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Hiking & Walking Tours Around The South Mountain – So Many Options! Two fabulous weeks of my favorite hiking…

By Monica E Oss, Editor, Discover South Mountain

The South Mountain is paradise for hikers. I love to spend my days with my dogs in tow, taking in the great outdoors. I’ve arranged these in driving trip order – but start anywhere and spend your days enjoying South Mountain outdoors! And, there is something for everyone – a short casual stroll to vertical climbing for a view.

Hike #1

Hike from the Gettysburg Square around the Lutheran Seminary Ridge Walking Trail (Square up Chambersburg Street and straight on Spring Avenue to the Seminary).

Hike #2

Hike the Gettysburg National Military Park:

  • Hike Seminary Ridge from Macmillan Wood to Warfield Ridge
  • Hike up Big Roundtop and on the wooded trails to Plum Run (park at Little Roundtop)
  • Hike from Soldier’s National Cemetery (parking lot is there) to Little Roundtop
  • Hike across Pickett’s Charge to Cemetery Ridge (park at the Virginia Memorial)

Hike #3

Walk the Gettysburg National Cemetery – Start at the Gettysburg Square, up Baltimore Street to the cemetery.

Hike #4

Hike from Gettysburg College to the Gettysburg National Military Park’s Peace Light and around the first day of the battle (park at Gettysburg College).

Hike #5

Take the Gettysburg College Civil War self-guided walking tour.

Hike #6

Hike the trails of the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve – very remote and beautiful mountain land.

Hike #7

Hike Shaffer Rock Trail. A beautiful but difficult trail along the Appalachian Trail, in Michaux State Forest.

Hike #8

Hike in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners 17324, – a beautiful forest area — my favorite is the very easy and relaxing lake-to-lake hike along the creek (park on Railroad Bed Road past the dam on Laurel Lake and walk to Fuller Lake); there are also many other hiking trails including 10 miles on the Appalachian Trail. While you’re there, visit the Appalachian Trail museum.

Hike #9

Hike Pole Steeple Trail, Less than 2 miles, easy, and beautiful – A great view at sunset.

Hike #10

Hike the Appalachian Trail flats – park on the trail head on Shippensburg Road, the first couple miles are beautiful and easy.

Hike #11

Hike the trails at Michaux State Forest, beautiful but rugged hiking trails (16 miles of the Appalachian Trail is in Michaux). Check out the Flat Rock Trails, and the Rocky Knob Trail. Note: I learned to avoid Rocky Knob in July and August because of rattle snakes.

Hike #12

Hike the Appalachian Trail from Shippensburg Road to Caledonia State Park. It’s moderate difficulty, 11 miles long.

Hike #13

Hike Chimney Rocks via Hermitage and Appalachian National Scenic Trail – a moderately-difficult 4.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. Beautiful wild flowers.

Hike #14

Hike Codorus State Park and its 19 miles of trails.

  • Mary Ann Furnace Trail, 3.5 miles of more difficult hiking
  • LaHo Trail, 1.5 miles, easiest hiking, The wetlands make this an excellent area for birding year round. On a grassy knoll in the eastern part of the trail is Wildasin Cemetery, which has a tombstone dated 1722.

Hike #15

Hike Cunningham Falls State Park. Beautiful and many trails depending on your mood.

William Houck Area Trails at Cunningham Falls State Park:

