GET Guidebook 1a

Edition 1/26/2013

Section 1a
Hancock, MD (MD 144) to WV 9
Distance 9.8 miles (5.1 miles road walk)

Brief Description of the Subsection

     The Potomac section begins on the C&O Canal towpath at Hancock, Maryland, and ends on WV 9 one-half mile west of Spruce Pine Hollow County Park.  It is one of the more gentle sections, with a total ascent of 800 feet and a descent of 710 feet.
     Hancock, Maryland was once known as "North Bend Settlement" on the National Pike and was a thriving frontier trading post.  When the C&O Canal reached it in 1839, it became a bustling canal town.  It is still a shopping center for the state's principal apple-producing region.  The town is named for Joseph Hancock, a Revolutionary War soldier, who operated a ferry.
     Starting at Little Tonoloway Park, the trail goes through the town of Hancock and then crosses the Potomac River on the US 522 bridge.  There is plenty of parking, privies, a drinking fountain (except in winter), and picnic tables at Little Tonoloway Park.  After crossing the Potomac River, it follows the edge of the Potomac flood plain for 3 miles on a hard-surface road.  Then it enters PATC-owned Ruth Morris Park, the location of the PATC Dugan Hollow Shelter, crossing two small streams with a ridge between.  Camping is permitted in this area.  From the 7.8 mile point, the Tuscarora is mainly on seldom-used country roads surrounded by fields, orchards, woods and a few houses.
     The section ends one-half mile west of Spruce Pine Hollow County Park on WV 9 where there is parking, two small pavilions, and a marginal spring.  Spring Pine Hollow Campsite, which has additional facilities, is across Meadow Branch.  See Section 1b.
     Since this section of the trail passes through several privately owned farms and woodlands, please stay on the trail and protect the rights of landowners, who have generously permitted us to use their land.


  1. At north end of section, Little Tonoloway Park.  Take I-70 west to Hancock.  The exit is MD 144, which becomes Main Street.  Turn left (south) on Pennsylvania Avenue.  In a block, jog to the right and then cross a bridge over the C&O Canal.  This is Little Tonoloway Park.
  2. At south end of section, Spruce Pine Hollow County Park.  From I-81 near Martinsburg, WV, take WV 9 14 miles west to Spruce Pine Hollow County Park.  The trail crosses the highway one-half mile farther west.


 North to south:  Take Pennsylvania Avenue north to Main Street (MD 144), turn left go about 3 blocks, pass under bridge and go left to go south on US 522.  Go south 5 miles to Berkeley Springs.  Take WV 9 east 7 miles.  Trail crosses at intersection of CR 1/6. 
  South to north:  Take WV 9 west 7 miles to Berkeley Springs and turn right.  Take US 522 north 5 miles to Hancock, MD.  After bridge over Potomac River turn left to get to MD 144, then turn right.  Go about 3 blocks and turn right on Pennsylvania Avenue.  In a block, jog to the right and then cross a bridge over the C&O Canal.  This is Little Tonoloway Park.

  PATC Map L
  USGS 7.5' Quadrangles: Cherry Run, MD-WV-PA; Hancock, WVA-MD-PA

Useful Information

  Emergency - In MD, Dial 911
In WV, Dial 911
  Services - Hancock, MD, is a full service town with a Post Office, several restaurants, stores, and motels.  Little Tonoloway Park has a boat ramp and picnic tables, no camping.  There is a Park Service Visitor Center on MD 144 near the east end of town (301) 678-5463.  Path Finders Outfitters is on Pennsylvania Avenue near the entrance to Little Tonoloway Park, (301) 678-6870.  They have bicycle and canoe rental supplies plus some camping supplies.  They also offer a shuttle service.


