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

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!