  • Lower Trail – ½ mile (red blaze) – This easy to moderate trail is the shortest and easiest access to the Falls. Interpretive signs and benches along the way. Return to the lake by this trail or Cliff Trail. This trail terminates at the Falls. Convenient parking in the Day-Use Area, overflow in South Beach and North Beach lots.
  • Cliff Trail – ¾ mile (yellow blaze) – Rough terrain offers strenuous hiking past rock outcrops that lead to the falls. Return to the lake by this trail or Lower Trail. Convenient parking in the Day-Use Area, overflow in South Beach and North Beach lots.
  • Campground Trail – ¾ mile (orange blaze) – This strenuous trail gives campers access to the Cliff Trail. Access at entrance to Bear Branch Loop.
  • Old Misery Trail – 2 miles (orange blaze) – This steep, strenuous trail with many switchbacks and scenic views connects with the Cat Rock Trail. Accessible via the Dam Overlook parking lot off of Catoctin Hollow Road.
  • Cat Rock Trail – 1.5 miles (yellow blaze) – This steep, strenuous trail leads to Cat Rock (elevation 1560’) and scenic views. Convenient parking located at Peniel Lot off of Route 77.

Manor Area Trails at Cunningham Falls State Park:

  • Catoctin Furnace Trail – ¼ mile (no blaze) – A self-guided trail which leads to Catoctin Furnace Historical Village. Crosses U.S. 15 via elevated foot path (46 steps up the stairway). Access via lower day-use area in Manor Area.
  • African American Cemetery Trail – ½ mile (no blaze) – Use the wayside interpretive panels to learn about the iron making process. More importantly, learn the names and stories of those enslaved to work in the village. This ADA-style unpaved path has two viewing platforms and three wooden benches. Parking is recommended at the Catoctin Furnace or the Manor Area of Cunningham Falls State Park.
  • Bob’s Hill Trail – 1.5 miles (yellow blaze) – This steep, strenuous trail leads to Bob’s Hill (elevation 1765’) and two short spur trails with views North and South. Convenient parking in Manor Area day-use.
  • Cat Rock / Bob’s Hill Hike – 7.5 miles one way (yellow blaze) – This strenuous trail crosses the mountain and passes two scenic rock outcrops with scenic views. Convenient parking in Manor Area day- use or in Peniel Lot off of Route 77.
  • Catoctin Trail – 27 miles (blue blaze) – This strenuous trail leads from Gambrill State Park through Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park. Nine miles of trail are in Cunningham Falls. Camping permitted only in designated campgrounds. Notify the park in advance if leaving vehicle in park overnight.

Hike #16

Hike Cunningham Falls Nature Trail is a 5.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Thurmont, Maryland that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Hike #17

Hike Sugarloaf Mountain and Northern Peaks Trail, a 6.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Dickerson, Maryland that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Hike #18

Take the Frederick self-guided walking tour, 2.5 miles.

Hike #19

Take the historian-guided walking tours of Frederick from the local historical society.

Hike #20

Hike the Thomas Farm Loop Trail in the Monocacy National Battlefield. The park includes some seven loops, ranging from “easy” to “moderate” and up to 2 miles in length. Along the way, you’ll see some interpretive waysides to help explain the history of this spot.

Hike #21

Hike the Sensory Trail at Catoctin Creek Park & Nature Center. Hike along the well-marked trails and creek to spot migratory bird habitats, the ruins of Colonial-era dwellings, and the lush forest for which Maryland is known. Many of the trails are ADA-accessible.

Hike #22

Hike the Annapolis Rock & Black Rock Cliff Trailhead. While parts of the trail are somewhat strenuous, those who persevere will be rewarded by stunning vistas from both Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff. Be forewarned, though: As a part of the Appalachian Trail, this trailhead is hardly a secret. Plan on coming early or at off-peak hours, or be prepared to share the road with other eager hikers.

Hike #23

Hike Gambrill State Park. Straddling the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains, Gambrill is a jewel of a park, boasting no fewer than 16 miles of mixed-use trails.

