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
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)
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.
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
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.
- 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.