There’s no shortage of outdoor activities in Frederick County, Maryland. In fact, in the city of Frederick itself, every resident lives within a half mile of a park. There are tons of outdoor spots to hike, bike, walk or just relax at, so take a weekend to explore greater Frederick County and get outdoors!
See Maryland’s highest waterfall.
Cunningham Falls in Cunningham State Park is a 78-foot cascading waterfall and it’s very popular! The water flows into a creek bed with giant boulders and rocks and the entire area is wonderful scenic.
There are a couple of different trail options for reaching the waterfall viewing area: a fairly easy 1/2-mile hike on the Lower Falls Trail or a more strenuous 3/4-mile hike on the Cliff Trail. In the interest of time (wink, wink) I took the Lower Falls Trail which ended at a lookout deck near the base of the falls.
Now here’s where things get interesting… next to the lookout deck, there’s a sign that warns against climbing on the rocks, but EVERYONE climbs on the rocks over the creek to get a better view of the waterfall, especially the upper portion. So, if you’re a rule-breaker (like EVERYONE else) and feeling adventurous… that’s all I’ll say about that.
Note: There’s a 1/4-mile boardwalk directly to a parking lot for easy wheelchair access.
There’s also a lake, beach and playground area nearby where visitors can rent watercraft, go swimming or play in the sand.
Also worth seeing are the remains of the Catoctin Furnace which once produced pig iron from locally mined hematite. Pick up a walking tour guide at the visitor center.
Savor the scenic vistas from Catoctin Mountain Park.
For a day of hiking and the full experience, take the challenging 8-mile hiking loop, stopping along the way to enjoy the many overlooks. The trail is marked but sometimes difficult to follow and it’s only for the sure-footed. You’ll see Cunningham Falls, Hog Rock, Blue Ridge Summit, Thurmont Vista, Wolf Rock, and Chimney Rock.
For the less adventurous, there are easier nature trail hikes including the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail which interprets the history of Catoctin Mountain whiskey production and the Charcoal Trail which tells the story of the charcoal making industry on the mountain.
Note: Camp David is in this park so be aware that if the President is visiting, many areas of the park will be closed.
Visit a local farm market.
Stop at Catoctin Mountain Orchard where you can pick your own fruit, photograph and cut your own flowers or just wander the huge market store and bakery. Fill your shopping basket with fresh fruits, veggies, apple cider donuts, jam, honey, maple syrup, apple dumplings, pound cakes, pies and pretty much anything heavenly you can think of.
Drive (or walk) through Maryland’s shortest covered bridge.
There are only six covered bridges remaining in Maryland, and three of them are in Frederick County including Roddy Road Covered Bridge – the smallest of the bunch. Built in 1856, the single span bridge is only 40 feet long and crosses over a little bubbling creek. It’s a very pretty place to snap photos, and since there’s a small playground right next to it, you can easily park and enjoy the peaceful setting.
There are two additional covered bridges in Frederick County: Utica Mills and Loys Station and all three bridges are within 12 miles of each other so if you have time, go see them all. Driving tour directions here.
Catch the sweet scent of lavender fields in bloom.
Drop by Springfield Manor to see their 2600 English and French variety lavender plants and try their award-winning lavender gin. The distillery, winery and brewery are all on the same property so enjoy a tasting of spirits, wine or craft beer while gazing out at those luscious lavender fields. Check open hours before visiting.
Mark your calendars for the Maryland Lavender Festival June 17 & 18 at Springfield Manor. Ticket info here.
Fall in love with the countryside and stay at the Inn at Springfield Manor.
Just steps from the lavender fields is a charming bed and breakfast with eight guest suites situated on the second and third floors. Every suite enjoys a lovely view and my suite, Valerie’s Secret, was the only one with a view to the North.
Guests can wander the estate taking in the views, stargaze in the evenings, relax by the private fire pit, grab a chair on the porch, and gaze out over the lavender fields. Breakfast is served each morning in the Stone Room, and each stay comes with a complimentary wine, spirit, or beer tasting.
