Located on the north side of Turners Gap is Monument Knob along South Mountain in Washington County Maryland, just east of Boonsboro. Washington Monument State Park is the located here and is the site of the first monument in the country erected for George Washington. The stone tower was dedicated to the first president by the people of Boonsboro in 1827. The Appalachian Trail crosses through this park and passes the base of the monument. The entire park is located along the ridge of South Mountain on a section known as Monument Knob. The view from the stone tower is breathtaking.
There are youth group campsites available by reservation. The park has picnic shelters, playing fields and excellant birdwatching since the Cumberland Valley is a migratory bird flyway. An annual count of migrating birds of prey is made at the monument by bird enthusiats.
This area is well worth the visit if hiking along the Appalachian Trail or just for stopping here by itself. Unlike other places along South Mountain...High Rock, Raven Rock, Black Rock, Annapolis Rock, the only views here are really from the tower of the monument. So maybe it's not a true hiking destination. However, it does deserve to be noticed as a scenic and important part to the history of South Moutain for those hiking in the area.
* Historic interest,
South Mountain Inn
* Family fun
* Youth Camping
* Bird Watching
Washington Monument Hawk Watch
Getting there.Location - In Washington County, 4 miles east of Boonsboro, off Alternate Route 40. Travel East on Alternate 40 to Monument Road and turn left and continue 1 1/2 miles north of Alternate Route 40 on Monument Road to the park.
The Turn from Rt 40A onto Monument Rd. is smack in the middle of Turners Gap and the location of the Dahlgren Chapel, South Mountain Inn, and the location of Cival War fighting during the Battle of South Mountain.
Hiking to it can be done from any access point along the Appalachian Trail. The monument itself is just off of and can be seen from the Appalachian Trail.
Historic Features of the AreaIn the mid-1700's, a tavern was built in the mountain pass called Turner's Gap. In 1876, Mrs. Dahlgren purchased the old tavern atop South Mountain and transformed it into a private summer residence for her family. The National Trail, later known as the National Road, is now US Route 40A and the tavern, once called Dahlgren Manor, is now the South Mountain Inn.
Mrs. Dahlgren was a devout Catholic and she soon immersed herself in missionary work on South Mountain. Perhaps motivated by her successes, she decided in 1881 to build a chapel across from her home. The church was consecrated "The Chapel of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus" but was known simply as Dahlgren Chapel.
After invading Maryland in September 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee divided his army to march on and invest Harpers Ferry. The Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan pursued the Confederates to Frederick, Maryland, then advanced on South Mountain. On September 14, pitched battles were fought for possession of the South Mountain passes: Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps. By dusk the Confederate defenders were driven back, suffering severe casualties, and McClellan was in position to destroy Lee’s army before it could reconcentrate. McClellan’s limited activity on September 15 after his victory at South Mountain, however, condemned the garrison at Harpers Ferry to capture and gave Lee time to unite his scattered divisions at Sharpsburg. Union general Jesse Reno and Confederate general Samuel Garland, Jr., were killed at South Mountain. An estimated 4500 casualties were the result of the battle for South Mountain.
George Washington Monument State Park is the location of the first monument in the country erected to George Washington the "Father of our Country". The stone tower was dedicated to the first president by the people of Boonsboro in 1827.
Bird WatchingThere is a regular but fairly informal hawk-watch atop the monument. One or more counters is present many days, at least through the morning hours during migration. The hawk watch is located at the top of the tower, about a 1/4 mile walk uphill from the parking area. The view alone is worth the visit, but since the Cumberland Valley is a migatory bird flyway, the park offers excellent all around birdwatching opportunities.
Hawk Watch results can be found here
HikingThe Appalachian Trail runs straight through the park and passes the Dahlgren Chapel and South Mountain Inn. Parking can be had at the park itself or at South Mountain Inn by permission and often with a fee.
Or you can extend your hike by picking any point north or south along the Appalachian Trail and hiking to the monument.
ContactWashington Monument State Park
Greenbrier State Park
21843 National Pike
Boonsboro, MD 21713
Call 1-888-432-CAMP(2267) for reservations