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Hiker Reviews for the Catoctin Mountain Park Hike - 1 to 19 of 19   
Review the Catoctin Mountain Park hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 11, 2017
We drove from DC and arrived at the parking lot at 8:15. I definitely recommend getting an early start because it was chock full upon our return at 12. This hike is a new favorite due to its beauty, geology, views, and proximity to DC. We hiked mostly alone for the first half, then started meeting more and more hikers as the day got later. If we do it again, we will probably turn back at Hog Rock because the first half is arguably more beautiful and rugged than the last half.

By: Kevin H. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 20, 2017
Arrived around 10am to the visitor center. Parking wasn't an issue at that point. Plenty of spaces available. When we finished the lot was full so take that into account. The visitor center volunteer was very informative and explained the best trail to take. This particular day was misty and foggy so the sights of the trail were not seeable, but there was something about hiking this trail in the elements that made it fun. Hike took about 3.5 or 4 hours. Would like to do this hike again when the sights are seeable.

By: Brad K Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I was not familiar with this park until reading about it on this site. Now I'm so glad I found it! What an absolute treasure and an incredible national park. The hike is the perfect combination of distance, scenery and elevation. I was there midweek during late fall and had pretty much the entire park to myself. Did not see any other person until near the waterfall at the end. I did it in a counterclockwise direction to spend more time exploring Chimney & Wolf rocks while still fresh. Saving the waterfall as the payoff near the end is also a nice bonus. The climbs were nice and steady, nothing I'd consider terribly steep at any point. Took 4.5 hours to complete the circuit, including a brief rest at the falls. Note the NPS is beginning to mark the trails with blazes, but at this point have only completed the project to near Wolf Rock. Despite lack of blazes, the trail is very well signed, wide and easy to follow. It would be very hard to get lost on this circuit. The views from the overlooks were not very good, quite overgrown, but the real highlight of this hike is the rock formations. It would be a very good idea to check in with the ranger station before beginning this hike, as it appears significant portions of the trail are closed upon short notice. Talking to the ranger afterward, the park gets essentially shut down when the president is using Camp David. You could find yourself a couple miles into the hike before being forced to turn around and go back down. On a brighter note, though, he pointed out that Obama hardly used the camp during his tenure and Trump does not appear to be much of outdoor kind of guy either. We're all hoping that the park will survive the next four years without being turned into casino under presidential order, or without any glass & steel monstrosity being built on top of the mountain! This hike is definitely one I'd like to repeat some day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 10, 2015
This is my second time hiking at Catoctin. The trail was full and I would definitely recommend getting an early start if you want to find a parking spot. Leaves are starting to change with lots of yellow, gold, and some red. Did a ~4 mile loop. Trail seems to be in great shape and I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a nice hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 25, 2015
I hiked this on a Friday in late September and had the park virtually to myself. I enjoyed the multiple overlooks and did some rock scrambling on Chimney Rock. I accidently took a wrong turn and added a two mile down and back to Camp Airy (the trail is not on the Park Service map).

Pros: Multiple overlooks, well maintained trails, good signage. I have always enjoyed Cunningham Falls so that is a good way to top off a day in the woods.

Cons: Several portions of the trail are wide smooth gravel. I guess one person’s Pro is another’s Con. I thought it detracted from the natural experience. It seems funny that they don’t blaze the trails to keep them more natural but are willing to truck in tons of gravel (note, the gravel tends to only be around the more popular places). The road noise off of 77 on the south side and 550 (to a lesser extent) on the north side was ever-present (mostly motorcycles). The hike between Cunningham Falls, the Visitor Center, and the Park HQ is within sight of the 77 which really detracted from the experience.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 9, 2015
A good hike. The trail goes up and down, up and down, giving you a good workout by the time you are done. The counterclockwise loop is good because you have more energy in the beginning to explore Chimney rock and Wolf rock.

Wolf rock was quite amazing.

