It’s finally fall in Maryland! We’re seeing a very gradual foliage season in my area, so we decided to head northeast in search of color. One of my favorite areas of Maryland is Frederick County. There are so many great places to hike and the breweries are nothing to sneeze at either! For this combo, we went to Gambrill State Park to walk along the Yellow Trail. True to its name, we saw plenty of yellow hues in the trees! It still seemed to be a week or two away from peak colors though. The crisp fall air was still delightful and we warmed up afterward at Midnight Run Brewery in Frederick, whose boozy beers warmed us right up!
THE HIKE: Gambrill State Park Loop
Length: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 686ft
Time: 2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Biking, leashed pets
Parking: Limited parking at trailhead. $3 per vehicle for MD plates, $5 for out of state
H&H Rating: 3/5
Gambrill State Park is a popular hiking area just outside of Frederick, Maryland. We wanted to do the Gambrills Park Loop on Alltrails so we parked at the Lower Lot area off of Gambrill Park Road. This lot can fill up but we learned that there are a few other parking lots along the way that you can use without adding any mileage. You’d just start your loop at a different point! Also be sure to have cash; you just put your fee in an envelope and place it in the mail slot. Or might I suggest the yearly state park pass? It’s only $75 and absolutely worth it if you hike a lot like us.
For the most part, we followed the yellow blazed trip for this entire loop. For the first mile or so it runs along the main park road so that wasn’t my favorite. It was hard to enjoy nature with cars whizzing beside you! Thankfully, the trail eventually led deeper into the woods and we were able to relax. While this trail might not have the vistas that its neighbors Catoctin or Cunningham Falls offer, it was still a lovely walk through the woods. It was a peaceful trail with little foot traffic. Although it was popular with mountain bikers so stay alert as they can sometimes be going pretty fast.
This was a great trail for mushroom hunting. We saw several different varieties and lots of fungi and lichen on the large rocks along the trail. J particularly loves mushrooms, although he wasn’t a fan of some gross slimy ones we found! Overall, we had a nice time on the trail but I didn’t think it was worth our long drive. It definitely seemed like more of a local’s trail. If I was making the trip out to Frederick, I would choose something with more views.
THE BEER: Midnight Run Brewing
Address: 912 N East St, Frederick, MD 21701
Distance from Trail Head: 8.8 miles, 16 mins
H&H Rating: 4/5
We’ve been to Frederick a million times but somehow we had never been to Midnight Run! They’re in a small strip mall just on the outskirts of the historic area and very close to Rockwell Brewery (another fav of ours). Although there are so many breweries in Frederick, Midnight Run sets themselves apart by creating beers that really pack a punch. We’re talking barrel-aged stouts, double IPAs, and Belgian Strong Ales. This is a place for high ABV lovers! Thankfully, we packed a DIY charcuterie board (thanks Aldi!) so we were ready to sample. Since the ABVs are so high, Midnight Run offers 8oz, 12oz, and 16oz pours. We stuck with 8oz pours so we could taste a bunch of beers without needing an uber home! Our favorite of the day was the One Bad Mutha, a bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine which made me want to sit in front of a roaring fire at a rustic lodge. Honorable mention goes to the Missionary brown ale, which was deliciously malty. These were exactly the fall beers my heart wanted! I only wish that the ABVs were a little easier to handle since we had over an hour drive home. But I gotta give it to them for finding their niche; it’s hard to stand out in a small town with 10 breweries! Those Frederickians don’t know how lucky they are!
- Double Darkness – Imperial Stout – 10%
- One Bad Mutha – Barleywine – 10.8%
- Missionary – Brown Ale – 7.5%
- Cyber-Tech Dialect – Double IPA- 7.9%
SUM UP: Gambrills State Park is located in Frederick County, minutes away from historic downtown Frederick. It’s a quiet park on the Catoctin Mountain Ridge, although it doesn’t have quite as many grand vistas as the other parks. The yellow trail is a popular trail for hiking and biking but there are several parking lots along the route. Make sure to pay the per car fee which helps to maintain this park for everyone! Our route was about 5 miles long with only a few elevation changes. The crisp fall air coupled with the just-changing leaves made for a lovely afternoon hike. Afterwards, we visited Midnight Run Brewing in Frederick. They specialize in unapologetically boozy beers with unique flavors. Make sure to bring some snacks ‘cause you won’t want to stop sampling these potent brews!