Western Maryland Rail Trail Phase IV
The Maryland Department of Transportation and State Highway Administration have appropriated funds through the Transportation Enhancement Program to add another 4.7 miles to the 20-mile-long Western Rail Trail that is managed by DNR and currently runs from historic Ft. Frederick State Park, through the town of Hancock, and ending along the Potomac River at the forgotten canal town of Pearre. Over 135,000 visitors rode this very popular trail last year.
The new trail extension will bypass the 106-year-old Indigo Tunnel located ten miles southwest of Hancock, MD within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. This abandoned railroad tunnel is one of the largest and still healthy hibernaculums, or roosts, in the state and is home to five species of bats including the Eastern Small-footed bat listed by Maryland as endangered and the Indiana bat on the federal endangered species list. In order to reduce any chance of introducing White Nose Syndrome which has decimated bat populations along the eastern seaboard, the trail will bypass the tunnel.