Walking Trails Southern MD

Explore the Wild Side of Historic St. Mary’s City

on our Walking/Hiking Trails



Volksmarchers elected the trail at Historic St. Mary’s City one of their Top 10 Walks in the USA for 2010.




There are over five miles of walking trails at Historic St. Mary’s City.  Approximately three miles of paved walkways take visitors between the HSMC Visitor Center, the museum’s living history exhibits, and through the campus of St. Mary’s College of Maryland to the St. John’s Site Museum. During normal hours of operation, tickets are required for visitors to the living history areas.



Hikers can travel a rustic 3.2 mile path through 700 acres of natural areas without tickets.  This trail travels through woods and fields at water’s edge along Milburn Creek and the St. Mary’s River.  This hike offers numerous opportunities to discover the native flora and fauna of the tidewater region.  To help you get the most out of your walk, pick up a brochure at the trail head that includes a map and information about area wildlife, natural features, history, and some of the people who once lived in the area.


Both trails begin at the HSMC Visitor Center, 18751 Hogaboom Lane, St. Mary’s City then head south, away from the exhibits.


The natural trails at HSMC are maintained by a dedicated crew of volunteers.


Spyglass view of the river

We are open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Dogs are allowed on leash.


Official Designations include: Southern Maryland Trails Site, Religious Freedom National Scenic By-way Site, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network Site.


For more information about museum trails, exhibits, or volunteers, e-mail info@HSMCdigshistory.org or call 240-895-4990.

St Johns Site

St. John’s Site Museum


The St. John’s site is one of the most important historic sites in Maryland, if not the nation. The home that was built here in 1638 for Maryland’s first provincial secretary was one of the largest enclosed spaces in the colony. It was where colonial legislators met to hammer out policies supporting the Proprietor’s mandate to separate church and state–150 years before the U.S. Constitution guaranteed religious freedom. Of the English colonies, this was the place where a woman first asked for the right to vote and where the first individual of African descent participated in a general assembly.


The St. John’s Site Museum preserves the foundation of the home that stood here throughout the 17th-century. Original artwork illustrates the evolution of the house, the surrounding plantation, and Tidewater earthfast architecture. Some of the remarkable artifacts that have been found at the site are on display. Exhibits dramatize the events that shaped Maryland and the nation’s first freedoms and video installations introduce individuals and colonial lifeways.  Visitors can examine the contents of a trash pit and gain a unique perspective on life in another time. State-of-the-art exhibits guide guests towards understanding the ways scholars use archaeology, historical documents, and oral traditions to decipher the past.


Please visit Admission & Hours for times the exhibits are open. The Museum is located in the heart of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Parking is behind the St. Mary’s College admissions office, off College Drive.


DigDeeperDig deeper into St. John’s Site Museum.





Maryland Archaeology: Excavations of St. Mary’s City




In 1634 St. Mary’s City was established near the serene junction of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. For 61 years, this first city in Maryland served as the colony’s capital. When the seat of government was moved to Annapolis, the town was virtually abandoned and left to crumble into the soil. For over 300 years, the fragile remains of the town lay concealed beneath fields of tobacco, corn and wheat. Agriculture protected the archaeological treasure and preserved an unparalleled resource for the study of Early America. The National Park Service has recognized St. Mary’s City as “probably the most intact 17th-century English town surviving in our nation…represented entirely by archaeological resources.” St. Mary’s City offers a rare opportunity for researchers to coax information about the Maryland colony and people’s lives from a priceless archaeological record.


Keeping a Promise to the Past

Find out about Archaeology and Artifact Conservation at Historic St. Mary’s City. Learn about Metals, Organics, Glass and Ceramics and how the team learns about the past from these fragments.


St. John’s Freehold

Over the archaeological excavation of St. John’s Freehold, one of the state’s most important historical sites, a major exhibit has been constructed. At this site Maryland’s citizen government was instituted and the place of religion in a secular society was examined and debated. St. John’s has yielded an amazing wealth of information about Maryland’s beginnings and the development of a new colonial society.


Reconstructing the Chapel

The ca.1667 Brick Chapel has been beautifully reconstructed on its original foundation.  An adjacent exhibit helps tell the significant story of early Maryland, the birthplace of religious freedom in America.


Van Sweringen’s Inn

One of the most intriguing residents of Maryland’s first capital was Garrett Van Sweringen. Most everything we know about the Van Sweringen site is the result of years of careful archaeological research. Explore the site with this interactive map.


The Lead Coffins of St. Mary’s

In 1990, three rare seventeenth-century lead coffins were found inside the ruins of the chapel. Recovering the unique information the coffins held and excavation of other graves in the chapel cemetery, have enabled the museum to make a major contribution to the existing knowledge about life and death in the colonial Chesapeake.

Mystery Solved!
Our Lead Coffins are back in the news! Find out what we’ve learned from the 300-year-old remains of the baby.


Reconstructing the Print House

Excavations in 1992 discovered a site containing a quantity of lead type. Written documents and archaeological excavations indicate that this was where the first press was established in the English southern colonies.  The Print House has been reconstructed and furnished as a living history exhibit.


St Mary’s City Collections

Artifacts found here represent multiple periods of time-various eras of prehistory, seventeenth century, eighteenth century, and up to the present. Let us introduce to you a few of the treasures we have discovered.


Field School

Under the direction of the Chief Archaeologist, each summer students from across the United States and the world attend field school to learn the techniques and skills of archaeology as they uncover new evidence of lives and landscapes past.


All of Us Would Walk Together

An Exhibit on the Transition from Slavery to Freedom at St. Mary’s City



DigDeeperDig deeper into the archaeology of Historic St Mary’s City.