Catoctin Mountain Hike & Buffet Lunch at the Mountain Gate Restaurant

Since this is such a popular hiking location, due to the spectacular views, we have to get to the parking lot and the trail head early.  So, prepare the day before the hike, come to the meeting place early, have a cup of coffee there, and then let's head up the mountains safely and in a relaxed manner.

At our last hike, we were very careful to stay on the trail - wherever it was

You are most welcome to bring your pet, but you may not allow your dog to run free and it must remain on a leash that is six feet or less at all times for the safety and well-being of the pet.  There have been several rabid animals identified in the forest, and this is the prime reason for this requirement - it is also the law.

We are meeting at the Mountain Gate Restaurant's parking lot at 8:30 AM.

The address of the Mountain Gate is 133 Frederick Road, Thurmont, Maryland.  Here is the web site:

http://mountaingatefamilyrestaurant.com/

Everything at this restaurant is comprised of down-home country cooking, which means it is good food and there's plenty of it.

The buffet price is $14 - one price - and it is all you can eat!  Wait until you see the spread on these long buffet tables......

This will be a cold weather hike, so hikers should dress accordingly.  Please read the entire activity write-up, and read the documents located by way of the links within the narrative.

It is requested that attendees post a profile photo, so that we know who you are, and we can look for you at the event.  This event is appropriate for all ages, and members may bring guests and young'uns.

These squirrels are always playing tricks on us, trying to get us to leave the trail

We are meeting at 8:30 AM in the parking lot of the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, consolidating cars for carpooling, leaving for the trail head at 8:45 AM, and then beginning the hike at 9 AM.  There is no admission fee to the national park.  We have to commence early to ensure we have enough parking for our posse.

This activity is appropriate for folks of all ages and hiking abilities, provided they can walk unassisted for 4 miles in an outdoor, mountainous setting.  No special equipment is needed; waterproof hiking boots or mountain trail shoes are okay, unless we get a lot of snow right before our hike, for then full boots are a must.

The mountain's name is derived from the Kittoctons, an American Indian tribe, which once lived between the mountain and the Potomac River.  It means "a place of many deer."

Our meeting place in Thurmont

At the trail head, we will start our walk at elevation 840 feet, by the Catoctin Mountain National Park Service Headquarters (do not enter that facility, as it is the Superintendent's home).  There are no public rest room facilities right there, or along the trail, as it is the wilderness, so please plan accordingly.  Some of our members on past hikes found that bringing zip lock bags with baby wipes were convenient, if the need exists.  So, stop along the way to the meeting location if you are shy about using nature.  During the hike, though, your shyness will have to be dissipated.  Regarding the climb, Wolf Rock's elevation is 1401 feet, and Chimney Rock's elevation is 1419 feet.  Accordingly, since we will start at 840 feet, the total extended elevation climb for our entire walk is solely 579 feet.

The pictures shown below are from the same hike that our group did in the past, and they can provide our members an idea of what it is like up here and what folks wore on the trail.

At the base of the mountain, our adventurers definitely seemed ready for the challenge ahead

When we got to Chimney Rock, we could see the mountain range for many miles.  Will we will have an early snowfall this year?

At the crossroads of several trails, we were still doing well

Some have to buy their coats while others have natural coats

The city slickers wondered why this was called copperhead crevice

The colder it gets up here, the happier the hikers seem to be

Yes, the crevices were quite deep, and one could even see Pennsylvania beyond the mountains

Everyone made it safely to Chimney Rock at this hike

Each hiker likes to lay a claim to a personal rock

The very large boulders, though, they can be shared

Meditating on the buffet meal is a definite driving force for us

We will be just Southeast of Camp David, and we will stay on the trail, or else we will be greeted by well-armed strangers

In the cold mountains, the air is fresh and clean; one feels reinvigorated, and can get healed up here.

As noted, children are welcome, but must be kept under supervision at all times.  Pets are welcome on the hike, but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.

Be aware that the trails may be treacherous and slippery, which is why we do not rush on our hikes.

This will be an up-and-back loop hike.  Remember that off season hiking demands twice the energy as fair weather hiking; that is, one mile in the cold with wet terrain equals two miles in the warmth with dry terrain.