The views from the overlooks were ok but not expansive and photographic. The falls were a welcome stop toward the end. We (two of us) arrived at 8am (it is a 70min drive from Dulles Airport, near where we live), and there were only a couple of cars in the parking lot. Taking time to stop at the various milestones including the falls, were back to the parking lot at 11.30am. Very few people on the trail and the advice to wear hiking boots with sturdy soles is very useful. The hike is rocky! After the hike, walking on a paved road feels like stepping on memory foam. Heh. If you are driving from the Fairfax county, on the way back there are quite a few nice wineries on 15-South after Frederick. We had lunch in downtown Frederick (street parking on Sundays is free). A couple of chilled IPA beers and a good cheeseburger at Isabella's did the trick for us.

By: ErikC Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 7, 2015
As advertised in the difficulty is a solid 3 a few stream crossing, but mostly bridged. It had rained off and on just the days before, so a few mucky spots but were passable. Not a trail for tennis shoes. A lot of rocks sticking out of the ground that will wear on your feet. I recommend solid pair of hiking shoes/boots. Forest provides a lot of canopy cover so it does not let a lot of sun down low. It would be good on sunny day. I will say that if you follow the I did this hike in reverse which was pretty awesome. I think heading east out of the parking lot gets a majority of the hard climb out of the way fast. The trail is solid all the way around. This may be a good hike for early winter as well.

By: Terri V Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 24, 2015
Had a great time on this hike in just perfect weather. The views were very nice -- Chimney Rock and Thurmont Vista were my favorites. The trail was pretty rocky in spots but manageable. I took to heart the warning to get to the parking lot early, especially since it was a holiday weekend. I arrived at the Visitor Center at 7:15am, and my car was the only one in the lot when I set out. I didn't see anyone else until I got to Wolf Rock, and then I started running into lots of people. I noticed that the couple of guidebooks I have show this loop in the clockwise direction, and that looked to be the more popular choice. But I would definitely go back and do the hike the same way I did it this time. I got back to the parking lot around 10:45am, and there were cars circling looking for someone to vacate a spot. Plus there was a tour bus that had just disgorged a huge crowd. So definitely go early!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 25, 2015
I have to say I agree with the previous review regarding there not being more reviews on this hike. I've hiked the Sugarloaf Mt. trail as well and I think that Catocitin definitely has it beat regarding views, but the two are similar. Started the hike just before noon on a chilly overcast day and there was plenty of parking left, but I am sure it fills up when the weather is nice. Finished the hike in 3 hours, without stopping for very long at many of the sights. I'd definitely recommend climbing out on Wolf Rock, it's a pretty amazing feature and the view is great. Just be aware of the large crevasses in the rock. The same goes for Hog Rock. Cunningham Falls is the last sight on the trail and a great way to finish off. The cascading waterfall is very beautiful. Noticed several groups of high schoolers and their parents going off of the boardwalks that lead out to the falls, to get closer. There are clearly visible signs that say to "STAY ON THE BOARDWALK". The park officials are clearly trying to preserve this fragile area. Please don't be like these individuals. You can enjoy the falls from the boardwalk perfectly fine.

By: G Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Surprised there aren't more reviews for this, especially with proximity to Baltimore/DC.

Nice circuit, not hard for experienced hikers but still interesting. There's a landmark every other mile or so, which helps cut down on the boredom. A bit rocky, but not too bad. Just be careful on the downhills.

A novice could probably handle this. If worried, just plan on doing up and back to Chimney Rock. It will give you a good workout and a great view. There is also an option to head back to the visitor's center instead of turning right to Hog Rock - a good way to cut down on the mileage and elevation changes.

I did this in three hours, but that's without stopping for lunch or more than a minute at the various vistas.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 12, 2014
Started at the visitor center at 8:40 am towards Chimney Rock. At that point we saw 4 cars in the parking lot. Got to Chimney Rock a little after 10. Great view! One other couple visited this vista during out small break. We continued our hike to Wolf Rock and Thurmont Vista. Saw two huge vultures sunbathing at Wolf Rock, many people visiting. We decided to do one more and hiked to the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, which took us about 35 minutes from the intersection where you can return to the North Parking lot. By then the trail was busy. Got to Blue Ridge at 1:40 and returned to the intersection and continued the trail back to the visitor center (back at the full parking lot by 3 pm). We talked to a trail rescue volunteer, and he told us, there are quite a few angry Copperheads in that area, be careful with climbing the rocky areas outside the trails!