Trail Description, North to South

Miles Detailed Trail Data
 0.0 Begin at the entrance road to Little Tonoloway Park, Great Eastern Trail crosses the C&O Canal.  Turn right on Canal Road, and then immediately left on Pennsylvania Avenue.
 0.1 Turn left (west) at Main St (MD 144) and follow it through west end of town.
 0.4 Turn left (south) at ramp for US 522 and cross Potomac River on US 522.
 1.1 Turn left immediately after crossing bridge and follow River Road (CR 1) for 3.1 miles.  In springtime, the display of wildflowers along this stretch is quite pleasing.
 3.8 Pass Culp Road (WV1/1) on right.
 4.2 Turn right at "Tuscarora Trail" sign and shortly enter Ruth Morris Park.  Camping is permitted.  Follow stream (elevation 400'), lowest point on Tuscarora Trail.
 4.3 Cross stream, then climb ridge and walk along flat ridge top.
 4.7 Leave woods road, turn right.
 5.1 Veer left off woods road, still keeping high on ridge and descend into ravine.
 5.2 Side trail to right leads to Dugan Hollow Shelter in 100 yards.
 5.5 Cross stream, Dugan Hollow, then turn right.
 5.6 End of Ruth Morris Park.  No camping beyond this point.  Follow creek upstream, then climb ravine.
 6.0 Turn right on dirt country road.  To north is view of Tuscarora Mountain (elevation 1942').
 6.7 Road turns left.  Take gated, private woods road straight ahead.
 6.8 Private woods road turns right; continue straight on woods road for 300' and turn left on trail into woods.
 7.5 Cross wide gravel road and jog right.
 7.7 Descend from ridge into Swim Hollow.  Reach paved road, CR 8. (Parking for 5-6 cars.)  Continue straight ahead on road and cross Swim Creek.
 8.0  Turn left on road, CR 1/3, to Burnt Mill Bridge.  Excellent wildflowers on the steep slope between the road and the creek.
 8.4  Cross Sleepy Creek on Burnt Mill Bridge.  Continue on road (CR1/3), passing through woods, orchard, fields and farms.
 9.5  Turn right onto dirt road at mailbox with numerals 1915, then immediately left on dirt lane behind several houses to CR 1/6.
 9.7  Turn right on CR 1/6 and walk about 100' to junction with WV 9.  Take WV 9 left briefly.
 9.8  Enter woods on south side of WV 9.  End of Section 1a.  GET continues into woods. 

Trail Description, South to North

Miles Detailed Trail Data
 0.0  Start at WV 9.  Great Eastern Trail turns right on CR 1/6 road for 100'.  Turn left on dirt lane passing behind several houses.
 0.3  Go left on road (CR 1/3) passing through woods, orchard, fields, and farms for the next 2 miles.
 1.4  Cross Sleepy Creek on Burnt Mill Bridge.  Excellent wildflowers on the steep slope between the road and the creek.
 1.8  Road junction with CR 8.  Go right on paved road CR 8.  Swim Run is on right.
 2.1  Cross Swim Run and come to fork in road.  (Parking here for 5-6 cars.)  Go uphill on path between forks in road.  Gravel excavation on left.
 2.3  Cross wide gravel road.
 3.0  Turn right on woods road, go 300' passing road to hunting camp on left, and continue straight on private woods road.
 3.1  Pass through gate and continue straight on gravel road.
 3.8  House and yard and fence on right.  View of Tuscarora Mountain ahead.  Turn left leaving road.  Enter woods.
 4.2  Enter Ruth Morris Park.  Camping permitted.
 4.3  Cross stream in Dugan Hollow.  Trail slabs up ravine to ridge top.
 4.6  Side trail to left leads to Dugan Hollow Shelter in 100 yards.
 4.7  Veer right onto woods road.
 4.9  Begin descent.
 5.5  Cross stream.  Turn right and follow stream to River Road (CR 1).
 5.6  Leave Ruth Morris Park.  Turn left on River Road (elevation 400', lowest point on Tuscarora Trail).  In springtime, the display of wildflowers along this stretch is quite pleasing.
 8.7  US 522.  Turn right and cross Potomac River Bridge to Maryland. 
 9.6  Turn right (east) onto MD 144 (Main Street).
 9.7  Turn right (south) onto Pennsylvania Avenue.  Follow Pennsylvania Avenue, jog right on Canal Road, then left onto entrance road to Little Tonoloway Park.
 9.8  Cross C&O Canal on bridge to towpath.  End of Section 1a.  Tuscarora Trail and GET east branch north turns left and follows towpath north.  GET west branch follows towpath right. 

Trail Condition Report

Return to GET Guidebook contents

Guide to Section 1b (south)


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