The weather was dry and sunny and I had new shoes again as we tackled Cat Rock, Chimney Rock, Wolf Rock, and Thurmont Vista Loop.
We left the West Friendship Park and Ride at 70 and 32 at 8:35am and arrived at the trail at 9:30am after a pit spot at a very nice Wegmans en route (really, there’s no such thing as a mediocre Wegmans). There was plenty of parking. We finished around 1:15pm, and there were still parking spaces in the upper lot where we parked, but the visitor center and along the side of route 15 outside the visitor center were all parked up.
Max elevation: 1545 ft
Min elevation: 814 ft
Total climbing: 2136 ft
Total descent: -2136 ft
Average speed: 2.65 mi/h
Total time: 03:40:18
You drive past the visitor center on the way to the trail. The visitor center has indoor plumbing, so this is the ideal spot for your pre-hike pee.
The trailhead parking lot is well-shaded when the leaves are out. The trail is mostly well shaded with a few brief sunny spots.
Going counter-clockwise, you’ll walk by the visitor center within the first two miles, another opportunity for indoor bathrooms or a portapotty. The foliage is generally too sparse for peeing on the trail, except on the approach to Cat Rock.
The trail surface is mostly quite rocky interspersed with some soft stretches of dirt.
The easiest way up and down the Cat Rock talus field (see Dar climbing it in 2018) is in the area of the elevation sign, not on the immediate approach. It’s still a boulder scramble, but much more straightforward and less likely to blow out a knee tendon.
Cat Rock looks like it’s going to have a vista, but when you get to the the top and look over, it’s just another talus field descending.
Chimney Rock, which has the best vista, was very crowded on a summer Saturday. A group of selfiers was holding it hostage. We skipped Wolf Rock with the expectation that it would also be crowded (and we’ve hopped around over its fissures and struck yoga poses before. Thurmont Overlook was lame.
|Elevation Gain||1660 feet|
|Moving Time||3 hours, 28 minutes|
|Total Time||3 hours, 40 minutes|
|Average Pace||28 minutes per mile / 2.2 mph|
|Water Consumed||0.9 liters|
|Food Before||oatmeal with berries|
|Food During||2 savory seed bars, 1 veggie muffin|
|Temperature Range||62 to 73°F|
|Pack||CamelBak Blowfish hydration pack|
|Navigation||iPhone 11 with AllTrails Pro|
|Shoes||La Sportiva Bushido II trail running shoes|
|Clothes||Socks: Wigwam Ironman Triathlon running socks|
Bottom: quick dry running shorts
Shirt: short sleeve wicking tee
Shirt: long sleeve wicking tee
See my current gear, clothing, and thoughts about it on the Hiking Gear page.