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Annapolis Rock/Black Rock Cliff, MD

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.9 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
840 ft
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Parking on US40. 39.53555, -77.60408

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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Hiker Reviews For The Annapolis Rock/Black Rock Cliff Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 15, 2014
This is nice beginners hike. The trails are wide and well worn since youre on a popular section of the AT. The only climb is during the first mile or so. After that, the trail is relatively flat and easy. Both vistas offer a pretty view and some fun climbing on the rocks. We got there early so we had both spots to ourselves which was nice.

By: Brent Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 15, 2013
We hiked this right after the snow storm. There was 3" of snow on the ground. This made the hike for us. This hike would have been a breeze otherwise. The trail is even and most of the trail is fairly easy. I suggest this hike for winter time when there is hardly anyone out and it isn't so steep that you are sliding down the mountain. It is also nice that if you are tired after the first overlook you could turn back. Some locals also come from the opposite direction for a shorter but steeper climb. Would be great for hikers with dogs. With the wind after the first half mile we never heard the highway at all. Overall great hike with good views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 07, 2013
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!

By: Nichelle Rating: 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.

By: Lauren Rating: 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!

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Mid June
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