The Annapolis Rock/Black Rock Cliff hike on the Appalachian Trail, is one of the most popular in Maryland, and for good reason. The views from both lookouts are spectacular on a clear day. From Annapolis Rock the vista is to the southeast and Greenbrier Lake, and from Black Rock Cliff a 180 degree panorama west.
Annapolis Rock is also a popular camping area, with a campground of 16 sites including 2 group sites. A campground caretaker is also on-site during the warmer months, and helps monitor the area and provide information to hikers. The Annapolis Rock Campground is a non-fee first come-first-serve location.
Annapolis Rock is not only a popular location for hikers, but also a favorite spot for rock climbers. Black Rock Cliff, 1.0 miles further north on the Appalachian Trail is the favorite of the two overlooks with many local hikers for its panoramic views and less traffic.
Mile 0.0 – From the parking area on US40 start down the old paved section of the connector trail. Turn left at the blue blazes for the 75yard walk down to the intersection of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and pedestrian bridge over I70.
Mile 0.1 – Turn right/north on the white blazed AT as it follow I70 and shortly passes beneath US40. This section of the hike is noisy with the traffic on I70, but shortly after passing beneath US40 the A.T. will turn right and start ascending the South Mountain ridge. At the ridge the trail turns back to the left and the noise of the traffic starts fading into the background.
Mile 0.5 – Pass through a utility clear cut and arrive at the 1st connector trail for the Pine Knob Shelter. Along with the shelter there are 2 large campsites suitable for multiple tents. After passing the 1st Pine Knob Cabin connector trail, pass the second in another 200 yards. From this point the A.T. will become significantly steeper for the next 0.5 miles.
Mile 1.1 – At the ridge the A.T. will pass through several fern areas and reach the intersection of the Annapolis Rock connector trail.
Mile 2.5 – Turn left for the 0.2 mile decent to Annapolis Rock Cliff and camping area.
Mile 2.7 – From the Annapolis Rock Cliff return to the A.T.
Mile 2.9 – Turn left/north on the A.T. for 1.0 miles to the intersection of the Black Rock Cliff connector trail. The trail sign is not as evident when hiking from the south, but is located just before the A.T. begins a steeper descent.
Mile 3.9 – Follow the the Black Rock Cliff connector trail for 75 yards to the overlook. To return head south retracing your route back to the US40 connector trail.
Mile 7.9 – Arrive back at the US40 parking area.
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Reviews For The Annapolis Rock/Black Rock Cliff Hike (5 Most Recent)
My teen-aged daughters, husband, and dog did the 5.8 mile round trip from the parking area to Annapolis Rock a second time in two weeks we liked the first experience so much. On a hot day the woods were cool and shady, and we enjoyed the short climb and then the longer, mostly level walk to lunch on the rocks. One downer - somehow my small Nikon binoculars, which I have had for ~35 years, got left behind at the parking lot very near the trailhead. I know it's a long shot, but if anyone finds them and sees this message, please let me know. I can't give up on the idea that I might somehow get them back!
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 23, 2013
This is a very good hike for beginners. I went with a group of my friends and we were able to complete it (to Annapolis rock and back to parking) in about 4 hours and we all had little to no physical endurance training. There are a lot of families on the trail and everyone is relatively nice. We brought two dogs as well. If you want to bring your furry buddy its best if they are accustomed to other dogs. My boyfriends dog was primarily a house dog and was not accustomed to the close encounters with the many other dogs on the trail. In some parts the path is narrow so its a tad hard to walk around another group but overall its a nice hike. At the beginning and at the peak it is its coldest, but when you are on the forested trail it actually felt 10-15 degrees warmer. One note, DO NOT LEAVE ANY VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR IF YOU PARK OFF OF ROUTE 40!! Coming back the jeep parked next to our car had its back windows busted in and there was glass everywhere.
Date of Hike: Monday, May 28, 2012
My two friends and I hiked Annapolis Rock and Black Rock cliff on Memorial Day. One of us was not as experienced a hiker, but found the pace pleasant and not too challenging after one or two intense inclines. The vista from Annapolis Rock is fabulous, but agree with other reviewers about the interruption of the noise of the interstate. We overshot Black Rock by a good 4 miles, due to lack of good signage there--be careful! Continuing on the AT up to the summit isn't recommended for casual day hikers, and we came across a mean looking Northern copperhead snake lazily sunning itself on the trail rocks with not very much room to maneuver around it. This trail has nothing on Old Rag or the Piedmont!
Date of Hike: Monday, August 08, 2011
Not a bad day hike (pretty easy actually) but you can hear the interstate almost the entire hike, there was an accident on the interstate today and we could hear sirens for about 30 minutes. We didn't see too many other hikers but it was a Monday and it was pretty hot outside.
The views are nice but there are better outlooks in the Harpers Ferry, Loudoun County and George Washington National Forest areas.
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 31, 2011
As HU observed, definitely not for anyone who wants solitude. Otherwise, though, a nice hike. Up to Annapolis Rock, the trail is a tad rocky. Between Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff, however, the trail is mostly dirt and a pleasant stroll through the woods.