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The Point Lookout Railroad Trail (also called Periwinkle Point Nature Trail) follows a corridor that was cleared in the early 1800s for a planned railroad line connecting Point Lookout, Maryland, to Washington, DC. Active rail service came to some portions of the corridor over the years, but this 1-mile section was never completed. Today it is still quiet, as a peaceful dirt path running through historic Point Lookout State Park.
Begin your journey at the trail's southern end. Here you will find the Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center, where you can stop in from May to September to learn more about the park's history as a Civil War prison camp. From the start, bear right for a leisurely walk on the trail's northern, and longer, section. The trail is bordered by reeds and pine trees and provides an occasional glimpse of the Point Lookout Creek. Marshy areas are found immediately adjacent to the trail and occasionally the trail itself is waterlogged, requiring slight off-trail navigation. This section of the trail ends in an open, privately owned field.
Turning left at the nature center will take you along a short (less than 0.25 mile) stretch of trail, where waterfowl and other wildlife viewing is abundant. The trail's end is a rewarding one, with beautiful views of Lake Conoy and the Point Lookout Creek. Late-summer visitors may be treated to migrating monarch butterflies, and if you are on the trail during the spring or fall, be sure to watch for migratory birds.
Point Lookout State Park is located at 11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, MD 20687. Entrance fees apply. From Interstate 495, take State Route 4 south until you cross the Solomons Island Bridge. After the bridge, turn left at the first traffic light onto SR 235, heading south. Follow this into the small town of Ridge and turn left onto SR 5, heading south. Take SR 5 as far as it will go (it takes a sharp right turn as you approach the 5-mile mark) all the way to Point Lookout State Park.
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