The Potomac Heritage Trail, also known as the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail or the PHT, which is situated near Ashburn, VA, is a designated National Scenic Trail corridor spanning parts of the mid-Atlantic and upper southeastern regions of the United States that will connect various trails and historic sites in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The trail is part of the National Scenic Trail system. With 710 miles (1,140 km) of existing and planned sections, the trail network traces the outstanding natural, historical, and cultural features of the Potomac River corridor, the upper Ohio River watershed in Pennsylvania and western Maryland, as well as part of the Rappahannock River watershed in Virginia. The National Park Service is in charge of maintaining the trail.
In contrast to many long-distance hiking paths, such as the Appalachian Trail, the Potomac Heritage Trail is a general route with several side trails and alternatives, some of which run parallel to the river on either side of it. Currently, many of these are isolated, with only a few roads connecting them to one another. Potomac Heritage Trail: A Hiker’s Guide is a handbook that addresses the various portions of the PHT, as well as some intervening or neighboring locations. It is written in plain English. For this important section of the PHT, the C&O Companion guidebook is extremely helpful. It crosses over another National Scenic Trail, the Appalachian Trail, near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and runs parallel to the American Discovery Trail along the C&O Canal Towpath between Oldtown, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. The PHT is a National Scenic Trail that connects the Eastern United States to the Pacific Northwest.
When the Potomac Heritage Trail was designated as a National Scenic Trail in 1983, three significant parts of the trail were already in place:
Located on the Maryland and District of Columbia sides of the Potomac River, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath stretches for 184.5 miles (296.9 kilometers) between Georgetown in Washington, DC, and Cumberland, Maryland.
The Mount Vernon Trail in Virginia, which stretches about 18 miles (29 kilometers) between Rosslyn in Arlington and Mount Vernon, near the Potomac River, is a popular tourist attraction.
A hiking trail in Pennsylvania that stretches for 70 miles (110 km) between Ohiopyle State Park and the Conemaugh Gorge, near Johnstown, is known as the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
These trails feature a variety of surface types – gravel, asphalt, and natural surface, to name a few – which demonstrates the PHT’s overall heterogeneity when compared to other National Scenic Trails.
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