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.


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

  • Covid-19: All trail users are encouraged to follow safety guidelines on wearing facial coverings, social distancing, hand washing and avoid group gatherings exceeding current limits.
  • Trail maps are available onsite or download a trail map on this page
  • The natural surface trail is approximately 4.0 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 is available. Parking may be limited during peak visitation weekends.
  • Groups totaling 35 or more should contact the Woodlawn Reservations Office at 301-929-5989 (Press 5) or MCP-WoodlawnGroups@montgomeryparks.org at least 5 business days in advance prior to their visit for accommodation
  • Online educational resources are now available to compliment a self-guided visit

For information on Guided Group Hikes and Tours

For information on Guided Public Hikes

For WMCP Educational Resources 


An advance permit is required for any media photography/filming on the trail and park grounds.

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