From mountain vistas to cascading waterfalls, Frederick County offers a wide variety of hikes for people of all abilities. Some of the trails are well-traveled, favorites to both locals and visitors. But, for the individual looking for a more solitary walk in the woods, there are still many options available. Waking up early and enjoying the crisp morning air as bird songs drift through the trees is always a great place to start.
Black Rock via the Appalachian Trail—7 Miles
In the far western part of the county, the Appalachian Trail can be accessed off Route 40. A popular location, the parking lot can fill up quickly so plan to arrive either early in the morning or after dinner for an evening hike. From the trailhead start north. The first mile can be intimidating with a steep incline. Go slowly and enjoy the wildflowers that dot the forest floor and keep an eye out for cautious deer watching through the trees or the occasional toad hopping along the trail. After reaching the ridge of the mountain, the trail levels out and the miles will go by quickly.
At 2.5 miles Annapolis Rocks will be reached; this is the end destination for most hikers on the trail. Push on for an additional mile to Black Rock for a better view and far less people.
Cat Rock to Bob’s Hill—8 Miles
Enjoy the scenic views of Frederick County in a less-explored section of Cunningham Falls State Park, rather than entering the park through the main entrance, the trailhead for Cat Rock is located off MD-77. The rocky hike begins with a moderate uphill through a lush green forest filled with tulip poplars and ferns; look closely and sometimes the stark white of Indian Pipe can be spotted.
To truly appreciate the views of Cat Rock, carefully walk to the top of the rock formation. Or, enjoy the formation from the base and continue to Bob’s Hill. At Bob’s Hill beautiful views can be accessed from both the right and left of the trail. At both locations, keep an eye out for the occasional rattlesnake or copperhead that call the Catoctin Mountains home.
Catoctin Mountain Extended Loop—8 Miles
Explore the multiple views that Catoctin Mountain Park has to offer. The challenge of the trail varies throughout the hike, from rocky inclines to steep descents to relatively flat segments. Bring plenty of water and sturdy shoes.
Start the hike by heading towards Chimney Rock, and from there enjoy the highlights of the park. Catoctin Mountain Park does not use blazes, but keeps the trails well marked with signs. From Chimney Rock continue to Wolf Rock, Thurmont Vista, Blue Ridge Summit, and Hog Rock.