Those who love the thrill of an intense hiking adventure will adore the Catoctin National Recreation Trail in Frederick, Maryland. This 26.6-mile trail runs along the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and this point-to-point trail can be conquered in either direction. If Sparky also enjoys hiking, you're welcome to bring them along, but be sure to keep your pet on a leash no longer than six feet throughout your journey.
Some parts of the Catoctin Trail were built in the 1930s and then later refurbished and finished in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2011, the trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail, of which there are about 1,150 in the United States. The Catoctin Trail runs through a handful of state parks, and it hosts millions of visitors each year.
Most hikers begin their trek at the south trailhead, which is in Gambrill State Park (GSP). Follow the blue blazes to stay on the Catoctin Trail, as there are other trails within the park. The trail continues through GSP for the next three miles before it enters the Frederick Municipal Forest. Before long, you'll reach the lowest elevation of 600 feet on the hike in Cunningham Falls State Park (CFSP) and the Catoctin Hollow. From here, you'll begin the climb to the highest elevation of the hike once you're atop Bob's Hill at 1,760 feet. Once you've hiked through CFSP for about eight miles, you'll come to Catoctin Mountain Park. A four-mile hike through Catoctin Mountain Park (CMP) will take you to the trail's northern terminus at Mt. Zion Road.
Many hikers choose to divide their trek into a two-day trip and camp along the way. If you'd like to camp, you can do so at Rock Run Campground, Gambrill State Park, the Manor and Houck Campgrounds, Cunningham Falls State Park, or Owens Creek Campground in CMP.
Be sure to pack lots of water for you and your dog, and always clean up after your pet along this stunning trail!