of the Ohio at Pittsburgh.
Whether progressing by foot, canoe, kayak or in places by bicycle or horseback a traveler in the Trail corridor will encounter evidence of our Nation's heritage, from colonial settlements to the birthplaces and homes of founding fathers, from locations of encounters between Europeans and American Indians to Civil War battlefields. The traveler will also experience Washington, D.C. with its historic communities, museums and national landmarks.
The Trail corridor embraces a succession of earlier visions to connect the seaboard and the territories beyond the western mountains. The traveler will pass over the National Road, follow the towpath of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and trace the route of some of the earliest railroad construction in the United States.
The ultimate gift of the Potomac Heritage Trail is one of connections between tidewater and mountain ridges: between the colonial past and the technological present: and among individuals who acknowledge and appreciate our varied environments, our heritage and the opportunity for self-propelled travel along natural and historic pathways and who are willing to work toward its completion.