“A trail less traveled with a great view!
— Mike Stone
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views
The parking area for this trail is across from the Catoctin Mountain Park Headquarters on Route 77. Note that the Park HQ is not the same building or location as the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center. The visitor center is one mile away from the HQ on Route 77.
The trailhead is well marked and is easy locate with a sign for Cat Rock and Overlook (1.25 miles). It is a yellow-blazed trail, and although blazes are present on the trail, sometimes they are faded and not well maintained. The trail is wide enough for 2 people to run side by side, and the trail initially parallels Route 77 as it ascends away from the parking area. About .4 miles into the run, you'll pass a huge uprooted tree, and as the trail continues up, you'll cross multiple water bars. At .8 miles into the trail, you'll cross a ravine/gully. After a strong storm it will be flowing; however, this is not a reliable water source.
As the trail continues uphill, it will cross under a large set of power lines. Shortly after crossing the power lines, approximately 1 mile into the run, the trail turns left along the edge of the mountain, continuing upwards on the mountain top/ridge. Once on the ridge, the trail flattens out, and at 1.1 miles into the run, the trail intersects with with Cat Rock Overlook Spur
. The Cat Rock Trail continues to the right towards Bob Hill. This intersection is well marked. Continue straight to scramble up onto Cat Rock with a great view of the mountains.
Getting on top of Cat Rock requires some scrambling and mindful placement of hands a feet. Be careful as there are plenty of opportunities for falls, injuries, and rolled ankles. This view is wonderful and since the trail is significantly less traveled then the Wolf Rock / Chimney Rock Trail
there is good chance you'll have the rock to yourself while you are there.
After you are done enjoying the view, backtrack to the Cat Rock Trail and follow the signage to the right towards Bob Hill. The trail will turn to the right and go uphill for a bit with a few switchbacks before eventually leveling out along the ridge. This section of the trail is not well blazed, but the trail is well traveled so you should be able to stay on the trail. The yellow blazes do pick up again just keep an eye out for them. The Cat Rock Trail terminates at the Catoctin National Scenic Trail
. There is a 4x4 sign marker, and it is well placed. At this point, you can either begin your return trip to the trailhead or continue your adventure on the Catoctin National Scenic Trail
Flora & Fauna
The Catoctin Forest is classified as a mid-latitude deciduous forest. In general, the forest is an oak-hickory-tulip poplar forest. Tree species such as chestnut oak, table mountain pine and pitch pine can be found on the drier ridge tops. On lower slopes and ravines, where soil is richer, white oak, tulip poplar, red maple, black birch, American beech, sour gum, and eastern hemlock can be found. For more information, visit the park's website