Gunpowder Falls State Park & Inverness Brewery

Parkton, Maryland

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

Trail Map:

Length: 7.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 691 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets, horseback riding
Parking: Various road pulloffs along the loop
H&H: 4/5

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!

Our Beer:

  • 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!

Gambrill State Park & Midnight Run Brewing

Frederick, Maryland

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

Our route is highlighted in pink

Length: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 686ft
Difficulty: Easy
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.

Dat stratigraphy baby

THE BEER: Midnight Run Brewing

Address: 912 N East St, Frederick, MD 21701
Distance from Trail Head:  8.8 miles, 16 mins 
Food?: BYOF
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!

Our Beer:

  • 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!