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We had a great stay at Cowans Gap. Very pretty park in a scenic valley between two mountain ranges. Very easy drive from DC. The sites around us were nicely spaced apart (we were in Loop A, site 142) but some other areas did loop more crowded. Nice hike up the Tuscarora trail - pretty steep with a few rock scrambles that made for a challenging but fun hike with our six-year-old.
It's a small campground and it was a little nerve-wrecking getting here for the last mile or two on local roads. There are a lot of fun activities for kids and the proximity to Antietam is nice. But, sites are tight lengthwise…whatever length you enter is the length site you'll get! Halloween parade was fun, but haunted house was HORRIBLE. We came in fall, so I can't judge summer and pool.
I was excited to go to this campground based on reviews and it’s location. Unfortunately it was so noisy with the sounds of guns from 9am-to 8pm daily. The highway is close so we could hear cars while sleeping and planes flying over head constantly. I’d give it zero stars, but the park itself is very clean and the site was big.
Stayed one night in September and had a nice level gravel site with fire pit, picnic table and bath house. Greeted by a friendly and helpful camp host as we backed into our site for our maiden voyage. Clean bath house and amenities. Stayed in site 25 with water spigot nearby. Dumpsters for garbage not a far drive and dump station as you leave the park was convenient.
If you are used to primitive/secluded camping this is not the campground for you. We arrived and there was a ton of trash in our site. Someone left their air fresheners, handbag tags from marshalls, and a ton of other junk. This campground is also very noisy. There are supposed to be quiet hours but people were playing loud music from their cars, from speakers, and whatever else until at least 11pm. Our site had no privacy either, we were right next to several other sites (closer than other state parks we've been to). Physical distancing and mask wearing was not enforced/required. People in the close quarters of the restroom were not wearing masks and didn't seem to mind getting within 6 feet of other people. The woman at the front office who we checked in with even took her mask off because it was fogging up her glasses. Oh, and the wood that we purchased from the camp host was wet, so the fire was a dud until a friendly neighbor gave us some of his wood.
The only positive thing about this campground was the hiking. The first day we hiked up the mountain to the west of the campground, and the second day we hiked up the Tuscarora Trail to the east of the campground. No other campers were hiking these, so we got to appreciate nature by having the trails mostly to ourselves.
The park is a beautiful one to visit and the sites are huge. It’s super close to breweries, winery’s, and historical battlegrounds. It’s dog and kid friendly with clean facilities. Unfortunately, gun fire from the shooting range can be heard 9 hours a day from any point in the camping area. The highway is close and airplanes can be heard so there is never a moment of quiet. We had a great time no matter what, but would have loved to know ahead of time. If you want to just get out of the city and be at a campsite within an hour this is your place, but if you want peace and quiet in nature look elsewhere.
We stayed for 3 nights at a hike in island camp site and LOVE IT!! The pictures just don’t do it enough justice, it was beautiful and relaxing. We lucked out to have the weather vary from cloudy, drizzles to full sunny days. Yes, there are trains that go by, and there is a zip line that goes over some camp sites (we were aware so it wasn’t a surprise) but honestly, we were down by the water and it wasn’t too bad. All the beauty and relaxation definitely over shadowed the other noises. There are plenty of water sports to do on the spot of the river (which was pretty calm, more like a lake than river). There are plenty of hiking and other adventurous things to do in the area. Finally there are lots of local history spots to enjoy as well as some local breweries and wineries. The only downside to this camp site for us was the hike uphill to the shower houses.
A good, comfortable place with a lot to offer. We’d go again.
We stayed two nights in Dogwood. The site was well looked after with camp hosts that seemed very attentive and thoughtful. Good rangers who showed up to help when needed. Everyone was (mostly) well behaved in the site, and we had a terrific time.
The facilities were clean. The sites on Dogwood are quite close together, but it still felt like camping. The nearby trails are great and the lake is a good place to swim or laze on a warm day.
Pretty standard campground—the perks are it’s location to nearby attractions and the river/creek. It depends on what you’re looking for—easy camping and proximity to Antietam and Harper’s? Golden. Especially if you want to camp but also do site seeing and/or paddling in the area.
Isolation and solitude, as well as good “car camping?” Not so much. The main problem here is that the campground itself is just one big field along the canal towpath, so you have no privacy from other campers. It’s also a weird setup with respect to parking—as you have to park on the opposite side of the canal and walk to your campsite. If you got one close to the bridge over the canal then you’re 100ft from the car, but if not then it could be a little bit of a walk. Not the end of the world, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into!
That said, enjoyed the experience here, but wouldn’t seek it out specifically unless looking for camping in this general area.