Note: There is no WiFi service in the inn, and as with most B&B’s, guest suites are accessible only by stairs. Click here for reservations and more info.
Take a self-guided auto tour of Monocacy National Battlefield.
Pick up a map of the key locations at the Visitor Center and download the audio for a great overview of the battle and details on each of the stops you’ll be making.
Hungry for more? There are daily ranger talks and hiking trails available as well.
Bike or take a boat ride along the C&O Canal.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is spread over 184.5 miles between Cumberland, Maryland and Washington D.C. There are seven visitor centers throughout the park and something unique to see all along the towpath including lock houses, dams and aqueducts. The longest of all the aqueducts is the Monocacy Aqueduct in Dickerson, MD and it’s well worth a stop.
Bring your own bike or borrow a bike and helmet for 2 hours through the bike loaner programs in Great Falls and Williamsport. Access to the towpath is located at trailheads and parking lots near major canal points of interest.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, visitors can take one hour boat rides from Williamsport.
Watch the only high wheel race of its kind in the U.S.
The National Clustered Spires High Wheel Race takes place every August in historic downtown Frederick. Riders race along a .4 mile loop on either antique or modern high-wheel bicycles. Attendance is free.
There is so much fun to be had with all these outdoor activities in Frederick County, Maryland! For help in planning a trip to the area, contact VisitFrederick.org.
Comments & Reviews
robin rue says
What a charming area to visit. I love covered bridges, so that would be my first stop!
YES! There is something really special about covered bridges!
I literally live an hour from here! I can’t believe I’ve never seen these places! Thank you for the pictures, I have a few places to go see this spring!
Oh my gosh you lucky girl! Take the kids and go. You will love it so much!
Oh wow! Everything looks so beautiful! Like there is a photo around every corner! I love covered bridges!
I absolutely adore your travel posts. Not only do you feature beautiful areas, you also bring us places to go and things to do that aren’t the same old same old.
I love anything that has to do with history. I love when you can go to the place and actually physically see it and touch it. Those covered bridges are probably some of the favorite things I love to see you. I’ll have to check out this place when I can.
Melissa Chapman says
The views you showed were really amazing and I would love to do some of those hikes. The Inn looks like a great place to call home for a few days while taking in the sights.
Alissa Apel says
It’s so pretty there. I had an old roommate that lived in Ocean City, MD. I like all the pictures from where you stayed.
Nancy at Whispered Inspirations says
Wow this really looks like a super fabulous place to visit! How cool that there are so many different activities to participate in.
Allison Cooper says
I love the idea of walking through lavender fields – I bet they smell amazing. There’s so much that Maryland has to offer!
Jenna M Wood says
Wow, this really looks like a romantic place to vacation- I would love a little weekend getaway to Frederick County. I have relatives in Maryland so there’s always a good excuse to visit!
Wow, this place looks really fun! I would love to explore it with my family!
Wow I love how many different activities there are to take part in. I am going to have to add this place to my travel bucket list asap.
Mama to 6 Blessings says
What stunning views! I have only been to Maryland a few times just passing through. Looks like next time we need to stop and enjoy!
Dawn Lopez says
My family loves nature and this looks like such a fun trip. There are such a wide variety of activities to do in Frederick county! I think Cunningham Falls is gorgeous
What a beautiful place. These pictures are absolutely amazing.
I have yet to travel to this state but it looks really fun! I’ll have to add it to my list.
Halfway through your post I began planning my own trip in my head lol! The covered bridges: so idyllic. Lavender gin: ‘yes please’! No WiFi at the B&B? A bit scary but I think I could do it.
This looks like a wonderful place to visit. I would love to visit the covered bridges.
Maryland is a gorgeous place to visit. I’ll need to plan a vacation there someday soon.
sheila ressel says
What a great variety of things there are to do. I would love to see, and smell, the lavender fields in bloom!