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Fort Frederick State Park

Fort Frederick State Park

11100 Fort Frederick Road
Big Pool, MD 21711

(301) 842-2155

Explore Fort Frederick State Park

Fort Frederick State Park is a Maryland state park surrounding the restored Fort Frederick, a fort from the French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War. The park is south of the town of Big Pool on the Potomac River; the C and O canal runs through the park grounds.


The site of Maryland's frontier defense during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the Fort's stone wall and two barracks have been restored to their 1758 appearance. Historic displays are in the Fort, barracks and Visitor Center. 

The park annually holds military reenactments and other special events. Park lands adjoin the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal passes through park acreage. Tours are available by request. Daily Living History programming is available from Memorial Day through Labor Day and on weekends in the spring and fall.

The stone fort, named in honor of Maryland's Lord Proprietor, Frederick Calvert, Sixth Lord Baltimore, was erected by Governor Horatio Sharpe in 1756 to protect English settlers from the French and their Indian allies. Fort Frederick was unique because of its large size and strong stone wall. Most other forts of the period were built of wood and earth. 

The fort served as an important supply base for English campaigns. During 1763, an Ottawa Indian chief named Pontiac forged a massive Indian uprising. Several hundred settlers and militia force sought protection within the fort during this brief uprising.

Fort Frederick saw service again during the American Revolution as a prison for Hessian (German) and British soldiers. In 1791, the State of Maryland sold the fort. For the next 131 years, the fort and surrounding lands were farmed. During the Civil War, Union troops were often stationed around the fort to guard the C & O Canal.

In 1922, the State of Maryland re-purchased the fort. Throughout the 1920's, the State began development of Maryland's first state park. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, a company of the Civilian Conservation Corps was assigned to the park to reconstruct the dilapidated stone wall, perform archaeology and locate the foundations of the original interior buildings. Restoration continued in 1975. Future plans include reconstruction of the Officer's Quarters and other defensive works.


America's premier stone fortification from the French and Indian War, boat launch, cross country skiing, camp sites, camp store, food and beverage, fishing, flat water canoeing, hiking trail, historic interest, picnic, playground, shelters, visitor's center. Call the park for fort hours.

The visitor center offers a 10 minute orientation film, "Legacy of Fort Frederick," upon request. Exhibits highlight aspects of the park's history.

Concession items, including souvenirs and food, are offered at Captain Wort's Sutler Shop. Call the park for shop hours.

Fort Frederick State Park offers an easy trail for hikers. The Wetlands Trail, .3 miles in length, passes along a wetlands area behind the campground. Hikers can see several species of turtles, waterfowl, birds, as well as white-tailed deer and other wildlife.

Located just one-half mile west of Fort Frederick is the Western Maryland Rail Trail, a 23-mile long paved path that follows the former Western Maryland Railway line. The Rails to Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization, recently chose the Western Maryland Rail Trail as one of the top 12 trails in the United States for viewing fall foliage. 

The peak foliage season in Western Maryland begins in mid October, and provides an excellent opportunity for picturesque photography along the trail. The Western Maryland Rail Trail can be accessed from I-70, from either exit 12 (Big Pool), exit 3 (Hancock), or from I-68 at exit 77 (Pearre Station).

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