By: Margaret Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 23, 2014
This is my traditional farewell-to-summer hike.  I live in Annapolis, and it's by far my favorite hike that's within driving distance without getting into camping.  A great mountain hike for the not-so-athletic - there's a pretty steep hill right off the bat, but it's really not much climbing after that.  There are rocks to scramble on, some nice vistas, and Cunningham falls at the end.  Plus, you'll have no trouble finding a nice boulder to sit on if you want to have lunch.  The woods here have relatively little underbrush so it's easy to spot birds.  Some of the stretches can be pretty busy, especially near the falls, but if you do the whole loop you'll find patches of solitude as well most hikers seem to do shorter sections.

By: Rod Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 12, 2014
That was fun. Went on a Sat. The park officially opens at 8 and I tried to get there right at that time. Took a couple wrong turns and didn't hit the trail until like 8:45. Parked at the visitor center, which is more than a mile up the road from the headquarters. There were already like 3 cars there when I arrived. Did almost exactly what they say to do on this site. Started walking toward the headquarters and then up to Chimney Rock. Once I got up on the ridgeline the black flies or whatever wouldn't stay out of my ear, so you may want to at least spray your clothes with bug spray. Chimney Rock is fun. Be careful if you are going to try to climb up it because there are some pretty deep crevices and you could get seriously injured or even worse. Although I climbed over toward it, I opted against climbing up it. Two Turkey Vultures ended up perching on it, which I thought was neat. Then marched on and scrambled up Wolf Rock and walked to its northern terminus. Be careful because there is no path/trial down and you'll have to figure it out on your own.

Also, it takes you away from the trail some, so you may have to walk back like .25 mile to find the trail if you decide to climb Wolf Rock. Thurmont Vista offers the best view, IMHO. I thought I actually saw some tall buildings in the distance and I'm trying to figure what they might have been. Also, I was looking east and the sun  was shining beautifully in the clear blue skies. Headed toward Blue Ridge and started to see people at this point (10:45ish), which is almost always undesirable when you are trying to get away from it all. Blue Ridge Summit Overlook was just okay, though I didn't stay long for all the bugs. Then I think I hit the first outhouse since either the visitor center or the headquarters (I don't remember having seen a bathroom at headquarters, though I did not look because the trail takes you around it) at the intersection of the trail and Park Central Road near a parking area. That lot was empty for some reason. Then I passed Hog Rock w/o even realizing it. It's on your left, not on your right. I mistakenly followed the sign on the right, which just took me for a loop and left me actually a little b ehind where I started from. Then I couldn't fully enjoy Hog Rock because some girl was out there meditating. Then you just follow the trail south until you get back near Foxville Road. Instead of turning left (east) and heading back to the v isitor center, you should cross the street and look at Cunningham Falls. It was quite crowded by that time (noonish). To enjoy it properly, you'll haveto either go really early (before 8) or during the week . Although the park doesn't open until 8, I don't see any reason you s houldn't be able to go earlier because you don't have to go through a gate. For those into rock climbing, you would surely enjoy climbing up the rocks on the north side of the falls. It looks a little hazardous to me, but I saw some kids doing it, so it's not impossible. Cross the road back to the trail and walk like 1.5 miles east to the visitor center. You can take this section of the trail really fast because it is almost all downhill. Be careful, though, because it's easy to get tripped up on the rocks, which are all over the trail. The parking lot was full when I got back and people were even parking on Foxville Road. To finish a nice, moderately hard hike (I made it harder by going fast and climbing onto rocks), I stripped off my shirt and busted out some push-ups in the parking lot. What a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. Will probably go back one day, though not this year. When I go, I'll probably focus on rock climbing at the falls. I'll also be sure to wear sturdier shoes or even boots because the trail is somewhat rocky and I nearly fell several times. If you are out of shape, you will find walking this entire circuit (8 - 10 miles depending on what you do) demanding, and perhaps impossible. Veterans hikers, by contrast, will rate it as average. As I am in shape yet not a veteran hiker, I'll give it a low 4 stars.

By: Rod Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Just to follow up on my previous post about the "tall buildings" I could see from Thurmont Vista. I have done my homework and am convinced that I was looking at the Baltimore Skyline. Go NOW on a clear day so you can see this amazing sight. I don't know, but my hunch is that it may be harder to see when the trees are green.

