If you’re in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Maryland – D.C. Metro, or Northern Virginia and are looking for a friendly and comfortable campground close to countless recreational opportunities, you’ll likely find the Antietam Creek Campground perfect for your next camping adventure.
The Antietam Creek Campground (ACC) is a 20–site, National Park Service–maintained camping facility nestled between the C & O Canal Towpath and the Potomac River. This proximity to the Towpath, to the Potomac River and Antietam Creek, Antietam Battlefield, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, make ACC a great destination for hikers, bikers, fishermen, history buffs, family campers, and anyone wanting to enjoy a few nights outside.
The campground itself is nice enough. With twenty sites, a primitive bathhouse, and a relatively quiet atmosphere, campers of all varieties will likely enjoy the accommodating atmosphere. The sites are all spacious and are equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. Most of the sites are situated near trees, offering much needed summertime shade and a “sense of nature” often missing in more populated campgrounds. The bathhouse is relatively clean, however, after a busy Saturday night, they do get a bit pungent. The atmosphere is family and sportsmen friendly. Although I did hear a few college guys opening beer cans during my recent stay, no one seemed intoxicated, belligerent, or overly loud. On Friday night, half of the campground was relatively full. It appeared that a large family had rented several adjacent sites while a few kayakers occupied the remaining few sites. The other half of the campground, where we stayed, was empty other than our one lonely tent. On Saturday night though, the entire campground was full. Hikers, bikers, swimmers, families, and fishermen occupied all twenty sites. Even so, I never felt crowded or bothered by the company.
Although a bit expensive for primitive sites ($20 per night), I was happy to pay for such a spectacular camping location. Access to the sites is easy from the adjacent road just beyond the towpath. I was initially concerned with camping close to the road, but as evening approached, traffic was nonexistent and the road became little more than a fleeting thought. Even with the road close by, I still felt like I was camping in a natural environment as opposed to a parking lot with tent sites. In fact, I witnessed as much nature here as I have at many more secluded campgrounds. Between the deer feeding in the nearby fields, the rabbits, the squirrels climbing through the trees near our site, the owls hooting at night, and the bobcat howling along the riverbank, I was more than pleased with how remote this area actually is.
As mentioned, the ACC is located along the C & O Canal Towpath and is within a short distance of the Antietam Creek and Potomac River junction, Antietam Battlefield and Historic Harpers Ferry. The towpath offers anglers and outdoor adventurers miles of riverfront access. I have personally hiked and biked portions of the towpath and found the beauty a much–needed distraction from my sore legs and tight lungs. Both Antietam Creek and the Potomac River are popular destinations for fishermen, kayakers, canoeists, and tubers. Antietam Creek is a narrow and shallow stream ideal for close nature observation from the seat of a canoe or kayak. I have yet to paddle this stretch of water, but based on my research and conversations with local paddlers, knowing the creek’s cubic feet per second (CFS) is of utmost importance for enjoyable paddling. I would personally be willing to give higher levels a try, but family trips with small children may not be a great idea in high water conditions. In addition to paddling, Antietam Creek is also a popular fishing destination. Fishermen can expect to catch catfish, bass, and stocked rainbow and brown trout.
The Potomac River provides family–friendly paddling all summer. Wide and slow–moving near the campground, the Potomac is a perfect location for lazy summer days. River access is convenient from the campground, making the ACC an ideal start or end point for a day or multiple–day river adventure. Additionally, fishing in the Potomac is superb. I have caught my share of smallmouth bass and more than my share of channel catfish. During my recent visit, I caught a very respectable channel cat within minutes of my first cast.
There was one significant disadvantage to camping at ACC – the gnats. They are absolutely terrible. Although harmless, they are ever–present and rather annoying additions to your camping party. I found that spending time close to the river and avoiding the grassy areas during the day served as a partial remedy. Fortunately, the gnats do subside as evening approaches and completely disappear as night falls.
Overall, I thought the Antietam Creek Campground was a perfect location for family–camping and will probably work well for my solitary adventures in the future. If you need a break from the city or just need a few days of camping, canoeing, or fishing, why not take a trip to Washington County, Maryland, to camp at Antietam Creek? You’ll love the campground.