Cat Rock Circuit
Description: This loop can be done as a 7.4, 8.6 or 11.0 mile moderate circuit hike. There is a 850 ft elevation gain over 1.5 miles. The rest of the trek is either flat or downhill with a few short rolling hills to break up the monotony. Some sections of the Catoctin Trail are pretty rocky, especially the downhill sections. It includes hiking along Hunting Creek on an unofficial fisherman’s trail, fantastic views from Cat Rock and Bob's Hill and the ever popular
SP/Catoctin NP is a very popular venue for many Marylanders seeking
some time in the great outdoors. Most hiking is done on the Catoctin
side of the mountain with great views from several vistas. On the
Start the hike at the Catoctin National Park Visitor's Center.
Trail Notes: There are
some important things to remember about this venue. First, Catoctin
NP uses no blazes on the trails. There are sign posts at all trail
Begin a steep climb up yellow blazed Cat Rock/Bob’s Hill Tr. At about 0.93 miles pass the junction of orange blazed Old Misery Trail on the right. Soon pass through a power line swath. In 0.35 more miles reach the spur trail to the left that takes you to Cat Rock. This is a great break spot. Be prepared to scramble up some rocks before taking in the view. In the summer watch where you place your hands and feet. Both Rattlesnakes and Copper Heads can be found amongst the rocks.
Return to the main trail and turn left. As you climb to the top of the ridge look to your right for a view of Chimney Rocks to the north-east. The best chance of a full view is in thewinter. At about 1mile from the Cat Rock spur trail there is a short-cut that comes in sharply from the right. I believe it to be an old intersection of Catoctin Trail and Cat Rock/Bob's Hill Trail. There is a short log and two very old sign posts blocking the trail. It is further marked by a small cairn at the base of a tree. If you want to do the 7.4 mile version turn right here. In a few hundred yards you will join the blue blazed Catoctin Tr. Pick up the directions later in these notes to complete the hike.
To do a longer version of the trek continue on Cat Rock/Bob’s Hill Trail. At 1.50 miles from Cat Rock or 0.57 miles from the short-cut arrive at the junction of blue blazed Catoctin Trail. If you want more views turn left and hike 1.2 mile to Bob’s Hill. This section of trail is blazed with blue rectangles and yellow triangles. The spur to the left is short and takes you to a partially overgrown view to the west and north. The right spur is longer and gives wide open views to the east as well as south. If you opt not to visit Bob’s Hill turn right at the Bob’s Hill Tr/Catoctin Tr junction and follow the rest of the directions. This shortens the hike by 1.4 miles (8.6 miles).
If you visit Bob’s Hill return to the last trail junction and continue up the blue blazed Catoctin Trail. Initially this is an old woods road. Ina short distance the trail makes a right turn onto a rather sketchy footpath. (If you miss this turn-off and continue down the woods road you’ll arrive at a grassy field with a barn in the middle of it. If you come to this point retrace your steps and look for the correct turn-off.) Initially the footpath traverses a rock scree. The way is well blazed though. The trail condition soon improves. At about 0.57 miles from the last trail junction Catoctin Trail will make a hard left onto another woods road. At this point look to the right. Note some logs blocking the old road. This is the other end of the short-cut described earlier.( If you are doing the shortest version of the hike your options at the end of the short-cut is to either turn left or go straight on blue blazed Catoctin Tr. Go straight.) Make the left following the woods road. It will soon peter out. The trail resumes on a footpath to the right. As it descends through a couple of long switchbacks you’ll walk on some pretty rocky trail.
At 1.24 miles from the
last trail junction arrive at and cross
In another 0.48 miles
the yellow blazed
Follow the gravel trail out to MD77. Cross it, turn left for a short distance and then right into the woods again. Follow this trail a short distance to the Falls Nature Trail on the right and follow it back to the cars (1.14 miles). The Falls Nature Trail is in Catoctin NP.
Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files
GPS Text File For Non-TOPO! Users
Printable/Downloadable Directions/Trail Notes
Critique this outing! ________________________________________
Name: Keith Robertson
Hike: Cat Rock Circuit
Name: Steven Powers
Hike: Cat Rock Circuit
Name: Greg and Sarah
Name: Dean Simmons Hike: Cat Rock Circuit
Date: 02/25/06 Ranking: 4
Critique: I led a Northern Virginia Hiking Club outing over this route and got rave reviews from all participants. I had planned the standard Catoctin Route coupled with an ascent of Cat Rock, returning via the Old Misery Trail. However, several hikers pushed for the Cunningham Falls option when I told them that I had an alternate routing in case parts of Catoctin were closed by the President's being at Camp David. He wasn't there this weekend, but my hikers argued, correctly, that lots of hikes go around Catoctin, but few ever go through the State Park and they were in the mood for a change of scenery. So, we proceeded along the Cunningham Falls State Park route laid out here. The weather was delightful for a change. The trails were all in good shape with no ice or snow and hardly any muck or mire. The views from Cat Rock and the two Bob's Hill overlooks were excellent. The Falls were awesome with significant ice along the edges although the creek was ice free for the tricky below-falls ford necessitated by the southern approach taken by this route. We started at 9:30 and were done before 2:30. A great hike!
Miller Hike: Cat
Rock/Bobs Hill/Cunningham Falls