A second follow-up. Some guy was telling me that those buildings might have been in Towson, which is a suburb of Maryland. They do have a semblance of a skyline in Towson and I think Towson is closer, so he could be right. I'll get some binoculars and/or a telescope and figure it out one day. Sorry for multiple posts. This will be last unless go back and figure it out. Regards.

By: Jordan D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 8, 2014
A nice average hike. I went on this hike along with 5 other people and we started hiking around 10-11am. By itself, the course was fairly average all around. Nice views and some interesting spots to stop and look at. Wolf Rock was my favorite because of its semblance to...a wolf. We were hiking with training weights (bricks) in the backpacks and it was pretty snowy/icy at some points so as always, be wary and careful because injury can happen anytime. That being said, be extra careful around the crevices at some of the overlooks and wolf's rock. With the snow, ice, and bricks, the hike did present some degree of challenge. We finished around 4pm and were back home in Arlington around 5pm. If you're looking for an average day hike that won't take all day and isn't too far away from the DC metro area, this might be a good hike for you.

By: paul the red Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
You cant see Baltimore because Parrs Ridge blocks the view.the tower you see is the kiln in Union Bridge Md

By: Marc Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 30, 2013
A decent hike that has very few other people on it in the off season. There are some nice diversions to some decent views, and it's relatively short at about 2 hours. I like these types of up and down, not very strenuous hikes that get me away from the city for a few hours. The 5 mile loop, however, is not blazed. You follow the trail until you get to sign posts that indicate which way to go. Bring a map or pick one up at the visitor's center.

By: Pat S Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 23, 2013
Very nice challenging hike - would rate higher but late November, the scenic value is lower with leaves gone from most of the trees and the ones remaining are brown.  All the leaves also made it a bit difficult to find the trail in spots leading us off trail at times, but not too bad.  Just take your time so you don't stumble over hidden rocks and tree roots.  The chilly day cut back the number of hikers on the trail so we had the trail and key scenic spots, Chimney Rock, etc., to ourselves in many spots.  Keep your eyes open for woodpeckers - we saw one large one, I believe after crossing the road toward Cunningham Falls while walking on the boardwalk on the lower part of a tree. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 14, 1913
Quite a pretty hike. The geological highlights like Wolf Ridge and Chimney Rock are interesting stops and much more impressive once you get on top of them. Don't skip them- they don't look like much from the trail but they're worth climbing up and exploring. There are no blazes as noted but they have tied blue ties along the trees for the first 1.4 miles to keep folks on the trail as it's mostly rocks at first and hard to see where the trail goes at points. It is very well signed- hard to take a wrong turn here.

We (two females, average shape, frequent hikers - one 30's, one 40's) did this on a Saturday morning, arriving about 10:30am to the parking lot. Not many folks there but it fills up fast after that. Only one other couple on Chimney Rock & Wolf Rock when we arrived at them at that time of day in April. Lot was packed when we returned. Good weather for our hike- upper 60's. We didn't take our poles and you really don't need them on this hike. There is a bathroom at the Hog Rock parking lot a bit over halfway but no water so have enough w/you for the full circuit. I'd lower the difficulty to 2 if you do the loop as listed. Past Hog rock, and especially the last 1.4 to the visitor center is more of a stroll than a hike- very easy trail. Have friends that did this one in the fall as well and they commented the colors were beautiful and it made for a really nice fall hike.

After doing the loop as listed, if we did it again we'd go to the Hog Rock parking lot or perhaps as far as Hog Rock Overlook and then head back around the loop the way we came and skip Cunningham Falls. If you're going to see the falls, which are nice, arrive early and hit the falls on the way in. They are packed later in the day with dozens of folks scrambling all over them. The hike from Hog Rock to the falls and then back around to the visitor center is okay but it's where the trail is the most crowded due to the multiple parking areas w/in easy reach of those bits. The less crowded parts and the parts of the trail that make it a hike and not a stroll are all in the first half. Hog Rock Overlook isn't as nice a view as Thurmont or Blue Ridge so it could be skipped as well. Turning around at the parking lot or Hog Rock would give a loop back to your car still and come out 9.2 or 9.8 miles.

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