Northern Virginia Dayhikes

No more than one hour away

Maryland Heights
Distance: photo
loop - 4.6/1300
to overlook and back - 2.4/900
from town, add 1.4 (no climbing)

Location: Harpers Ferry, WV (where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet)

Picture: View from Jefferson Rock, accessed via short trail from town.

Description: The trail takes you up a hill where you'll find the remains of fortifications and encampments made by the Union army during the Civil War. A number of signs along the way describe what you are seeing. Limited views can be had from the top. Overlook Cliff provides an excellent viewpoint of Harpers Ferry, the Potomac River, and the Shenandoah River.


last hiked: 2005

Catoctin Mountain Park
short loop - 8.7/1200
long loop - 10/1760 (includes Cat Rock)

Location: About 15 miles north of Frederick, MD, access from US 15.

Description: Walk over to Cunningham Falls, then hike up to some pleasant views and interesting rock outcroppings. The longer loop will also take you by a lake.


last hiked: 2000

Sugarloaf Mountain
Distance: photo
circuit - 8.1/1700
summit from upper parking - 0.5/350

Location: Access from I-270 about 10 miles southeast of Frederick, MD (can also be reached via Point of Rocks or Whites Ferry).

Picture: Winter view from the near the summit.

Description: Sugarloaf Mountain, standing pretty much by itself, provides excellent views of the rolling farmland surrounding it. The quartzite outcroppings at and around the summit are very interesting and the trail which climbs through them (starting from the upper parking area) is a particularly scenic one. The other trails provide a few views, but are mostly just a nice hike through the woods.


last hiked: 2003 (limited hiking in 2012, 2013)

Prince William Forest Park
Pyrite Mine loop: 6.1
Beaver loop: 7.5
combined loop: 12.0
full area loop: 15.6

Location: Access from I-95 at Quantico, about 20 miles south of Springfield, VA

Map: Map and other information from the National Park Service

Description: A pleasant walk through mature forest and along some nice streams. Passes 2 very small waterfalls and the remains of an old Pyrite mine (which I've never actually seen since that part of the trail has been closed for reclamation for the last several years).


last hiked: Spring, 2003

G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area
Distance (estimated):
lake loop - 7.2/1300 (includes wildflower loop)
wildflower loop - 2/300

Location: Just north of I-66 at Linden or Markham, VA (just east of Front Royal)

Picture: Large-flowered Trillium

Map: Good on-line map and other information.

Description: Most of the year, this is a rather ordinary walk on the Appalachian Trail along a rocky, forested ridge. In early May, however, the forest comes alive with what may be the largest collection of Large-flowered Trillium anywhere in North America.


last hiked: May, 2001

Cascade Falls
Distance (elevation change estimated):
Morning Choice/Ridge Trail loop - 5.1/400 photo
Rockburn Branch loop - add 1.2/120 to MC/RT loop
Cascade Falls Loop trail - 1.8/300
To the falls and back - 0.4/100

Location: Patapsco Valley State Park, Avalon area - just off I-95 a few miles south of Baltimore

Picture: Cascade Falls

Map: Detailed map may be purchased on-line for a small fee.

Description: Cascade Falls is a small but very pretty little spot on a side creek of the Patapsco River. The trail follows the scenic creek for a short distance and then continues through the forest, occasionally passing some large, open fields.


last hiked: Spring, 2006

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