Liberty Reservoir is one of those amazingly peaceful places that I am more than happy to drive over an hour to visit. But I’ll be honest that it was originally 1623 Brewing that brought me to the Eldersburg area. When I’m on the hunt for a new Hikes & Hops, I actually start with a brewery and then find out what trails are nearby. Finding Liberty Reservoir was my lucky day since it has quickly become one of my favorite hiking spots in Maryland. Not to mention that 1623 Brewery is worth the drive in their own right! They have excellent beer and a HUGE space with lots of indoor and outdoor seating. They never disappoint. So let’s get to it!
THE HIKE: Liberty West-Morgan Runs Trail (Includes Coots Peninsula)
Length: 7.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 987ft
Time: ~3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, biking, dogs
Parking: Lot on side of busy road so be careful when parking
Liberty Reservoir is pretty big and there are no shortage of different trails you can take. My absolute favorite hike here is Coots Peninsula, so much that I hardly ever try anywhere else in the park! If you’re looking for a shorter hike than this, just the peninsula loop is about 4 miles and starts at the end of Bollinger Mill Road. J and I have been wanting to build up to longer hikes so we chose this extended loop that starts from a parking lot off of 32. Please be careful when pulling in and out of this space, there are some blind corners and it’s a major road.
Although many of these trails are listed as “heavily trafficked” in the AllTrails app, every time I’ve been here it’s felt so peaceful and I hardly ever see anyone else. The highlight of this area really is the reservoir with its sparkling clear waters. The Reservoir is owned by the city of Baltimore and brings water to nearly 1.5 million people in the city and surrounding suburbs. It wasn’t always a lake though and in 1954 the city made a LARGE purchase of the land. It had once been a thriving mill town and after all of the buildings were abandoned they were left intact and the reservoir just filled in around them. Kinda spooky to think of factories and houses just sitting under that pristine water!
Anyway, now the reservoir is perfect for hiking, especially since only paddle boats are allowed on the water, so you feel miles and miles away from civilization. Coots Peninsula is particularly beautiful as you are surrounded by water as you walk through the pine woods. The point at the end of the peninsula was really stunning with some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen! No swimming is allowed but we bent the rules and dipped our feet in. I’d call this trail moderate since the loop back had quite a few steep hills which I really enjoyed! If you go in the summer, make sure to bring plenty of bug spray! Even with it, at times the gnats and flies got pretty annoying. This has definitely been a favorite spot of ours and we’ve been back a few times!
THE BEER: 1623 Brewing Company
Address: 5975 Exchange Dr Suite H-L, Eldersburg, MD 21784
Distance from Trail Head: 4.3 miles, ~8 mins
Food?: Snacks and Food Trucks (Everyday)
H&H Rating: 5/5
1623 Brewing has been brewing since 2018 but only opened their brand new taproom in February 2020 right before all of the ‘rona shutdowns. But it never seemed like it held them back because their brand new facility was AH-Mazing! We were so impressed with the amount of seating available and the living room vibes. We settled in on their patio under a pergola which was so inviting and kept the sun from frying us. Although they don’t have a kitchen, they do have food trucks every day that they’re open. Score! But the most important thing: how was the beer?!
We were really excited to finally get some 1623 on tap, having had cans of their Dry Irish Stout in the past (Go get it, it’s delicious). Everything we had on tap was great! I didn’t get it this time around, but my favorite 1623 beer is their Hefeweizen. It’s the brewer’s specialty and really it shows. It’s quite honestly the best hefe I’ve had on draft! This time around I wanted to have a sour since it was hot and muggy out. Dang, this was the sourest sour I have ever had! Still delicious though with a subtle passionfruit flavor. J opted for the Ella Mental Lager which was part of a series of Single Hop Single Malt lagers. I’m always really into SMaSH series because I love to learn more about beer ingredients and to single out flavors. This one was made with Australian Galaxy hops and was quite refreshing. They also made a version conditioned on spruce tips that my nature heart desperately wanted, but I know I don’t like sprucy beers so we passed on that one. Oh and we got a 6 pack of the pilsner to take home as a porch beer.
(Also I’ve been having a moment with pilsners? So underappreciated and yet it’s one of the harder styles to make! Yup, I’ve already got plans for a pilsner appreciation post for one of my beer bytes soon!)
Another thing I really appreciate about this brewery is all of their glassware. No basic pint glasses here! They’ve got all of the proper glassware for the style of beer! Ah, it’s the little things.
- Tart Attack – Sour – 3.1%
- Ella Mental – Lager – 6.4%
- Pilsner – Pilsner – 5.2%
SUM UP: Liberty Reservoir has a variety of trails and the Coots Peninsula Loop is particularly beautiful and is of moderate difficulty. There is ample off-street parking at the trailhead. While the water views are beautiful, be prepared for mud and bugs. Nearby is 1623 Brewing Company which always has rotating food trucks and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a perfect combo!