Help me hike Maryland
August 25, 2015 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I recently discovered that I really enjoy hiking. I live in Maryland, and would like to experience some good hikes in the state. Ideally hikes at a moderate level of intensity that could accommodate a group of five or six. These would be weekend hikes, and the less crowded the better.

One option that I've heard a lot of good things about is Billy Goat Trail, but I've also heard it gets packed on the weekends. What's appealing about this is:

- It's a good day hike that I could slot into a morning or afternoon.
- It's got a nice variety of terrain and good views.
- It's not too easy. I was in Glacier recently and took on both a strenuous and moderate hike as defined by a few guidebooks. I think I'd like the moderate side of that equation so as to accommodate a lot of skill and comfort levels, while still remaining challenging.

Those would also describe other preferable aspects of hikes I'd like to take.

Geographically anywhere in central Maryland is fine. Let's say up to 1.5 hours from Baltimore. I don't really want to drive out to the coast or to the western part of the state.

I'm aware of and hiking upward and I'm mostly looking for recommendations to help reduce those lists a little bit.
posted by codacorolla to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Have you been to Sugarloaf Mountain yet? You can vary the intensity pretty well by deciding which route to take up and around the mountain. It is pretty popular though.

Also there's a nice little winery at the bottom that's a great place to hang out post hike with some wine and cheese.
posted by Naberius at 9:06 AM on August 25, 2015

I've enjoyed Weaverton Cliffs!
posted by anotherthink at 11:08 AM on August 25, 2015

Catoctin Mountain State Park should definitely be on your list. This page is a good guide to the trails, and you can of course ask the park rangers. Plus you might have the added excitement of being confronted by heavily armed men if you wander off the trails.

It's also adjacent to Cunningham Falls State Park, which also has hiking, plus the lovely falls.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll second Catoctin Mtn/Cunningham Falls and add in Gambrill State Park and Frederick Municipal Forest which are in the same area. The trails aren't quite as nice, but I think they tend to be a little less crowded.
posted by parallellines at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want another way to get ideas without feeling like you have to sort through lists of every possible hike in the area, look for hiking groups for Baltimore and D.C. You can look through their histories and descriptions of places they've hiked. (Some of them require you to join the group before you can see their events, but joining is free and there's no obligation to participate just because you joined.) You'll get ideas really quickly about which trails/areas these groups go back to a lot, and you'll know that everything that gets listed there works well for groups. If you actually go out on hikes with any of the meetup groups (which I highly recommend!) you'll also get a chance to experience the trails firsthand before taking your own group out with you. But even if you aren't interested in going out with groups, just looking through their past and upcoming hikes will help give you a sense of which trails are most popular for groups, and there's usually a good description of how challenging the hikes are.
posted by jessypie at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2015

It's right on the edge of your distance limit, but Maryland Heights is a great hike. At the end you get a fabulous view of the Potomac and Harpers Ferry, which is also a fun place to explore if you're into Civil War history and/or weird quirky small towns.
posted by catoclock at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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