Summary: This is a loop trail that includes the woods and high prominences of Blockhouse Point Park with a horse trail through National Park Service land and a return along the C&O Canal towpath. Views of the Potomac from the highpoints are excellent. There are also 3.5 miles of side trails or alternate routes as shown on the map. All trail within MNCPPC land are marked by signposts and blue blazes. Trails outside the park are not marked. The canal can be crossed only at Pennyfield Lock and Violett's Lock.
Use the topo map on this page to see the whole loop hike. Email the hike reporter for turn-by-turn trail notes.
There is an excellent map giving names of the trails within the confines of the Blockhouse Point Park at http:www.montgomeryparks.org/PPSD/ParkTrails/trail_maps.shtm
Trailhead: From the Washington Beltway (I 495) proceed north on River Road through Potomac Center. Turn left onto Pennyfield Lock Road. First parking area on the right is nearest the trailhead. Cross over Muddy Branch Creek to get to the trail. Do not cross the canal. Alternatively, there are two marked parking areas on River Road. Finally, you may stay on River Road and turn left onto Violette's Lock Road and park at the end of the road.
Trail Guides for Blockhouse Point Loop:
Hikes in the Washington Region Part A Montgomery and Frederick in Maryland
by Potomac Applachian Trail club (Potomac Applachian Trail Club)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Trail covers Montgomery Parks land as well as National Park Service land
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Richard Denton, who has posted 18 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by DWW on 6/14/2011
The only problem with this hike is finding your way, especially from Blockhouse Point Park to Violette Lock. I'd recommend going in a counter-clockwise direction as it looks on a map. Blockhouse Point Park has well-marked trails and a map you can look at at the main parking area on River Road. Find your way to Calithea Trail and follow it westward. Before it gets to the pasture, hang a left. Not well worn but still visible. There is a steep hill you descend to where the path is easier to follow. Bear left after you cross the stream. Once you arrive at Violette Lock Road, the rest is easy.
Reviewed by MB on 11/27/2010
We parked at the entrance off River Rd and tried to walk down towards Potomac to get on C&O Canal towpath. However, we couldn't get on C&O Canal towpath, which was on the other side of the canal, because there was no bridge. Please make sure you don't repeat our mistake.
Reviewed by Dave on 10/11/2010
My wife and I hiked this loop on Columbus Day and really enjoyed it. Some very nice overlooks and a very pleasant, moderately challenging trail. Tips helped keep us on track. Didn't see a soul all day until we hit the C&O section. Beautiful forest canopy and some great views of the river.
Reviewed by Tina on 1/27/2010
Great winter walk - just finished it for the 2nd time as we wanted to see where we went wrong the first time! Parked at main Blockhouse lot. Recommend following route north to VL first and then looping south. If you do the route from PFL to VL, follow Robert's directions (1/29/09) thru driveway. At end of gravel, take right fork with brown blazes, cross small stream and follow to left up and around hill. Continue to follow brown blazes until you are back on the blue blazed trail.
Reviewed by RJD on 11/23/2009
The Montogomery County map shows only the county park land. To do the loop you have to use federal land as well. The map on this web page shows it all. Also, as stated, the hike reporter (me) will send you turn-by-turn directions on request.
Reviewed by robert on 1/25/2009
I am not sure what happened with my last review. I have run this loop twice with my dogs and it is a nice trail loop that has a couple miles of towpath for variety. Both times I have done the loop I have parked at the blockhouse parking lot and run south to PFL to cross out onto TP and then North to VL. When you cross at VL you have to run up the road to the first driveway on rt. It is a common driveway for two houses and then it keeps going South and becomes a trail. It looks well travelled by horses and is easy to follow. Once back in the blockhouse network, you really have to have a map (available online from MNCPPC) to know which way to turn. All the intersections in BH are well marked. It is a good trail run of about 7.5mi.
Reviewed by Tim B. on 12/28/2008
PLEASE READ - This is a nice walk in the woods (if you can avoid the horse manure), but it is a circuit hike only if you know where to cross the canal (Penny's Lock Road & Violette's Lock Road). The map that is referenced DOES NOT show Violette's Lock Rd, and you cannot cross the canal to complete a loop unless you make it that far. Unfortunately, the description leaves this fact out, and a circuit would take you along River Road for a significant distance.
Reviewed by KN on 7/20/2008
Hiked the trail w/ my 4 and 6 yr olds this morning (7/20) -brief, but noisy contact w/ River Rd. served as good orientation for my first time on trail and where we actually saw a fawn. Be aware, track from bottom of Canyon Trail east to parking lot (shown in yellow) is not well travelled - canal provides all the situational awareness required to get "home". A little long for my 2 dudes, but tired kids eat/sleep really well.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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