Maryland offers its visitors and residents a variety of hiking trails - ranging from flat and easy to steep and extremely difficult - and all will reward you with scenic views, tranquility, native plants, rock formations, love letters, waterfalls, wildlife, and/or historic landmarks.
One of the most spectacular scenic overlooks, however, can be found in Knoxville, Maryland, located about an hour or 60 miles northwest of Silver Spring. The view is actually of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia - where the Potomac River meets the Shenandoah River - it is so breathtakingly beautiful that one can easily spend a few hours just sitting on the rocks, taking in the view.
It's a bit of a climb to get to that spot - very rocky & steep at times, it is not an easy hike! - but there is a short and a long trail to get to it: the Overlook Cliff Trail and the Stone Fort Trail. Last summer, my family and I hiked the latter (the long way) because we wanted to also stop at the historic markers - all is very well done and very educational. Hiking to the Maryland Heights means hiking in the footsteps of Union soldiers and Abraham Lincoln. Civil War soldiers lived and worked on the ridge for about three years. Remnants of the stone walls of the forts, for example, can still be found there.
To get to the ridge, old fort, and first scenic outlook is truly a climb. My 9 year old managed but not without some whining and she is a pretty seasoned hiker for her age!
For that reason, the Stone Fort Trail is not suitable for little legs and I cannot recommend it for children much younger than my daughter. There is, however, a very motivational aspect to the upward hike that kept the complaining to a minimum and provided a nice little boost: Abe Lincoln gave up. He did not make it to the top! But my daughter did and she proudly told people for days how she accomplished something that Abraham Lincoln was not able to ;)
The Stone Fort Trail ends in the Overlook Cliff Trail and you simply need to add a couple of miles to your hike to see first hand where the Potomac River meets the Shenandoah River! Bring a picnic, the overlook is the perfect spot for it (see my picture on top).
When you are looking to explore Maryland by foot, want to learn about Civil War history and/or want to enjoy one of the most spectacular scenic vistas Maryland has to offer, then head to Knoxville, MD (or Harper's Ferry, WV) and climb to the Maryland Heights.
I promise, it's worth every step.