Until we came to Fort Necessity, I had never heard of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. But that isn’t unusual. Tom and I are always finding National Park System units that we have never heard of before. You probably never heard of Fort Necessity before I started working here!
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail runs from Washington DC to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is one of the National Scenic Trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. A National Scenic Trail is a continuous, extended route of outdoor recreation within protected corridors. The Potomac Heritage Trail is best known for certain parts of the trail: the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, and the Laurel Highlands Trail.
Closer to Washington DC, the trail includes the Mount Vernon Trail, the Northern Neck Heritage Trail, the Southern Maryland Potomac Heritage Trail, and the Fort Circle Parks Trail. The Potomac Heritage Trail explores the areas that George Washington considered to be essential to our development as a nation. All of these disparate trails were combined into the Potomac Heritage Trail in 1983 and included as part of the National Park Service.
There are five distinct geographical zones: Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Great Valley, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau. Each one of these zones has its own kind of beauty that can be explored by traveling the Potomac Heritage Trail. You can bike, hike, or paddle along the trail, taking a long time to explore or zipping by on your bike.
Tom and I have done many parts of this trail over the years. We hiked the Laurel Highlands Trail (Tom did all of it) and rode our bike on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath Trail. This year we rode our first section of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. We plan to explore some parts of the trail around Washington DC in October. If you did all the parts of the trail, you would cover 710 miles.