History abounds along the WMRT
In its heyday, the Western Maryland Railway was a lifeline to the tri-state area of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Numerous opportunities are available to visit old ruins of days past. There are interpretive signs along the length ofc the trail at many of these locations. In 1990, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources acquired 20.3 miles of the abandoned Western Maryland Railroad line, and three lots in the Town of Hancock from CSX Transportation, Inc., using Program Open Space funding.
The first section of the trail, from Big Pool to Hancock, opened in 1998 and covers 10 miles. Visitors will cross Licking Creek where they can view the Licking Creek Aqueduct on the C&O Canal Towpath past several histroric sites and scenic areas including Park Head Level Graveyard, Millstone and Moffett Station, Little Pool and Hancock Station.
In June of 2002, the second section opened to the public, extending the trail from Hancock to Pollypond, a small body of water once used as a place to store canal boats during the winter months. Numerous rock outcroppings provide ideal locations for geological explorations along this wooded section of trail.
Pearre, Maryland was reached after the third section of two and half miles was completed in 2004. Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area and Sidling Hill Wildlife Management Area boarder this part of trail and provide a perfect place to see the local wildlife.
The western terminus of the trail at Little Orleans, Maryland provides a magnificent view of the Potomac River, West Virginia and the abandoned iron trestle railroad bridge over the Potomac. Completed in March of 2019, the fourth section by-passes the Indigo Tunnel using an ingenious set of ramps to access the C&O Canal Towpath. The Indigo Tunnel is home to eight species of hibernating bats including the Maryland state endangered Eastern Small-Footed Myotis (Myotis leibii), the federally threatened Northern LongEared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis), and the federally endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis). Bat gates have
been installed at both ends of the tunnel to ensure bat safety.
Along the entire length of the trail there are access points to the C&O Canal Towpath that allow users to create a loop trail of various lengths that include both paved and hard packed earth sections.