  • White Oak (1 mile) – Easy – White blaze – This easy trail is open to hikers only (no mountain bikes), and is a good choice for families with small children.
  • Red Maple (1 mile) – Easy – Red blaze – Fairly easy to walk, this trail connects the campground with the rest of the park. One short section of the trail is somewhat steep.
  • Green Ash (2 miles) – Moderate – Green blaze – Visitors seeking an adventure love this trail. There are several steep slopes and very little level ground, making this trail a challenge.
  • Black Locust (3 miles) – Difficult – Black blaze – This trail truly showcases the beauty of Gambrill State Park, from its wooded slopes to the breathtaking views of both Frederick to the east and Middletown valley to the west. The trail passes through the High Knob scenic area, mixing several steep slopes with fairly level areas.
  • Yellow Poplar (7 miles) – Moderate – Yellow blaze – The longest of the Gambrill trails, this trail is only moderately difficult. Visitors who have several hours can hike up the mountain and out into the far reaches of the park. Enjoy the view from North Frederick Overlook as you continue north along a moderately sloped ridgeline walk.
  • Catoctin National Recreation Trail (28 miles) – Difficult – Blue blaze – This trail traverses Gambrill State Park, the Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain National Park. It ends at Mt. Zion Road, 1.3 miles north of Owens Creek Campground in Catoctin Mountain National Park. The Appalachian Trail may be reached by traveling west on Mt. Zion Road for two additional miles to Raven Rock Road. Backcountry camping on the Catoctin Trail is not permitted. Family camping is available at Gambrill State Park, Cunningham Falls State Park in the Manor and Houck Areas and Catoctin Mountain Park. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club maintains this trail.

Hike #24

Hike Antietam National Battlefield and experience the rural landscape of one of America’s best preserved battlefields by walking one of Antietam’s trails.

  • Antietam Remembered – 1/4 mile loop with paved walkway. This trail loops to significant landmarks and monuments near the visitor center, including the historic Dunker Church and the Maryland State Monument.
  • Bloody Lane Trail – 1.6 mile loop. This trail starts at the visitor center and winds through the historic Mumma and Roulette Farms, following in the footsteps of Union soldiers as they advanced toward the Sunken Road where you can explore the Confederate position in what has been known since the battle as Bloody Lane.
  • Cornfield Trail – 1.5 mile loop. This trail starts and ends at Auto Tour Stop 2 -The North Woods. The trail covers most of the area where the early morning action of battle took place. There were more casualties in and around the Cornfield than anywhere else on the battlefield.
  • Final Attack Trail – 1.7 mile loop. This trail starts at Auto Tour Stop 9. After capturing the Bridge, over 8,000 Union soldiers crossed Antietam Creek. They marched across the fields where the trail is located for the final advance to drive the Confederate Army from Maryland, only to be turned back by A.P. Hill’s final Confederate counterattack.
  • Sherrick Farm Trail – 1.3 mile one way. This trail starts at the intersection of the park tour road and State Rt. 34. It meanders through farm fields and woodlots typical of Antietam. The trail ends at the famous Burnside Bridge. The hike is hilly and please use extra caution crossing modern Burnside Bridge Road.
  • Snavely Ford Trail – 1.8 mile loop. This trail starts at Auto Tour Stop 9. The Snavely Ford Trail follows Antietam Creek for much of its length. The hike is mostly flat and shady except for one uphill climb at the end of the trail.
  • Three Farms Trail – 1.6 mile one way. This trail connects the north end trails to the south end trails (see map for reference). It also takes you to some of the quietest and most beautiful areas of the park. The trail connects to the Bloody Lane Trail in the north and the Sherrick Farm Trail in the south. For groups or others with more than one vehicle, a great option is to have one car at the visitor center and a second at the Burnside Bridge and walk from one end of the battlefield to the other.
  • Tidball Trail – .3 miles one way. Trail starts at the historic Newcomer House and takes you to one of the best overlooks on the battlefield and explores the area where the Union 5th Corps crossed the Middle Bridge over Antietam Creek.
  • Union Advance Trail – 1 mile loop. This trail starts at Auto Tour Stop 9. This trail crosses Burnside Bridge and makes a loop on the east side of Antietam Creek. The hike explores the area where the Confederates defended the Burnside Bridge, and then crosses over the creek to where the Union Ninth Corps made their advances to capture the bridge.

