BLM Camping

Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for 1 in every 10 acres of land in the U.S.

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail traces the history of the War of 1812 along its 560-mile route. As you travel along the trail throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, you will get a better idea of the movement of British and American troops during this war, which was when Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem. Part of the trail is on land while other parts run through the bay and nearby rivers. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a federal agency in charge of protecting public lands, oversees the trail, and while there are no BLM campgrounds along the Maryland portion, you can find many great camping options nearby.

The Chesapeake Bay region offers many fun adventures, so everyone can find something that they enjoy doing. While much of the trail is in Maryland, other parts are in Washington, DC and Virginia. You will be very near Shenandoah National Park, which is a great place to go picnicking, horseback riding, fishing, and hiking. It will also be a convenient time to see the United States Capitol, the White House, and the National Mall.

What to See and Do

What to See and Do

Hiking and BikingHiking and Biking

Susquehanna Ridge Trail

This trail at Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace, Maryland, runs along a ridge next to the Susquehanna River. Find the trailhead to this path near the picnic area. Enjoy stunning views of the river valley as you hike toward Lapidum. There are some steep ascents and descents along this path. 

Length: 3 miles 

Intensity: Moderate

Periwinkle Point Trail

This trail starts at the back of the Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center at Point Lookout State Park near Scotland, Maryland. Follow the paved path, which is accessible to everyone, to go on a self-guided nature walk. 

Length: 1 mile 

Intensity: Easy

Purse Shark Tooth Beach Trail

This trail in Purse State Park near Nanjemoy, Maryland, offers a wooded setting. This area is extremely popular for fossil hunting. The dirt trail is flat until it goes down to the beach at its end. 

Length: 1.2 mile 

Intensity: Easy

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

Some parts of this trail are completed while others are still in the planning stages. It connects trails in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. It crosses the Appalachian Trail and runs concurrently with the American Discover Trail along the C&O Canal Towpath. 

Length: 710 miles 

Intensity: Strenuous

Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

This trail starts off at Boulder Way in Arnold, Maryland and continues through Baltimore Light Rail's Cromwell Station in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The track has 26 lettered sites that are of historical or natural importance. Hikers can learn more about these places by following a guidebook. 

Length: 13.3 miles 

Intensity: Moderate

Fishing and BoatingFishing and Boating

In southern Maryland, you can rent kayaks and fish at Leonardtown Wharf Public Park in Leonardtown and Solomons Island. In the Washington, DC area, head to Belle Haven in Alexandria, Virginia, or to Bladensburg Waterfront Park, where you can rent fishing gear and take pontoon boat tours. In eastern Maryland, you can take historic harbor tours, rent boats, or go on sailing cruises and chartered fishing trips at St. Michaels Harbor.


The middle of Maryland is a fantastic place to go climbing. Consider heading to Carderock to climb the Easy Layback. You may also want to go to Sugarloaf Mountain Park near Frederick to climb their 30-foot wall.

Wildlife ViewingWildlife Viewing

Consider stopping at the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary near Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where you can see Canadian geese in the spring when thousands of pairs use this site as a breeding ground. You will also want to explore the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Complex. Bald eagles often stop here, and you can see Delmarva fox squirrels.


Consider helping a park ranger spread out the flag at Fort McHenry before enjoying a picnic on the grassy lawn. Jefferson Patterson Park near St. Leonard, Maryland, is another excellent place to enjoy a picnic. There are numerous state parks along this trail that make fantastic places to grill hamburgers. Consider James Island State Park near Crisfield, Calvert Cliffs State Park near Lusby, or Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis.

History Exploring

There is history at every turn along this trail, so think about visiting Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem. Explore historic Annapolis, Maryland, on a walking tour and tour the Maryland State House, where the Continental Congress signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. Tour a 1600s working plantation by visiting historic St. Mary's City and learn more about Benjamin Banneker at the museum dedicated to his scientific work in Annapolis.


Bureau of Land Management Camping

RV Camping Caravan Icon

The only BLM site managed in Maryland is Douglas Point Special Recreation Management Area, and there is no camping available at this site. Other BLM sites usually require a fee to camp, and they often lack full services. However, you can find lots of other spots for RV camping near the entire length of this trail. One of the top choices is Assateague State Park near Berlin, where wild horses may visit you. Other choices include Elk Neck State Park near North East, which is on the Chesapeake Bay, and Camp Merryelander near Piney Point, where you can camp right on the beach. 

Free Camping Campground Icon

If you are looking for free camping near the trail, consider checking out local wildlife management areas. For example, you can camp at the primitive campground at Deals Island Wildlife Management Area along Robert Road near Dames Quarter, which has a 2,800-acre lake, or at E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area near Girdletree, where the fishing is often excellent.

RV Rentals Near Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Plan your next adventure

Planning Your Trip

Credit: Vanna Mae, @vannamaeart

Planning your Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail BLM trip

Since this trail covers more than 560 miles, your vehicle must be in great condition, especially if you are pulling a camper trailer. Taking your vehicle to a reliable mechanic before heading out can often help prevent problems. 

Many campgrounds are only open in the spring, summer, and fall. You will also want to check if significant storms will impact the area while on your RVing adventure. 

Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about BLM camping

Leave No Trace Leaf

Be a good neighbor and leave no trace of your visit behind. This is especially true when staying in campgrounds. Deposit all trash in receptacles or take it with you. If you see a mess someone else has left behind, consider picking it up along with your garbage. You may even want to consider wearing soft-soled shoes around your campsite to lessen the impact of your footsteps.

Leave No Trace

Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Location

This trail in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC is at diverse locations. You can join and leave the trail at any point. One possible solution is to start at Fort McHenry, which is located at 2400 East Fort Avenue in Baltimore. 

Ready to visit the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail? An RV rental is a great way to experience your destination. Not only will you be close to all the action, but at the end of a long day exploring, you’ll have your RV to return to for the night where you’ll enjoy a full kitchen, bathroom, and nice soft bed. Not sure about renting an RV? Here’s a step-by-step guide to renting an RV with RVshare.