I didn’t know for sure when I left the house with Sidekick Pauli where I was going to go. I just knew I was headed to the mountains. Turns out my car followed the well worn road to Catoctin Mountain Park. This is definitely my goto place to find solace. It never disappoints.
We started our hike at park headquarters. There was only one other car in the lot…yes! We would have the park to ourselves for a while. Such a treat on a Saturday morning.
I had chosen to do the 8 mile loop in the opposite direction of my usual routine traverse. We headed down the trail to the visitor’s center. I questioned my decision but my mind wandered off somewhere between the first rolling hill and the bridge…so apparently I wasn’t worried about it too much. 🙂
The visitor center was passed without too much fanfare and we entered the woods to make our way to the falls. Getting to the falls is probably the most dangerous part of the hike as we had to make our way across Rt. 77. The traffic was amazing…and fast. Where did it come from!!! I guess the rest of the world was finally waking up.
We made the crossing and walked down the boardwalk to the falls, which were pretty underwhelming on this hot August morning. We stayed long enough to get a drink of water, then headed back across Rt.77 and up, up, up to Hog Rock. From there we crossed Park Central Road, sat at a picnic table and had lunch.
It was nice to take a break and just enjoy being outside in the woods for awhile. I have a lot of trouble stopping for breaks when I am hiking by myself. But it is so enjoyable! We sat and listened to the wind through the trees, the birds, the crunch of leaves as chimpmunks and squirrels scurried in the forest. It was utterly delightful. And then when enough was enough we continued on to Thurmont Vista. I thought we might stop again at the vista, but there were other people there so we continued on until the trail split. We sat and had a drink and snack before moving on.
We finished out the hike by visiting Chimney Rocks, then looping back down to headquarters. and yes, as soon as I hit the flat part I fell. Good Lord, you would think I could get in at least one hike without falling down. jeesh!
Would I do this hike in this direction again? Probably not. What I found was the downhill from Chimney Rocks is much, much steeper than the uphill from headquarters! 😉 My feet were pounding in pain after that downhill!!
But I encourage everyone to come out and hike at Catoctin. It is a wonderful place to restore the soul.