Hike #25

Hike Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (NHP) and its 22 miles of hiking trails. The park encompasses about 3,500 acres in the three states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Several units of the national park system intersect here:

Hike #26

Hike Codorus State Park in Hanover, Pennsylvania – 3,500 acres with 10 miles of hiking trails (very beautiful and relatively easy), – (our favorite) rent a canoe or pontoon on Lake Marburg for the day – and download the hiking maps.

Hike #27

Hike the 18 miles of trails at Gifford Pinchot State Forest, a wide range of trails from easy to difficult.

  • Alpine Trail, 0.5 mile, easiest hiking, This wide, flat trail has a gravel surface. Alpine Trail has an outstanding crop of wildflowers in April and May, with bluebells and marsh marigolds. The trail begins on the east side of Conewago Day Use Area.
  • Beaver Creek Trail, 1.5 miles, most difficult hiking, this trail runs between a small parking area off Squire Gratz Road and Mooring Area # 1 in the northwestern corner of the park. The trail meanders through low lying wooded terrain and can be muddy in wet weather. Sections of the trail can also be rocky.
  • Gravel Trail, 1.2 miles, easiest hiking, This trail runs through second growth forest from the campground to the area of the boat rental at the eastern end of the Conewago Day Use Area. This wide trail follows an old woods road and has a gravel surface.
  • Lakeside Trail, 8.5 miles, most difficult hiking, This is the longest and most scenic trail in the park. It may be accessed from all major use areas of the park. Walking time is five to six hours. Many parts of the trail are easy walking with gravel surfaces, but some of the remote sections are narrow with uneven footing and wet in other places.
  • Midland and Fern Trails, 0.5 mile, more difficult hiking, These small side trails off Lakeside Trail can be reached from near Boat Mooring Area #3. Both trails have dirt and rock surfaces and steeper slopes, but wind through the most mature forests in the park. There are many wildflowers under the large oak, hickory, and tulip popular trees.
  • Oak Trail, 0.4 mile, easiest hiking, This short trail connects the campground to the interpretive center at the western end of the Conewago Day Use Area. The trail is gently rolling and wide with a gravel surface. The trail passes through a maturing oak and hickory forest and past a large diabase rock outcropping near the interpretive center.
  • Old Farm Trail, 1 mile, easiest hiking, this trail runs along the northeastern border of the campground and is a connector between Lakeside, Oak, and Ridge trails. Old Farm Trail follows an old farm road to the top of Straight Hill
  • Pinchot Trail, 1.4 miles, most difficult hiking, Wear good shoes on this trail because the surface can be rocky in some places and wet in other places. The trail begins at the environemtal learning center and climbs past a large diabase rock outcropping that once formed the beginning of the long abandoned toboggan run. The trail then crosses Gravel Trail and eventually splits into two branches that connect along the top of Straight Hill to form a loop.
  • Quaker Race Trail, 1.7 miles, more difficult hiking, This trail is best accessed from the Quaker Race Day Use Area or from the cabin colony for cabin occupants. This trail has a dirt or rocky surface, uneven terrain and one steep but short hill. This trail connects to Lakeside Trail at its end to form a three-mile loop that passes through diverse habitats.
  • Ridge Trail, 1.2 miles, more difficult hiking, This trail begins near the campground entrance where it intersects Lakeside Trail, then meanders through old overgrown pasture, then climbs into a maturing oak and hickory forest along the top of Straight Hill. The trail surface is dirt and can be rocky and there are some wet areas near the campground entrance #6.

Hike #28

Hike the Fielding Bank Trail. 4.3-mile Fielding Bank Trail gives residents of Boiling Springs access to a couple nearby parks without having to travel along local roads The trail begins at High Street the west end of town and meanders northwest through farm fields, treating users to scenic views of the bucolic countryside with South Mountain on the southern horizon.