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

https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/maryland/appalachian-trail-turners-gap-to-monument-knob

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 
Website: http://www.homaidebrewing.com/
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!

Raven Rocks & Bear Chase Brewery

Bluemont, Virginia

We’ve got another birthday hike for you! My birthday is at the very beginning of October and to celebrate I wanted to try out a new hike and brew combo (big surprise). We went all the way out to Bluemont, Virginia to do Raven Rocks along the Appalachian Trail and to stop at Bear Chase Brewery right across the road. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate! We had excellent weather, good beer, and a fantastic hike. Cheers to another year around the globe.

THE HIKE: Raven Rocks via Appalachian Trail

Length: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,535 ft
Difficulty: Difficult
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: small lot so plan accordingly
H&H: 5/5

Raven Rocks is a popular section of the Appalachian Trail in Bluemont, Virginia. It was a bit out of the way for us Maryland folks, but totally worth it! We started at the trailhead right off Harry Byrd Parkway/ VA 7. Although we were lucky to snag a spot, this parking lot is pretty small and there is NO STREET PARKING. You will get towed! As an alternative, you can park at the Snickers Gap Lot which adds 0.4 miles at either end of the hike. I was uneasy about parking here since it requires walking across the divided highway. If you park there please use EXTREME caution when crossing the road! 

Most of this trail is fairly moderate, but there are a couple really rocky spots combined with elevation increases, so I’ve bumped it up to a Difficult rating. This was definitely a hike where I wished I had a walking stick or hiking poles at times. I really loved the challenge though! Sometimes a nice nature walk hits the spot, but other times I love scrambling over rocks and getting my heart rate up! Also I loved seeing all of the mushrooms and acorns along the trail. Despite the warm October we’ve been having, it felt a little like fall! 

After a lot of winding up and down the trail (they don’t call this the Roller-Coaster for nothing) we made it to the overlook. It was so impressive and such a peaceful place to stop. We’ve seen a lot of rocky overlooks during our hikes, but I never get tired of them! This was quite a roomy overlook so there’s plenty of room even on a busy day. We relaxed for a while and eventually decided to head back down. Make sure you have really good shoes for this hike because some of the downhill is more difficult than going up! Close to three hours after we started, we made it back to our car. We had worked up quite a thirst and were so lucky that Bear Chase Brewery was so close! 

THE BEER: Bear Chase Brewery

Address: 33665 Bear Chase Ln, Bluemont, VA 20135
Distance from Trail Head: 0.9 miles, 3 mins
Website: https://bearchasebrew.com/
Food?: Full Menu, No outside food
H&H Rating: 4/5

Bear Chase Brewery is located off VA 7 and is the perfect stop for hikers. In fact, the AT runs right behind their facility so you could add to your Raven Rocks hike to go to the Bear’s Den overlook. Or even further to Buzzard Rocks. The possibilities are endless! We stuck with Raven Rocks and then drove to the brewery since I really wasn’t into crossing that huge highway. 

Bear Chase Brewery is a farm brewery located on a massive 35 acre property that offers plenty of places to relax with a handcrafted brew. For a pretty penny, you can even rent out the Bear Chase Manor for you and 13 of your closest friends! There’s also plenty of on-site restaurants and food trucks so you’ll never go hungry! Just note that no outside food is allowed. We weren’t expecting this and had to eat our packed lunch later on! We really enjoyed the views and atmosphere at this brewery. As an apartment dweller, I relished being able to kick back in an adirondack chair and take in the rolling hills as I sipped a decent beer. We only had one round here since we had a long drive ahead of us and we both thought the Mornin’ Sunshine was the best of the two. It had a really refreshing hop taste that was balanced by something fruity, guava maybe? Definitely hit the spot after our hike. Overall, I liked this brewery but I thought it toed the line of being, dare I say, too commercial? It felt a bit like one of those places that puts more into the location and the atmosphere than their actual product. But hey, I only tried two beers so I can’t be certain on that! 

Our Beer:

  • Mornin’ Sunshine – American IPA – 6.7%
  • Oktoberfest Marzen – Marzen – 6%

SUM UP: Raven Rocks is a popular section of the Appalachian Trail in Bluemont Virginia. It has a small lot which fills up quickly. There is another parking location but it involves crossing a divided highway so be cautious. The trail itself is very rocky with lots of ups and downs. Wear good shoes and bring plenty of water. The 5.7 mile out-and-back trail has a turn around point at a beautiful overlook that’s a perfect place to have a snack and relax. After your hike, check out Bear Chase Brewery, a newer farm brewery only 0.9 miles up the road. It’s a huge facility with lots of food options and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. May I suggest the Adirondack chairs overlooking the valley? If you have time, there are so many other breweries to check out in the area! We’ll definitely be back.

