Cunningham Falls State Park & Olde Mother Brewing

Frederick, MD

The Holiday season always gets so busy!  Thankfully we were able to squeeze in this hike right before Christmas before taking some time off. And I can’t imagine a town that exudes holiday cheer more than Frederick! We always have to do some holiday shopping here because there are so many cute local shops. And not to mention the plethora of amazing breweries! For this hike, we trekked out to Cunningham Falls State Park which is only about 20 minutes north of Frederick. While some of the other trails in this area get pretty busy, the lesser trod Bob’s Hill was perfect for a quick hike before shopping. But don’t let the mileage fool you, this is no easy 4 mile nature walk. The straight up incline really kicked our butts! It was just what we needed before a season of eating, drinking, and good cheer!

THE HIKE: Bob’s Hill (Cunningham Falls State Park)

Length: 3.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,115ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking and leashed pets
Parking: Large parking lot at trailhead. $3 per vehicle for MD residents ($5 non-resident)
H&H: 4/5

Cunningham Falls is a beautiful state park in Frederick County about 20 minutes north of Frederick. It often gets overshadowed by the nearby Catoctin National Park, but it is definitely worth a visit especially if you want to avoid the crowds! This area is known for its rocky terrain and fantastic views of the valley. Other spots in the Cunningham Falls and Catoctin parks have fantastic overlooks and waterfalls, but Bob’s Hill is a delightfully unrated view. 

I really love hiking in the winter. As long as there is no dangerous ice or snow, I love how peaceful the woods are and how little signs of life still poke through the grays and browns. I was shocked by the lime green moss sprouting at the bases of trees and the bright flush of mushrooms along a downed tree. The forest is only resting in winter, not dead. 

I had to take a break halfway up! This incline is no joke!

This hike was a great challenge for us and the trail runners along the way really humbled me! The first mile or so of this trail is a strenuous incline so be prepared with plenty of water. The dampness of the day and the leaves made some rocky spots a little treacherous. Take your time and place your feet carefully. The summit of Bob’s Hill is split into two overlooks, the north and south. Definitely check out both as they give different views of the area. I slightly preferred the South overlook since it gave a further view of the valley. The north view had some fun rock scrambles but the trees are so tall that you can’t see out. 

This is an out and back trail so you’re mostly retracing your steps. However, near the end of the trail, we took a detour to follow the Catoctin Trail down to the creek. It was so beautiful here and I wished we had the energy to continue along the trail! Be prepared though, if you take this trail, you have to cross the creek and you almost certainly will get wet!

Overall, I really enjoyed this trail! I loved getting my heart pumping and being one of the only people on the trail. Plus, if you have some time, go to the other section of the park and check out the Falls. They really are spectacular!

THE BEER: Olde Mother Brewing

Address: 526 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701
Distance from Trail Head:  13 miles, 17 mins 
Food?: BYOF
H&H Rating: 4/5

Olde Mother had been one of my favorite breweries since I moved to Maryland. Whenever we visit Frederick, we almost always take a walk off the main drag to visit Olde Mother. They have a great tap room with cozy seats and a huge back space for events or overflow seating. The staff is always super friendly and ready to help you choose a beer. We were feeling pretty festive and had to try the Gingerbrute. I’ve been noticing Olde Mother making some sweeter beers and this was definitely one of them! I love ginger flavors but this was a bit sweet for me. Others sitting at the beer really loved it though! My favorite of the day was the No Magician Hats, a Cranberry Cinnamon Sour that just felt like Christmas Eve in my mouth. It really reminded me of one of my favorite Maryland beer of all times: A Feast of Fools, a collab with Hysteria and Olde Mother. If any of the brewers happen to be reading this, please make that beer again! I would buy an entire case of it! 

There are a lot of breweries to choose from in Frederick, but I am always drawn back to Olde Mother. They make consistently good beer in  a variety of styles. You can always find a good dark beer as well as a solid IPA, which is really what I want from a brewery. Plus, I love the small town vibe here, with the bartenders knowing most of the patrons. They didn’t have it this time, but if you can ever snag some Queen of Swords, I highly recommend it! It’s one of my favorite pale ales. 

Our Beer:

  • The Creeper – American IPA – 6%
  • Gingerbrute – Gingerbread Imperial Brown – 8.4%
  • Callisto – Oatmeal Stout – 6%
  • No Magician Hats – Cranberry Cinnamon Sour – 6%

SUM UP: Cunningham Falls is a state park in Frederick County located about 20 minutes north of Frederick. The Bob’s Hill trail is a moderately difficult out and back trail that is quite an incline up to a viewpoint of the valley. There is a large parking lot at the trailhead, but have cash ready to pay the entrance fee. Afterward, head into downtown Frederick and grab a brew at Olde Mother Brewing. They boast a solid lineup of beer with something for every taste. Feel free to bring snacks or a meal to enjoy with your beer! Afterward, be sure to wander into town and check out the local shops. If it’s during the holidays, check out the holiday boats along the canal.

