The Catoctin Mountain Range in Maryland, which is one of the most wonderful recreational treasures within driving distance of Washington, DC. People in the area of course use it for hiking, but also in certain places for camping, for trail-biking, for fishing, and even for boating and swimming. The southern end of this mountain range begins in the south just west of Frederick, MD, and runs about 30 miles north, roughly parallel to South Mountain, which is more to the west, and roughly parallel to MD-15, which is just east of it. On both sides it is surrounded by productive farm land. Over its length, it comprises a ridge that dips a few times into passes. It runs through four parks, as follows from north to south:
Gambrill State Park, which includes several well blazed looping trails in addition to the non-looping Catoctin Trail. The looping feature of these trails is nice … you can park at the trailhead, and follow the loop trails right back to the trailhead. Some of the trails are limited to foot traffic, while others also offer the excitement of mountain biking. [Click here to see the sites in Gambrill State Park].
Strictly speaking, this mountain range does continue south into Virginia, but at much lower elevations and with fewer notable hiking opportunities to explore.
The Catoctin Trail … Each of the four separate parks include many hiking trails. Additionally, there is one long trail, which is a wonderful resource, the Catoctin Trail, maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). This trail is 26.6 miles long, and the northern end is just three miles from the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain. In addition to hiking and mountain biking, the trail is also the site for the annual 50K Catoctin Trail Run, which runs out-and-back from the Gambrill Tea Room to the Manor Area Visitors Center.
This photo journey provides you with an opportunity to virtually “hike” this trail in either direction. [Click here to see the sites and virtually hike the Catoctin Trail].