OVERVIEW: This 9.4 mile circuit hike offers all of the scenic highlights in Catoctin Mountain National Park. Beginning with Cunningham Falls, then Hog Rock, Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, Thurmont Vista, Wolf Rock, Chimney Rock (lunch spot) then returns along Hunting Creek. This hike is rated hard as many sections are rocky, and total ascent is 1,500+ feet.
This loop includes an optional bushwacking hill climb at the end of the hike which includes a 500 foot ascent in just under a mile.
DIRECTIONS TO HIKE SITE: I70 West to Frederick, MD. Take Route 15 North to Thurmont, MD. Take Route 77 West (the exit sign says Catoctin Mountain Park. Travel approximately 3 miles west on 77 and turn right onto Park Central Road. The Visitor Center is on the right.
Address: 14707 Park Central Road, Thurmont, MD
HIKE DESCRIPTION: Beginning at the Visitor’s Center (restrooms here) cross the parking lot road to start on the Falls Nature Trail to Cunningham Falls (2.8 miles.) Once visiting Cunningham Falls, return back to the cross trail section to begin the ascent to Hog Rock. Follow the well-marked circuit trail to the parking area for Hog Rock (restrooms here.) Cross road to continue trail to Blue Ridge Overlook and get a peak at the area where Camp David is located. Loop around to Thurmont Overlook, then Wolf’s Rock. Lunch at Chimney Rock before beginning the descent to Hunting Creek and follow along the creek for the return to the Visitor’s Center.
TIPS: Bring plenty of water, especially in the humid summer months. Walking poles assist with inclines and declines. Bring lunch along as this hike takes at least four hours. This is a scenic hike, so bring a camera.
COMMENTARY: This is the third hike in a week for me, totally my mileage to 26 miles ! This is the length of the Inca Trail so I’m very excited. Even though I took two days off between the hikes, it’s rewarding to know that I am capable of achieving this distance in a short period of time. Next..to try to do the distance on a double-header weekend that is scheduled in March.
This hike is in particular quite enjoyable with beautiful waterfalls, and scenic overlooks. The hike is quite challenging with a number of significant inclines that gets the heart thumping. Super workout and a beautiful day to celebrate the great outdoors.
For the photogs – the Canon G12 is now my mainstay for hikes. Super easy to manipulate the options on the camera, and I particularly like the HDR feature due to the high contrast situations that being in the woods creates. I’m pleased with the quality of the photos, although they are still a bit like a point-and-shoot. But the photos are a step above a regular point-and-shoot.
Hope to see you out on the trail !