Every year local businesses and organization build light up boats that are displayed on the canal in downtown Frederick

North Point State Park & Key Brewing Co.

Dundalk, MD

This past weekend, we made it out to Dundalk for the first time! I’ve been wanting to go to North Point State Park to see those amazing views out over the water. And since Maryland can be a wee bit unpleasant near water in the summer (the humidity and mosquitoes are no joke!), we opted to save this for a fall hike. That was a win for us because this park was absolutely beautiful in the crisp late fall weather. This is a great easy hike for those days when climbing a mountain just ain’t gonna happen. Enjoy the peaceful marshlands and relax in a bench by the water and when you’re ready, head over to Key Brewing Co. for a refreshing brew!

THE HIKE: North Point State Park Loop

Length: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 40 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets, biking on some trails
Parking: Large parking lot at trailhead. $3 per vehicle for MD residents ($5 non-resident) off season and weekdays; $4 per vehicle MD residents ($6 non-resident) for peak weekends
H&H: 3/5

Parts of the area that is now North Point State Park used to be an amusement park. The Bay Shore Amusement Park operated for about 40 years and was a popular trolley destination from Baltimore. After the area was bought out by a steel company, it was another 40 years before the land was recovered by the Department of Natural Resources and turned into a wildlife sanctuary. Parts of the old park still exist including the trolley station, a large pier, and a fountain. 

Trail through the wetlands

Because this park is right on the water, the trails are very flat and easily accessible. The first two miles of this hike is the most woodsy and was by far my favorite section. You start out on the Black Marsh trail which leads through the protected wetlands of the area. Please be aware that no bikes are allowed in this area! Throughout the wooded section, there are little educational signs about the wildlife in the area. We learned a lot about the birds of the area! Unfortunately, we didn’t see too many birds for ourselves. 

Moderately spooky abandoned building

After the marshlands, you pass by one of the old park structures. Some people were inside exploring but I don’t mess with creepy abandoned buildings! The trail then leads along the water, offering expansive views of the Chesapeake Bay. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought we were at the ocean! A really unique part of this park is the 1000ft Crystal Pier. It’s super impressive and we really liked walking all the way out to the end. Although it was way colder with no trees to block the wind! Aside from the pier, the latter half of the trail was not my favorite. Some of the path lead along the road and other parts were a mowed path through a field. I find grassy trails boring and difficult to walk on so I much preferred the marshland trail at the beginning. 

Overall, this was a great new park for us. We always love being in new areas and I will never stop being impressed by the Chesapeake Bay. If we went again, I think I would like to go on a warmer day and bring a picnic to have by the water. There are tons and tons of picnic tables so it seems quite popular! Also I believe that you can swim here in the summer? Don’t hold me to that though. Another perk of North Point State Park is it’s only 4 miles away from Key Brewing!

THE BEER: Key Brewing Co.

Address: 2500 Grays Rd, Dundalk, MD 21222
Distance from Trail Head: 4.5 miles, 9 mins
Food?: BYOF
H&H Rating: 4/5

Like many Maryland breweries, Key Brewing is located at the end of a long industrial park. They have a really large, comfortable taproom which offers no-fuss, quality beers. Key brewing is the only brewery in Dundalk and they’ve been a community staple since their opening in 2015. Their name is a tribute to Francis Scott Key, our famous anthem writer and Baltimore native. Key Brewing has a vibe I can get behind: straightforward quality. They want craft beer to be something anyone can enjoy, not something intimidating or elitist. We felt completely relaxed in their taproom full of people watching a football game and a group having a small family reunion. I loved that it felt like a local hangout. 

Key Brewing was definitely an IPA place, which is great because that’s often what I’m craving after a romp in the woods. For me, the winner of the day was definitely the double IPA, Dundalk Calling. It’s big on flavor and is dry hopped with Citra, which I think is pretty much my favorite hops? Like I’m no pro but every IPA that I really like seems to be made with Citra! J liked the Next Stop Rye Porter, which he thought had a really subtle rye flavor that didn’t overpower the classic porter taste. I’m so glad that we stopped by Key Brewing and I will definitely be keeping a look out for their beers in my local market! 

