Catoctin Trail - blue blaze (26.5 miles - 42.4 kilometers) This trail traverses Gambrill State Park for approximately 3.0 miles, and continues north through the Federick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls State Park, and Catoctin Mountain National Park. The trail ends at Mt. Zion Road, 1.3 miles north of Owens Creek Campground in Catoctin Mountain Park. The Appalachian Trail may be reached by traveling west on Mt. Zion Road to Raven Rock Road for two miles. Camping is permitted only at Rock Run Campground (Gambrill State Park), the Manor and Houck Campgrounds (Cunningham Falls State Park), and Owens Creek Campground (Catoctin Mountain Park). If you need to leave a vehicle overnight somewhere, please check with the authorities of that area. The trail is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. The Catoctin is as pretty and peaceful as any Maryland part of the Appalachian Trail. The Mountain Bikers that I met were courteous and friendly as they passed.
Maryland's Catoctin Mountain Parks : An Interpretive Guide to Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park - Maryland's Catoctin Mountain Parks provides the most current and comprehensive review available of the natural and human history of the Catoctin Mountain region of Maryland, a part of the beautiful and interesting Blue Ridge physiographic province. The book is divided into three sections. In section one, the author systematically reviews the landforms, waters, weather, plants, animals, and other environmental features of the region, and then reviews how humans have used and modified this mountain landscape. Section two is a detailed guide which provides the reader with maps and descriptive information about the parks - all of which make reading about or visiting this part of the Blue Ridge an easier, more meaningful, and more satisfying experience. Sources of additional information about the parks and the Catoctin Mountain region are provided in section three.
Catoctin Trail GPS Waypoints/Landmarks - The trail begins in Gambrill State Park in a large dirt parking lot at 39° 27' 45" N / 077° 29' 26" W. There are many colored loop trails, but you want the blue trail. Where it crosses Hamburg Road 39° 30' 58" N / 077° 29' 38" W, there is room for about five vehicles to park. At 39° 32' 00" N / 077° 29' 07" W, there is a side trail to Fishing Creek Road. If you take the cut off toward Fishing Creek Road, you pass a pond where we saw a father and his daughter swimming at 39° 32' 04" N / 077° 29' 00" W. A little further and you pass a clear and cool stream. The side trail reaches Fishing Creek Road at 39° 32' 06" N / 077° 28' 50" W. There is room for one vehicle to park there. The Catoctin Trail crosses Rum Spring Road at 39° 32' 38" N / 077° 29' 31" W. Steep Creek crosses Rum Spring Road before it gets to Creek Road at 39° 32' 38" N / 077° 28' 48" W. A four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to cross it. A beaver is active at the pond at 39° 33' 54" N / 77° 28' 03" W. When we were watching the frogs near noon on July 1, 2000, two dogs, four horses, and their very friendly and kind owners joined us. They warned us that at the overlook at 39° 34' 09 / 077° 27' 12" W, a rattlesnake had been seen the day before. The view is good here. This is just pass where Gambrill Park Road crosses the trail at 39° 34' 07" N / 077° 27' 23" W. The trail ends at 39° 40' 21" N / 077° 29' 50" W. A horse trail runs along a field to the parking at 39° 40' 20" N / 077° 29' 54" W - across the road from the church. (Waypoints marked with Magellan GPS 315 after end of selective availability, so accuracy is good).
Catoctin Trail Resources:
- Catoctin 50k Trail Run - The Catoctin 50k is an out-and-back on rocky, slow, difficult and demanding (but yet run-able) trail. There are a couple of favorable points to this challenging yet entertaining run: (1) Shade. The course is almost entirely covered with luscious tree foliage. (2) Streams. there are several stream crossings where you can twinkle your toes in cool "beer commercial" type of mountain water and cool down. If we don't have a lot of rain and it's a hot summer the streams will wither up and dry and will tease you with the thought of what they once were. Since this is an out and back on an established trail and has been permanently blazed with light blue blazes on a fair number of trees.
- Catoctin Blue - Mountain Bike guide - From the Gambrill Park parking lot follow the Blue Trail. At the intersection of trails go right and continue following the Blue Trail. Keep to the right and head up the mountain. This is a steep climb and it comes at you very fast. At about 1.5 miles you'll get to the top. At a Y, stay left and then make a quick right to stay on the Blue. At a dirt road go right then left off the road onto the trail again.
- Catoctin Trail - Mountain bike product and mountain bike trail reviews: MtbREVIEW.com: Four Sections: 1: Trailhead to Hamburg Rd. five miles: expert, severe rocks, severe ascent/decent, stream crossing. VERY challenging. 2: Hamburg Rd. to Delauter Rd. 2.5 miles, Intermediate, less severe but still rocky, lots of fun jumps and challenging ups and downs. 3. Delatuer to Tower Rd. AKA Fishing Creek, 2 miles, intermediate, stream crossing, getting easier 4. Tower to Mountaindale, 2 miles, Intermidiate, less rocks, scenic overlook .25 miles north of Mountaindale. You can pick up any of the stages at trailheads at each road crossing. I suggest you skip stage one until you work 2-4. Very pretty watershed area, few hikers/bikers, look out for hunters (stay on the trail). Very quiet and peaceful.