Forum Index > Trip Reports > Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland (May 25 & Oct 25, 2019)
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GaliWalker
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PostSun May 26, 2019 8:25 am 
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Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland (May 25, 2019)

Rocky vistas and the possibly the prettiest forest understory I've ever seen were the rewards for my hike yesterday, in Maryland's Catoctin Mountain Park. For some reason, unknown to me as of now, the park is maintained by the National Park Service, although it is not a National Park. With its relatively close proximity to the Pennsylvania border, and the high density areas of Baltimore and Washington DC, it is an extremely popular spot. On top of that, given that it was the start of the Memorial Day weekend, I was mentally prepared to rub shoulders with the masses.

I left Pittsburgh around 2:00am and was at the trailhead for Chimney Rock about 3.75hrs later. The parking lot was empty at this early time (but would be overflowing on my return). A gentle trail took me steadily up the hillside. As I gained the ridge, I got my first sight of Chimney Rock through the forest, but it was another 0.5mi of hiking before I reached the top, having wrapped my way around the fin to its far side.

Chimney Rock was a jumble of flat topped rocky spurs, riven by deep fissures. The views from the table-top rocks were great. The morning sunshine was quite mellow due to some clouds, which really highlighted the sublime textures of the rock.

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After Chimney Rock another 0.5mi of pleasant hiking along the ridge got me to the stunning Wolf Rock formation. The quartzite bench, which was a seabed 550 million years ago, stood high and proud above its surroundings, which had eroded more over the millennia. Deep crevices crisscrossed the large expanse of rock, and I had to carefully picked my way across it to its far end. This was crowned by a rocky spire that the imaginative amongst us thought looked like a wolf, hence the name Wolf Rock.

7- GaliWalker on Wolf Rock (selfie)
7- GaliWalker on Wolf Rock (selfie)
8- The wolf of Wolf Rock
8- The wolf of Wolf Rock
9- Looks more like a turtle to me! (selfie)
9- Looks more like a turtle to me! (selfie)

I continued on my north, on a seemingly manicured trail, through beautiful fern gardens. The Thurmont Overlook was a disappointment, and I didn't even bother with a documentary photo. After that one I dropped down the ridge, and then began a climb up to the next vista, the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook. This was nice. Shortly thereafter - now hiking southwards - was Hog Rock, which was even nicer. Hog Rock sported views across the valley to the ridge I had walked along earlier in the day.

10- Manicured trail (selfie)
10- Manicured trail (selfie)
11- Amazing fern fields (selfie)
11- Amazing fern fields (selfie)
12- Blue Ridge Summit overlook (selfie)
12- Blue Ridge Summit overlook (selfie)
13- Hog Rock vista (selfie)
13- Hog Rock vista (selfie)

The section from Hog Rock along the ridge top and then down into the valley was through a forest that had the prettiest understory I think I've ever seen. The prettiest wild grass fields you could hope to encounter, stretching far and wide as far as the eye could see. Imagine a forested version of Hobbiton.

14- The Hobbit (selfie)
14- The Hobbit (selfie)

Back down in the valley, I crossed Foxville Road, and made my way along the boardwalk to Cunningham Falls. This is where the crowds completely destroyed my mood: I had been hoping to take some photos of the beautiful waterfall, but with people everywhere that was an impossibility. I just walked past the falls and picked up the Cliff Walk Trail. This took me steeply up, past some cliffs, to intersect with the Catoctin Trail.

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The Catoctin Trail rollercoastered its way up and down a hill and then began a more significant climb up the flanks of Bob's Hill. At the top of the ridge I decided to forego the Bob's Hill overlook; I cut across the forest on an unmarked trail to join the Cat Rock Trail, where I took a left. This trail would eventually take me back down to my car, but not before I got to enjoy the great views and rock scramble of Cat Rock.

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17- GaliWalker on Cat Rock (selfie)
17- GaliWalker on Cat Rock (selfie)
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Hiking/photography stats: 11.2mi, 2,750ft elevation gain, 8hrs

See below for Oct/25/2019 repeat trip.

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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John Morrow
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PostSun May 26, 2019 10:17 am 
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GaliWalker wrote:
For some reason, unknown to me as of now, the park is maintained by the National Park Service, although it is not a National Park. With its relatively close proximity to the Pennsylvania border, and the high density areas of Baltimore and Washington DC, it is an extremely popular spot. On top of that, given that it was the start of the Memorial Day weekend, I was mentally prepared to rub shoulders with the masses.

Hi Gali,
I wondered if it had to do with the fact that Camp David sits within the park boundary.
Lovely pics.  Would love to get there someday.
John

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
― MLK Jr.
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GaliWalker
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PostSun May 26, 2019 11:04 am 
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John Morrow wrote:
I wondered if it had to do with the fact that Camp David sits within the park boundary.

Of course! That must be it. up.gif

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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RichP
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PostSun May 26, 2019 4:57 pm 
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Beautiful green to contrast the amazing rock.
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John Morrow
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PostMon May 27, 2019 9:49 am 
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GaliWalker wrote:
John Morrow wrote:
I wondered if it had to do with the fact that Camp David sits within the park boundary.

Of course! That must be it. up.gif

I suppose the Executive Branch isn't going to leave the President's welfare to just any ole' state agency!

--------------
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
― MLK Jr.
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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PostSat Oct 26, 2019 11:42 am 
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Yesterday, I did a repeat of the thread's initial trip, to see how the parks - Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park - looked in fall...

Catoctin Mountain - Cunningham Falls State Park loop (Oct 25, 2019
12.5mi, 2820ft gain, 9.5hrs

1- Dawn
1- Dawn
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5- Transition (selfie)
5- Transition (selfie)
6- Wolf Rock
6- Wolf Rock
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8- Blue Ridge Summit Overlook (selfie)
8- Blue Ridge Summit Overlook (selfie)
9- Glorying in the colorful display (selfie)
9- Glorying in the colorful display (selfie)
10- Forest interior with hiker (selfie)
10- Forest interior with hiker (selfie)
11- Hog Rock vista (selfie)
11- Hog Rock vista (selfie)
12- Cunningham Falls
12- Cunningham Falls
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14- Hiker and cliff (selfie)
14- Hiker and cliff (selfie)
15- Cat Rock
15- Cat Rock

--------------
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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Roly Poly
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PostSun Oct 27, 2019 5:05 am 
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Fantastic colors and photography. I like your caption “glorying in the colorful display”.
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



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PostSun Oct 27, 2019 8:11 am 
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Thanks!

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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lanzscape
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PostSun Oct 27, 2019 10:49 am 
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I visited this park 12 days before you were there, Gali. Wow, did it change in those 12 days! This was my first time to this park, and I only drove through it and stopped at a couple trailheads, but the trails look great and your photos confirm this. I also went to the falls, but there was not much water and I was not impressed with it from a photo op standpoint.  From here, I drove up and spent two days in Gettysburg before heading up and spending a day at Rickett's Glen SP (my trip started in Youngstown, and I spent the first day/night at Ohiopyle SP). I assume you have been to Rickett's Glen. It was my first time there, and I was blown away by it (I left only because a 24 rain storm arrived). Rickett's Glen also has a very nice campground. Anyway, thank you for your trip report and sharing your photos. Beautiful photography as usual. Makes me want to go back and do some serious hiking as you did.
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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PostSun Oct 27, 2019 6:10 pm 
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lanzscape wrote:
I assume you have been to Rickett's Glen.

Many times; it's my favorite spot in Pennsylvania. I think I might close out my fall hiking season there next weekend.

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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