Our Beer:

  • Diamonds and Domes – West Coast IPA – 6.7%
  • Speed Wobbles – Session IPA – 4.6%
  • Next Stop Rye Porter – Porter – 5.5%
  • Dundalk Calling – Double IPA – 8%

SUM UP: North Point State Park is a former amusement park located in Baltimore County on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Now it is a wildlife sanctuary and greenspace offering hiking and biking trails, as well as fishing piers. A highlight is definitely the 1000 ft. Crystal Pier, jutting out into the Bay. Make sure to have cash to pay the park entrance fee! All of the trails are flat with little to no obstacles. Only 4 miles away is Key Brewing Co., Dundalk’s first and only craft brewery. Bring some snacks, enjoy good beer, and stay for the comfy atmosphere!

Washington Monument State Park (Via Appalachian Trail) & Homaide Brewing Co.

Boonsboro/ Williamsport, MD

It’s always a treat to make it out to western Maryland. Bit by bit, we’ve been tackling the sections of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. This hike was another small section that took us to Washington Monument State Park. It was the perfect hike to get our blood pumping on a chilly morning. Afterward, we warmed up with a couple (okay, a few) brews at Homaide Brewing Company. This was a great start to our winter hiking season!

THE HIKE: Appalachian Trail: Turner’s Gap to Washington Monument

Length: 4.4 miles (Out and Back)
Elevation Gain: 950 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: AT parking at the Old South Mountain Inn. If full, do hike in reverse and park at Monument
H&H: 5/5

The Appalachian Trail meanders 40 miles through Western Maryland. We’re not backpackers (yet) so we’ve been slowly working through small sections of the AT. Since this is a bit far for us to drive, we planned to stop for a hike along the way to our hometown for Thanksgiving. This section of the AT is only 2.2 miles (4.4 out and back) but it was the perfect way to start out a weekend of eating, eating, and maybe some more eating. There’s ample parking for AT hikers in the Old South Mountain Inn, especially when the restaurant isn’t open. Also this is very close to the Dahlgren backpackers campsite if you’d like to extend your hike! 

I rated this trail as moderate since there are some elevation changes with a few rocky spots. I really liked all of these features since they kept the hike interesting! We hardly encountered anyone on the trail this crisp morning and before we knew it, we were already at the Washington Monument! We had the overlook completely to ourselves. The view from the top of the monument was utterly spectacular. Something about the brisk morning made the colors of the sky really gleam. 

Okay so you’re probably wondering, isn’t the Washington Monument in DC? Well this is a different one! This monument was built by the people of Boonsboro in 1827, making it the first completed monument to GW. It was used as a signal tower by the Union in the Civil War too. After the war, it fell into disrepair and was eventually revitalized by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. Now it’s maintained by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is a popular hiking spot! 

We really liked this trail and if we hadn’t been on a time crunch we probably would have done a longer hike. You can also park at the lot off Route 40 (same as Annapolis Rock parking) and take the AT going south to the Monument for a ~6 mile hike. The options are endless!

THE BEER: Homaide Brewing Co

Address: 10212 Governor Lane Boulevard Suite #1012, Williamsport, MD 21795
Distance from Trail Head:  14 miles, 23 mins 
Food?: BYOF
H&H Rating: 3/5

It had been a while since we were kicking around near Hagerstown. So long that a new brewery had popped up in the same plaza as Cushwa Brewing (from our very first Hikes & Hops post). Driving home for Thanksgiving was the perfect chance to stop along the way for this brewery. We’re starting to hit our limits of what we can drive to in a day. This is some serious commitment to our brews! 

Homaide Brewing Company opened in 2020 and has established themselves as beer experimenters. I’ve never been to a brewery with such off the wall flavors! We seriously had to try everything. Don’t judge us, it was the day before a holiday. The beertender was fantastic, giving us a rundown of the flavors and offering us small tasters of everything. She really knew her stuff! While Homaide had a broad range of styles, I was really feeling their darker beers. Maybe it’s because we were just hiking in 25F or maybe because it was right before Thanksgiving, but I was really wanting some dark, cozy brews. My favorite was definitely the Down the Hatch Porter. Some of the other dark beers were a bit too barrel aged for me. I’m quite picky about my barrel-aged beers and I just can’t do rye flavors. So the French Toast and You’l be Smitten were out for me. Thankfully, the Down the Hatch rose to the occasion, giving me a nice bitter cacao flavor with the smooth, creamy taste. Also honorable mention goes to the Coattails. Will I ever get sick of Hazy IPAs? Maybe but this was not that day! Overall, J and I were impressed with the wide range of offerings at Homaide. If you’re looking for traditional beers, this might not be the place for you. But if you love trying new things, it’s worth the trek out to Williamsport.

