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Fall for History in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area this Autumn

The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, a region rich in history and scenic landscapes, offers the finest the fall season has to offer. Enjoy the vibrant changing foliage, travel historic routes, and indulge in seasonal local food and craft beverages. Start your adventure in Washington, Frederick, or Carroll County with this guide.

Washington County 


(Trail at Fort Frederick State Park. Photo courtesy of Visit Hagerstown)

Begin your adventure at Fort Frederick State Park, where you will find a remarkable stone fort built during the French and Indian War restored to its 1758 appearance. The 585-acre park borders the Potomac River and the C&O Canal Towpath with various recreational opportunities including canoeing, camping, and hiking trails. 

(Western Maryland Rail Trail. Photo Courtesy of Visit Hagerstown

While in the area, visit the Western Maryland Rail Trail for a leisurely outdoor experience. The Rail Trail is about 28 miles long and parallels the C&O Canal Towpath for its entire length. With an easy grade, the trail is ideal for families, the elderly, and persons with limited mobility. 

(Blue Goose Fruit Market and Bakery.)

Make sure to stop in at the Blue Goose Fruit Market and Bakery located in Hancock, Maryland for fresh seasonal produce and fruit pies. 


(Views from Antietam National Battlefield. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Visit the Antietam National Battlefield to stand on the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in United States history and the birthplace of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Join a Park Ranger for an in-depth battlefield talk, take the self-guided 8 ½ mile auto tour through the battlefield, or hike the battlefield trails at your own pace. 

(Views from Antietam National Battlefield. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Before touring the battlefield, make sure to stop at the newly renovated Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center to plan your visit and explore the museum exhibits. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week, from 9 AM to 5 PM. 

(Antietam Creek Vineyards. Photo courtesy of Visit Hagerstown)

Unwind with a wine tasting at Antietam Creek Vineyards after spending the day outdoors. From mid-March through mid-November, the vineyard features live music for visitors to enjoy. 

Frederick County 


(Views of Washington Monument State Park, part of South Mountain State Battlefield. Photo courtesy of Visit Hagerstown)

Journey to South Mountain State Park and explore the landscape traversed by Civil War soldiers in 1862 during the Battle of South Mountain. The 40-mile-long park weaves along the South Mountain ridge from the Pennsylvania line to the Potomac River and features many great hiking opportunities. 

(Portion of Appalachian Hiking Trail. Photo courtesy of Visit Frederick

Hike portions of the Appalachian Trail to explore the scenic overlooks and historic sites along the footpath. Spanning almost 40 miles across Maryland, the trail has abundant opportunities for watching birds and other wildlife.

(Mid-Maryland Farm Market. Photo courtesy of Mid-Maryland Farm Market)

Enjoy delicious produce and crafted artisan goods at the Mid-Maryland Farm Market where the best local wares from Frederick and Washington Counties can be purchased seven days a week, year-round. 


(Cunningham Falls State Park. Photo courtesy of Visit Frederick

Visit the Catoctin Iron Furnace to learn about the area’s early industrial history and the village that sustained the production of the furnace. The furnace is located near Cunningham Falls State Park, where recreational spaces for hiking, canoeing, fishing, and camping are available.  

(Section of the Catoctin Furnace African American Cemetery Interpretive Trail.)

Hike through the Catoctin Furnace African American Cemetery Interpretive Trail or explore the Museum of the Ironworker to learn more about this Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site. On October 21, join the Spirits of the Furnace guided night tour through the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace and Village.

(Catoctin Mountain Orchard. Photo courtesy of Visit Frederick

Stop by the Catoctin Mountain Orchard for apple picking and shopping at their farm-fresh market. You can try out their many apple delicacies, including donuts, slushies, and pies. 

Carroll County 


(Wakefield Valley Community Trail. Photo courtesy of the City of Westminster

Begin your exploration of Wakefield Valley Park with the Wakefield Valley Community Trail, a 2.1-mile paved walking trail from Long Valley Road to Uniontown Road to West Main Street. This scenic trail takes you through the pristine Carroll County countryside offering the chance to view wildlife and overlooks right inside Westminster City. 

Photographs taken by Kelly Heck at Baugher’s Orchard & Shop in Westminster, Maryland.

(Baugher’s Orchard. Photo courtesy of the Carroll County Office of Tourism)

Carve out some time to go apple picking at Baugher’s Orchards and Farms or dine at the Baugher’s Fruit Market and Restaurant for fresh produce and country-style cooking. 


(Carroll County Farm Museum. Photo courtesy of the Carroll County Office of Tourism)

Experience a rural setting amidst the changing leaves at the Carroll County Farm Museum, located in Westminster, Maryland with their agricultural exhibits and farmyard friends. 

Carroll County Farm Museum. Photo courtesy of Carroll County Office of Tourism)

Plan to visit the Carroll County Farm Museum during their Fall Harvest Celebration on October 14 between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Admission for the event is free. 

(Old Westminster Winery. Photo courtesy of Old Westminster Winery

Treat yourself at the Old Westminster Winery with a glass, bottle, or flight from their selection of delicious wines. Live music sessions featuring talented, local artists run every Friday and Sunday, May to October.

Want to learn more about the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area? Plan to attend the HCWHA’s Year-in-Review on Wednesday, November 1 at 6:30 PM at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. The event will feature bestselling author, Clint Smith, as he considers “The Power of Milestone Anniversaries: Celebrating and Reckoning.” The event is free; tickets are required. Reserve your tickets through the Weinberg Center for the Arts

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