Fort McHenry Trail

Baltimore, Maryland 21213

Fort McHenry Trail

Fort McHenry Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Feel the stirrings of patriotism as you circle the most prominent symbol of the indomitable will of the fledgling United States. Walk along the seawall of the harbor where Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem.

From where you can see the water taxi stand, about 150 feet to the left, head right until you reach the seawall, and then keep it on your left. You’ll see many signs telling you not to walk on the seawall itself; people have fallen in here, and as you’ll notice, getting back out of the water is no easy task. The water is pretty choppy and slams against the big rocks several feet below the wall."

More Fort McHenry Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Walking Baltimore (Wilderness Press)
Evan Balkan
View more trails from this guide book
"This is a short walk that’s long on history and rather unforgettable as a result. It was here that Francis Scott Key, one of Maryland’s most famous native sons, penned the poem that would become the American national anthem. Fearing a British attack after our Declaration of Independence, the citizens of Baltimore hastily constructed an earthen fort, Fort Whetstone, on the banks of the Patapsco River. The attack never materialized, but the spot continued to be recognized as particularly strategic. Construction on a more permanent fort with masonry walls began in 1798 and was completed in 1803. It was named after James McHenry, America’s second Secretary of War. It was in the War of 1812 that the fort shined brightest and gave Americans a rallying point that stirs emotions to this day. The feared British attack from decades earlier materialized on September 13–14, 1814. The British had already marched on Washington, burned the Capitol, and now set their sights on Baltimore, then America’s third-largest city and occupying a prime location. Key, on a British warship in the harbor to negotiate the release of Marylander Dr. William Beanes, listened to the bombardment through the night and was shocked and thrilled to see the American flag, that “starspangled banner,” still waving come morning. One thousand brave Americans had repelled the attack, and the fledging nation was on its way to a future of unprecedented prosperity and might. Today Fort McHenry is the only attraction in the National Park System administered as both a Historic Shrine and a National Monument."
"Located in Federal Hill next to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, walk in the steps of our brave countrymen on a historical hike around the star-shaped Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem. The American flag waves above as you hike the Seawall Trail, a short trail that circles an eighteenth-century star-shaped fort. Birthplace of the national anthem, Fort McHenry’s perimeter trail follows along the seawall of Baltimore’s harbor, affording expansive views of the city’s waterfront, skyline, and industrial areas."

Fort McHenry Trail Trip Reports

With no trip reports, your opinion of this trail could be huge! Help other outdoor enthusiasts today.

Fort McHenry Trail Photos

Show off your photography skills ... post your pics of this trail!

Trail Information

Nearby City
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
0.5 hours
10 feet
Trailhead Elevation
10 feet
Top Elevation
USGS Baltimore East
Local Maps

Trail Log