Also shout out to Homaide for being one of the few breweries in Western Maryland to be open in the early afternoon on a Wednesday! Don’t these people realize we have hikes to plan around?!

Our Beer:

  • French Toast Nightman – Barrel- Aged Imperial Stout – 10%
  • You’ll be Smitten – Barrel-Aged Milk Stout – 6%
  • Down the Hatch – Porter – 7%
  • Browned Out – Brown Ale – 5.9%
  • The Chef – Smoothie Sour – 6.5%
  • Doggo – Lager – 4.7%
  • Honey Bunches of Beer – Cream Ale – 7.5%
  • Coattails – Hazy IPA – 7.9%

SUM UP: Washington Monument State Park is a great day hike along the Appalachian Trail. There’s ample parking at the Old South Mountain Inn and it’s a 4.4 out and back trail from there. The hike has some elevation changes and some rocky spots. Spend some time at the Washington Monument, taking in the incredible views. You can actually see four different states from up there! After your trek, drive up to Williamsport to check out Homaide Brewing Co, a new nanobrewery who specializes in bold, unique flavors. The staff is very friendly and eager to talk about their brews. Right now, check out some of the dark beers, tis the season!

Patuxent Wildlife Refuge & Jailbreak Brewing Company

Laurel, MD

When I first moved to Maryland, the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge was my favorite place to hike! It’s small but it’s such a great place to see wildlife. It’s always peacefully quiet and feels like you’re miles away from the hustle and bustle. There’s one main trail that follows along the lake which is very popular with fisherman and birdwatchers. This refuge is so serene and there’s even a nice visitor center with activities for the whole family. And when you’re done taking in the scenery, pop over to Jailbreak Brewing which offers refreshing brews and a full kitchen. This is the perfect afternoon hike & hop combo!

THE HIKE: Patuxent Wildlife Refuge – South Tract

Length: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 50 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 45 mins
Trail use: Hiking, running, leashed pets
Parking: Very large parking lot at the visitor’s center
H&H: 5/5

The Patuxent Wildlife Refuge is run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and has been open since 1936. It is maintained as a sanctuary for biodiversity and for researching wildlife. Thankfully, it’s also open to the public! There are three main areas. The North Tract is the newest section, previously a military testing site that was incorporated into the refuge in the early 90’s. The Central Tract is not open to the public due to the sensitive nature of research conducted here. In the South Tract area, there’s a large parking lot and visitor center with interpretive exhibits that will be popular with the whole family. Today’s hike is in the South Tract!

I really like this park because despite its short trails, it offers so many different landscapes. The main trail takes you through the woods and along Cash Lake. There’s a floating bridge that crosses the lake, giving you a close up of the sea of lily pads. This is also a great place to view some large birds of prey! We’ve even seen a bald eagle roosting on one of the birds nest stands. The trail is very flat so it’s a good spot for people of all abilities. There are some sections with raised tree roots so be careful! Along the path there are many benches to stop and take in the scenery.

THE BEER: Jailbreak Brewing Company

Address: 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel, MD 20708
Distance from Trail Head: 10 miles, 20 mins
Food?: Full Kitchen
H&H Rating: 5/5

Opening in 2014, Jailbreak Brewing Company was Howard County’s first production brewery! My partner and I used to live in Laurel and we were here all the time. Jailbreak has delicious brews that you can find all over the state. They feature a solid line of headliners and also have unique seasonal offerings. For this visit, we were excited to introduce the brewery to some of our family and friends. Needless to say, there was a lot of sampling going on! Jailbreak also offers a full bar menu as well as wine. We stuck to beer and were able to taste most of the menu. What are friends for right? My fav of the night was definitely the Hey, Porter! I also always like the headliner amber ale, The Infinite. 

One of my favorite things about Jailbreak is that they also have a full menu. And let me tell you, it’s really, really good! They have pizza, tacos, and sandwiches. I’ve tried a lot of the menu and there really hasn’t been anything I didn’t like. This time I had the fried chicken sandwich and it was pretty much life changing. 

Our Beer:

  • Last Chance to Throw Out Ideas for the Collab Beer Name – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 12.8%
  • Dry Hopped Saison – Saison – 6.2%
  • Logger: Pre-Prohibition Lager – Lager – 5.8%
  • Hey, Porter! – Porter – 7.4% 
  • The Infinite – Amber Ale – 5%

SUM UP: Long before Hikes & Hops was official, this was one of our original combos. The Patuxent Wildlife Refuge is small but mighty, offering beautiful views over Cash Lake and lots of opportunities to see wildlife. Doing the full loop around the lake will give you about a 2 mile stretch of the legs, with the opportunity to add on another mile through the woods if wanted. There’s ample parking here with a large visitor center. Afterward, head into Laurel to warm up with a brew and a bite at Jailbreak Brewing Company. They have a large variety of beers, as well as cocktails and wine. Jailbreak is everything you could want in a brewery!

