Explore guides have all the information you need about area state parks

Did you know that a nearby 13,000-acre forest is home to five state parks where visitors can hike, fish, swim, boat, camp, picnic, and learn about local history?

The South Mountain Recreation Area includes Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park, South Mountain State Battlefield, Washington Monument State Park, and approximately 40 miles from Maryland from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

Farther west along the Potomac River Heritage Corridor, three state parks offer adventure and discovery as part of the Fort Frederick State Park complex, where visitors can cycle along the trail Western Maryland Railroad, hunt or hike in the Woodmont Natural Resource Management Area, or experience a historical interpretive program at Fort Frederick State Park.

There are so many activity options near you, just waiting to be explored.

Each year I learn something new about the activities our area has to offer while working with park staff on the Exploration Guide publications. Herald-Mail Media will soon publish the South Mountain/Fort Frederick Explore Guide, which will be available at area parks and online.

In addition to park information, the guide contains maps for hiking and camping, a calendar of events, and information about related products and services from local advertisers.

Context:Want to learn more about local state parks? There’s a guide for that

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The weather is usually chilly when we’re working on the guide, which makes us wish summer was coming soon – with its increased opportunities to get out and explore.

One of the first activities of the season scheduled at Fort Frederick State Park is the 18th Century Market Fair, scheduled for April 21-24. The fair will feature a period tent village and hundreds of re-enactors, period craftsmen, artisans and sutlers. (vendors) selling 18th century wares.

Artisans will demonstrate vintage crafts, artists will provide vintage entertainment, and food will be sold by modern and vintage food vendors. The event is a fundraiser hosted by the park and non-profit organization Friends of Fort Frederick State Park. For more information, visit friendsoffortfrederick.info/market_fair.htm or call 301-842-2155.

There will also be a French and Indian war rally on August 27 and 28, and an open house and guided hike at Woodmont Lodge on September 11.

Local families can take advantage of the activities available at Greenbrier State Park, where a 44-acre man-made freshwater lake offers opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, boating and fishing. Bring your own boat (electric trolling motors only) or rent pedal boats by the hour during the summer. With a Maryland fishing license in possession, you can fish for trout, bass or bluegill. Free fishing days are the first two Saturdays in June and July 4th.

Visitors can take in panoramic views of four states from the top of Washington Monument State Park, which offers hiking, picnicking, camping, birdwatching, and a museum. Most of the Washington Monument hiking trail is part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Hikers planning an overnight backpacking trip can park at Washington Monument State Park for a few days. Day hikers can head north three miles to Greenbrier State Park or south to South Mountain Battlefield and Gathland State Park.

Whichever park and activity you choose, you’re bound to have an adventure. Enjoy, and if you capture a great photo, email it to me. Who knows? One of the parks might use it in next year’s guide.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail. Email him at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_Prejean.

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