Washington, DC traffic is no fun.  Some love the area, but for many, the 50 miles surrounding our nation’s capitol are viewed as a mass of commuters that grows in density and frustration, the I-495, the Beltway, marking an orbit of wasted time and despair.

Given that many of us are forced to deal with the kind of social interaction that involves lane changes and blowing horns, this entire area has become a place to get away from – an ordeal to be endured until safely outside the city’s reach.  Because of all this, many fail to notice some of the quieter spots where nature takes refuge – Cedarville State Forest, in southern Maryland, is one such place.

Not too far off the Washington, DC Beltway, sitting between Waldorf and Brandywine, MD, Cedarville is a protected area holding the headwaters of the Zekiah Swamp, and is comprised mostly of wooded, flat bottomland, and acres of poplar, oak, gum, beech, and holly trees.  The park holds 19.5 miles of well-maintained, well-marked singletrack trail, open to hikers, bikers, and those on horseback.  A large campground is open April through October, and a 4-acre freshwater pond (built for flood management) holds bluegill, bass and catfish.


Zekiah Swamp Run – One of two major streams draining the area and feeding the swamp downstream.

It’s a largely undiscovered gem – every time I’ve been there, I’ve had miles of forest trail essentially to myself, sharing only with woodpeckers, wild turkeys, and songbirds.

Unfortunately, trail maps are not available for download, they must be purchased from the state Department of Natural Resources, or at the park – but several short loops are available, and I’ve recently strung together over 10 miles combining the orange, blue, and white trails for a perimeter trek.  Here’s a recent ramble of just over 4 miles, on the blue trail, to give a sense of the place.

For more information on Cedarville, check out their website here: Cedarville State Forest Information

Get Out There


Beaver activity in Cedarville State Forest

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