Annapolis Rock & Cushwa Brewing Company

Williamsport, MD

Okay so this one is a throwback hike but I couldn’t not share it! According to the Alltrails app this is the #1 hike in Maryland. Like seriously, the #1 in the whole state! J and started doing a ton more hiking last year (thank ‘Rona) so we set ourselves a challenge to do 20 hikes in 2020. Since getting outside was pretty much the only thing we could do, we ended up hitting our goal pretty quickly. We wanted our 20th hike to be a big one so we tackled a section of the Appalachian Trail leading to Annapolis Rock and Black Rock. It was amazing and so worth it and you should all hike it. Plus it was a great excuse to hit up a brewery I had heard tons of good things about. 

All Trails Map

I had heard A LOT about getting to this hike early so we got there around 8am. J and I are not morning people so this was quite a struggle for us. Thankfully we managed to get ourselves up and moving. By the time we finished up our hike, the lot was absolutely PACKED so we’re not kidding about getting there early!

THE HIKE: Annapolis & Black Rock via Appalachian Trail
Length: ~7.4 miles
Elevation Gain: ~900ft
Difficulty: Moderate (Some rocks and mostly uphill the first mile)
Time: 3-3.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, running, leashed pets allowed
Parking: Limited parking, get there early!
H&H: 5/5

At the time, this was the longest hike we had ever tackled, but despite some inclines and rocky terrain, neither of us felt like this trail was particularly difficult. It was the perfect mix of challenge and payoff at the overlooks. The first overlook you’ll come to is Annapolis Rock. This is actually about 0.25 miles off of the Appalachian Trail so keep your eyes open for the signpost! The view is really incredible but we found that the popularity of the trail meant that the overlook was crowded. We didn’t stay too long and decided to head onto the next overlook. Black Rock really was a delight. It has all the views of Annapolis Rock with far fewer people. In fact, we were the only ones at the overlook when we arrived! We spent a lot of time taking pictures, clambering over rocks, and just taking in the incredible views. 

Annapolis Rock Overlook

The great thing about this hike is being right on the Appalachian Trail. If you need a bit more, keep on going! Or if you’re feeling done after one overlook, that’s cool too. This hike took us close to 3.5 hours, so make sure to bring plenty of water and maybe some snacks too. We did this hike in the dead of summer but it’s completely shaded the whole time so that helps to keep down the heat. Also watch out for ground hornets! I got a nasty sting through my pants on our way back down. A less than gentle reminder that I need to pack a small first aid kit. Overall, this was a fantastic hike to celebrate our 20th outing and I will absolutely do it again! I’d love to start at a different point along the AT and end at Black Rock again. I’m hoping to hike all of the AT in Maryland. I’ve got a ways to go!

THE BEER: Cushwa Brewing Company
Address: 10210 Governor Lane Boulevard #2010, Williamsport, MD 21795
Distance from Trail Head: 14.2 miles, ~20 mins
Website: http://cushwabrewing.com/
Food?: Full Menu – Rad Pies (in house restaurant)
H&H Rating: 4/5

I had been hearing good things about Cushwa Brewing Company since moving to Maryland, but they always seemed pretty far away. Thankfully, this hike proved the perfect opportunity to bring us to the area! The drive from the trailhead to brewery is a little longer than my past combos, but it’s a very easy route and Cushwa is definitely worth it! They have indoor and outside seating and offer up a surprisingly large tap list. They have offerings for every palate but seem to focus in on the Pale Ale/ IPAs. Which was perfect for me! They also offer local wine, cocktails, and beer slushies in the summer. 

Probably the best thing about Cushwa (especially after nearly an 8-mile hike) was the in-house pizzeria, Rad Pies. And let me tell you, they were fricking RAD. Seriously, every hike J and I pack sandwiches or veggies and hummus in hopes that we don’t order food at the brewery. Ya know, health and all. But honestly when a brewery is slinging some Rad Pies, what were we supposed to do?! 

We’ve been back to Cushwa twice now and it’s been really solid both times. There’s also a brand new brewery in the same plaza called Homaide that we absolutely need to check out next time. Maybe when we’re back to do another section of the AT. 

Our Beer: 

  • Fraction of Fiction – NEIPA – 6.6%
  • Cush, Jr. – Table Beer – 4.2% 
  • Me, Myself & Citra – NEIPA – 6% 
  • Tenuous Pawn – Brown Ale – 6.6% 
  • French Fog – Saison – 6.4%

SUM UP: Annapolis and Black Black via AT is a 7.5 mile, out-and-back trail that is moderate in difficulty. It is very popular so parking can be limited. The two overlooks are breathtaking and make any difficult inclines worth it. About 15 miles away is Cushwa Brewing Company which has a delicious in-house pizzeria and offers up a solid beer selection. Perfect after a morning out on the trail!

H&H Overall Rating: 4/5