Monday, July 27, 2015

Maryland - Cunningham Falls State Park - Bobs Hill Overlook

State Park Website: Cunningham Falls State Park

My wife and I hiked this trail on Sunday July 26th, 2015.  This is not a beginner trail.  I would recommend an easier trail if you're not familiar with hiking up mountains.  The trail goes up hill all the way to Bob's Hill Overlook.  The last part of the trail is the steepest (right around the time you think your legs are going to fall off).  If you've hiked a lot of trails, this one is similar in difficulty to Maryland Heights or maybe a bit more difficult than Chimney rock.  It's a 1.5 mile hike one-way and a 1,000 foot increase in elevation.

How to Get There

Bob's Hill Overlook can be accessed from several different trails.  The shortest trail is located at one of the entrances of Cunningham Falls State park.  This entrance can be accessed from highway 15, just south of Thurmont.  The exit is to the west, the opposite side of 15 from the Catoctin Furnace.  As soon as you pass the park entrance you'll see a parking lot on the left.  The trail is on the right side of the road.

The Hike

The trail is wide enough for a 4 wheeler but mostly rocky.  Here's what the entrance looks like:

Close up of the sign:

The trail starts out on an incline that wears you out fast:

Be sure and bring plenty water and maybe an energy bar.  There are actually two trails that merge together early on.  The blue trail and orange trail (which is the color of the trail that we started at) merge to form the blue/orange trail.  Though all the blazes are blue.

Parts of the trail get steeper.

You might notice logs across the trail. Most mountain trails in this area have these.  They're angled to force drainage away from the trail.  Sometimes the logs form steps on very steep climbs.

This area looks flat, but it's not!

I mentioned the rocks right?

The view on this trail is nice:

Right around this bend is where it gets ugly.

Yes, this is like a long stair case:

 That seems to never end:

Don't be fooled by this picture, this wasn't my first break.  It was the first spot on the trail with a nice seat:

After the next bend, there's more uphill:

 At the top of this is the marker:

There are two overlooks.  One facing North and one facing South.  So we took the short one first (to the North):

The narrow passage is short and dead-ends at a giant pile of boulders.

Unlike cat rock this pile of boulders are not very high so you can see over them.  There is also a small path on top of the boulders that you can walk on to get an excellent view:

Michelle is standing on the ridge behind the boulders:

The drop-off from these boulders is a long way down, so don't take any chances.  Stay away from the edge.

Now it's time to go back to the post and go the other direction (to the South):

This trail is a bit longer than the South trail, but it's not much of a hike and it's pretty flat:

This side comes out to an opening in the forest and you can see over the trees:

There is a tiny trail that goes off to the right and it leads to a rock outcropping.  Don't miss this view:

If you decide to go further, the trail is flat and even, all the way to a fork in the path between a connector to cat rock and the trail down to Cunningham falls.

This trail gets a big rugged, but it's fun to hike:

Eventually, you'll come to the fork:

Go straight to go to Cunningham falls, and right to go to Cat rock.  We walked a short distance down the Cunningham falls trail just to see what it was like.  It's less traveled than Bob's overlook:

It's still well marked with blue blazes:

When we reached our 3 mile mark we turned around.  The fork to Cat rock is still at least another mile (called the Catoctin-cat rock connector).

Here's a snap-shot of part of the Cunningham Falls state park map showing the trail that was hiked:

Our journey started at the "P" in the lower right corner and we followed the orange trail into the blue/orange trail.  Then we stopped at bob's hill overlook (North and South).  Then we continued on the blue/orange trail until we met with the catoctin-cat rock connector.  Then we followed the blue trail for about 2 tenths of a mile before it began to go down the hill.