There’s nothing I love more than a long hike in the fall! The trails are less crowded and I love to see the landscape changing. For this hike we headed up the Gunpowder Falls and did the Big Loop in the Hereford area. This hike was the perfect reset for me. Sometimes all you need is a quiet walk in the woods to rejuvenate! We still didn’t quite hit peak foliage colors, but the soft yellows were still beautiful.
THE HIKE: Gunpowder Falls Big Loop
Length: 7.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 691 ft
Time: 3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets, horseback riding
Parking: Various road pulloffs along the loop
Gunpowder Falls State Park spans across Harford and Baltimore counties making it one of Maryland’s largest state parks. It covers nearly 18,000 acres along the Gunpowder River. This particular hike follows a 7 mile loop in the Hereford area of the park. At times, several trails intersect your path so it’s best to have a map pulled up. These trails are open to hiking, biking, and even horseback riding so make sure to share the trail! When we went, we hardly saw anyone but there was a lovely group of horseback riders that we chatted with. Remember when coming up behind horses, try to make some noise to alert your presence. You never want to spook the horse!
Be warned that some parts did get a little overgrown. At one point there were so many trees down along the path that we had to do a bit of bushwhacking! Always be careful when going off trail though and only venture when necessary. For me, the scrambling over trees and through narrow sections made it fun, but I can see some people finding this frustrating. Also a nice plus, this trail passes a bathroom at one of the trailheads which is always nice for longer hikes!
I’ve rated this trail as moderate due to multiple creek crossings and a few difficult inclines. I love stream crossings but J is not a fan. I was very impressed with him for tackling the log crossing over a stream! But don’t worry, the stream was small enough that you didn’t need to cross the log; we just did it for fun! We also saw some good mushrooms along the way. J absolutely loves fall hikes for all the little fungi hiding under leaves.
The only thing I didn’t like about this hike was a small section where you had to cross a road and then go up the street to continue on the trail. It’s a fairly large street so be very careful when making this crossing! Overall, this was a very peaceful hike, perfect for a crisp fall day! I’d definitely come back and do this one again.
THE BEER: Inverness Brewery
Address: 16200 Markoe Rd, Monkton, MD 21111
Distance from Trail Head: 6.5 miles, 10 mins
Food?: Food Trucks onsite, no outside food
H&H Rating: 4/5
Inverness Brewing is a large farm brewery in Monkton, Maryland. It opened in 2018 making it the first farm brewery in Baltimore County. They’ve got everything you could want for a day out! There are two separate bar areas and sometimes even a beer cart outside! You’ll never go hungry with multiple food trucks onsite. There’s plenty of room for kids to run around and even a bocce court! When we visited there was live music in the barn and lots of families picnicking on the lawn. It was such a great atmosphere.
Inverness proudly grows its own hops which we love to see! Farm breweries really are the best because it always feels like you’re joining the owners at their home for the day. Inverness is full of family heirlooms and handmade furniture, including a really impressive swinging bar in the main barn made by one of the owners. There’s also a lower level to the barn that opens up to outdoor seating with firepits. Seriously if you can’t find a nice place to sit here, there’s something wrong with you! We also peaked into the Stall Bar, a small extension of the main bar where you can peek into the brewing facility. True to its name, the owners converted an old stable into the brewing area. Talk about repurposing!
I was disappointed at first to see that no outside food was allowed. I really like to bring my own snacks so I don’t have to spend a lot. BUT we decided to split a pizza from the food truck and I’m glad we made an exception because it was delicious! We had to scarf it down pretty quick though because the flies were out in fll force. We finished out our afternoon by sitting in the loft of the main barn and enjoying the live music. My favorite beer of the beer was definitely the oktoberfest. It was the perfect compliment to the crisp fall day. J really liked the Rye on a Buffalo which was a barrel-aged Nordic Rye. I’m not a huge fan of rye flavors but I’m glad he liked it! Overall, this was a really great brewery and I’m sure we’ll be back!
- Maerzen/Oktoberfest – Marzen – 6.2%
- Barn Beer Porter – Porter – 5.5%
- Breezin – Session IPA – 4.6%
- Rye on a Buffalo – Rye Beer – 6.8%
SUM UP: Gunpowder Falls State Park is a very large park north of Baltimore that spans across two counties. The Big Loop trail is located in the Hereford area and you can park off the road at the trailhead. You won’t encounter much traffic on this peaceful hike but be prepared for stream crossings, some overgrown trails, and climbing over downed trees. Bring a map, as the intersecting trails can get confusing! After this peaceful romp through the woods, head to Inverness Brewing, a farm brewery about 10 minutes away. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, with several onsite food trucks. The beer is very good and the farm setting makes for a great place to unwind. Be sure to check out all the antique and homemade furniture throughout the brewery. And, of course, sit back and enjoy the countryside with a cold brew!