Patapsco Valley State Park – Soapstone Trail & Heavy Seas Brewery

Halethorpe, MD

We never seem to get enough of Patapsco Valley! This state park is massive and there are so many different areas to explore. When we first started getting into hiking, a friend recommended the Soapstone Trail in PVSP and we went so much! This is a great trail for beginners or someone who just wants a quick hike. It’s got just enough incline to get your heart pumping but only takes about an hour to complete. And to make it even better, Heavy Seas Brewing is less than 5 miles away.

THE HIKE: Patapsco Valley State Park – Soapstone Trail

Trail Map:

Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 290 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  1-1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Biking
Parking: Large lot off road
H&H: 4/5

Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland’s second largest state park, running 32 miles along the Patapsco River. Its 16,000 acres span into Howard, Carroll, and Baltimore counties. The busiest area of the park, Avalon, is where you’ll find Cascade Falls, one of Maryland’s most popular hiking spots. Be aware though, due to its popularity, certain entrances at PVSP hit capacity and have to close. Plan accordingly if you want to visit here in the summer months! 

We always like the Soapstone trail because it doesn’t use the main entrance of the park and we’ve never had trouble parking. The trailhead is right off S. Rolling Hill Road where there is a very large gravel pull off area. This hike is very popular but even on the weekends we’ve always found a spot in this lot. Please note: if you decide to do this trail by starting at the park’s main entrance, there is an entry fee! 

This hike is an easy 3 miles. The first half is taking a meandering path down through the woods. Be sure to add on the Bull Run loop at the 1 mile marker. Then continue down to a joining of two streams. At this point there is a larger stream crossing to get to another parking lot where there are bathrooms. Then, you take the more direct path of the opposite side of the stream to go back up the ridge. This is where you’ll encounter a few steeper spots, but they are very doable. 

This is really a great trail for beginner hikers or anyone short on time. Just be aware that it is a popular trail with both hikers and mountain bikers so be prepared to share the road! And when you’re ready to kick back and relax, Heavy Seas is the perfect spot for you!

THE BEER: Heavy Seas Brewery

Address: 4615 Hollins Ferry Rd, Halethorpe, MD 21227
Distance from Trail Head:  3.5 miles, 7 mins 
Website: /
Food?: BYOF
H&H Rating: 4/5

Heavy Seas Brewing is one of the OG Maryland craft breweries. They’ve been around since 1995 and have been brewing their headliner Loose Cannon IPA since 2004 so they know what’s up. Heavy Seas is one of the largest craft breweries in Maryland, producing over 40,000 barrels of beer in 2020. Despite this huge production, their taproom in Halethorpe had a cozy, neighborhood feel. The main room had wooden tables with a large bar area. There also is a larger second seating area in the production facility with large yard games like jenga, connect 4, and corn hole. We sampled a flight in the taproom and my favorite was definitely the Great’er Pumpkin. It was delicious but really packs a punch! It was just what I needed after a crisp morning in the woods. J’s favorite of the day was the Dark Anchor Porter which is an English style porter so it had a bit more of a hoppiness to the roasty flavor. 

Despite living in Maryland for 4 years, this was our time at Heavy Seas! I’m so glad that we got to try some of the small batch beers in the taproom. We’ll definitely be back soon! 


  • Dark Anchor – Porter – 6.8%
  • Honey Graham Porter – Porter – 8% 
  • Treat – Sour Ale – 7%
  • The Great’er Pumpkin – Pumpkin Beer – 10%

SUM UP: Patapsco Valley State Park is one of the largest parks in Maryland. It has several different areas to hike but one of our favorites is the Soapstone Trail. This is a short hikes that’s great for beginners or for those looking for a quick hike. It’s got some elevation changes so I’ve rated it as moderate. There’s a large parking lot on the side of the road near the trailhead and there’s no entrance fee. Afterward, head to Heavy Seas Brewery only 3.5 miles away to sample some of Maryland’s favorite brews. Heavy Seas is one of the largest breweries in Maryland but you can’t beat getting beer from the source! They have a great neighborhood feel to their taproom that makes you want to stay awhile. Be sure to try either one of their headliners or sample a unique small batch; Heavy Seas has got it all!