Underground Railroad Experience Trail

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD EXPERIENCE TRAIL

Trail Background

Established in the 1998 Ashton/Sandy Spring Master Plan, the simulated trail did not exist before 1998.  The trail was created by Montgomery Parks to provide more pedestrian trails in the community, preserve the rural landscape and commemorate a part of Sandy Spring and Montgomery County’s history.

There is no documented evidence that Woodlawn Manor’s owners or buildings were involved in the Underground Railroad.

The trail is owned and operated by Montgomery Parks/Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It is part of the Rachel Carson Greenway and the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom(opens in a new tab) program.

For more information on the trail’s creation 1998 Ashton/Sandy Spring Master Plan

What was the Underground Railroad?

The institution of slavery was legal in America until the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1865.  The term “Underground Railroad” refers to a 19th century loose secret network of people and places who helped enslaved persons seek freedom in northern free states, Canada and elsewhere.

The network was never literally underground or an actual railroad. There are no railroad tracks or tunnels to visit. There was no single route or trail used. The route and safe houses depended upon the freedom seeker’s personal circumstances, starting location and destination.

It was a civil disobedience movement involving many people, places, routes and transportation methods over land and water. It was dangerous for everyone involved and is an important part of American and Montgomery County’s history.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Park grounds and the trail are open year-round, dawn to dusk, FREE

  • Covid-19: All trail users are encouraged to follow current county and CDC guidelines on wearing facial coverings, social distancing and hand washing.
  • Trail maps available onsite or download a trail map on this page
  • The natural surface trail is approximately 2 miles long (4 miles round-trip) through fields and woods. The trail is not ADA accessible or suitable for all strollers. 
  • Bicycles are not permitted. Dogs must be on a leash.
  • Comfortable shoes suitable for hiking, weather appropriate clothing and sunscreen/insect repellent is recommended.  Tick season is here!
  • Free parking. Parking may be limited on weekends spring and fall.
  • Restrooms available April – November. During normal Visitor Center hours or for groups of 36+ with advanced reservation. Please plan accordingly.
  • Online educational resources available to complement a self-guided visit.
  • Groups 35 or less: No reservation needed.
  • Groups 36 or more: 1 week advance reservation required. On short notice, groups of 75+ may not be able to be accommodated.
  • Contact the Woodlawn Reservations Office 301-929-5989 (Press 5) MCP-WoodlawnGroups@montgomeryparks.org

For information on Group Guided Hikes

For information on Public Guided Hikes

For WMCP Educational Resources 

MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHY/FILMING

An advance permit is required for any media photography/filming on Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park grounds and the Underground Railroad Experience Trail.

Contact  MCP-WoodlawnPrograms@montgomeryparks.org or 301-929-5989.