Yes, the area is serene and resplendent as well as remote in its wild nature.  However, allow me to say this, so that there is no misunderstanding later on.  Our entire hike will take place on Federal property.  We will be east of Camp David (i.e., the Presidential Retreat, originally called Shangri-la, which is actually a US Navy installation), and south of Area "R" (i.e., Raven Rock, otherwise known as the Alternate National Military Command Center, or the "Backup Pentagon").  Of course, since the sensitive facilities are all in an underground complex, it will not be visible.  The perimeters therein are nonetheless prohibited locations.  It is therefore important that none of us venture in areas that are off-limits.  Accordingly, we will stay on the trail, so that no stray sheep become part of a Federal catch and release program.  This is one of the few parks where riflemen are trained to shoot people.

There are no parking fees, and no park entrance charges, and no costs whatsoever in the park.  Your only cost will be in gas for the trip and for food at the restaurant.

While some of our hikers may appear to venture where angels fear to tread, they always keep it safe

Here is what our hike will consist of.  The walking will start on the trail head at 9 AM, so all will need to arrive before that time, as the parking lot fills quickly.  If you miss the 8:30 AM meeting, you will have to somehow catchup.  We will do a 4-mile loop to the mountainous outlooks, and visit two of the most well known and most scenic rock formations in the entire national park, Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock.  While the initial ascent is classified as "the most strenuous, narrow, steep, and slippery trail" in the park, and it is "very difficult to identify without a map and compass," we will be okay.  Regarding the ascent, if you can walk up several flights of stairs, you will do just fine.  The park rangers tell visitors that a compass and map is strongly advised, as so many get lost there, so this hike will test our trail tracking skills.  We will keep our eyes open to ascertain where the trail is.  The views are stupendous in the Catoctin Mountain, which is the easternmost mountain ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and which in turn is a part of the Appalachian Mountain Range.

As well as having radio contact capability with the park rangers, we will have at least one first responder with us trained in first aid and CPR.

And after the hike, we will enjoy a well-deserved repast, and eat to our heart's content at this excellent family restaurant.

When you RSVP, make sure you answer the corollary question that will magically appear asking you if you want to eat the buffet lunch after the hike so that I know what size room to reserve on that day.

At the Mountain Gate, we will share stories that you don't read about in booksl

Please note that we're giving ourselves three hours for a four mile walk, and it includes extended breaks at two overlooks.  No one will be left behind, as we will have a sweep and be in radio contact at all times.  The activity is dependent on safe weather, as hiker safety is the top priority.  If the event is canceled due to inclement weather, all will get an email the evening before, no later than 9 PM.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at any time.

Based on what we have learned from prior winter activities, we have made a document for our hikers that can be life-saving during the cold weather season, and it lists sensible clothing to wear in the winter:

Letter to Hikers - Winter Hiking Gear - What to Bring and Wear

As is true on all our outdoor hiking and kayaking activities, no smoking, no alcohol, and no illicit drugs.  As well as being an assault on common sense, it is quite rude for a group to be walking single file with one person smoking away thus having everyone behind him coughing and wheezing.

This document contains a map of the area:

Catoctin Mountain Park Map

Since there are several exits to Route 806 off of Route 15 North, as you are heading north towards Thurmont, after you pass the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo on your right, make sure that when you exit from Route 15 this sign is at the exit:

Please read this entire document to know the specifics and logistics for our event:

Catoctin Mountain Hike, March 3, 2013

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  • Laura M.

    Thank you to Bob for organizing and Tom for sweeping! I really enjoyed the hike and meeting everyone! Even though I ski downhill, I had never attempted a hike in cold weather. I certainly will be doing more in the future. Thanks again!

    March 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This a was a great hike, with a fantastic group of people. I want to thank Tom for being the sweep. And our meal at the Mountain Gate was worth all our efforts on the mountain.

    March 4, 2013

  • Jennifer L

    Fun

    March 3, 2013

  • Doris

    Great hike and views, nice friendly people... the food mmmm! so good after that long hike, all the calories we lose we put it right back

    March 3, 2013

  • Susan

    Thanks for organizing this Bob. I met some great peole I hope to see again.

    March 3, 2013

  • Jennifer L

    My first outing with the club it was made of good trails, good people, good food. It was a very good day! I enjoyed hiking with all of you. Thank you for organizing this Bob.

    March 3, 2013

  • Sheri R

    Breathtaking views, friendly hikers, fearless leader, and more than enough food to replace all the calories we burned hiking. Thanks, Bob!

    March 3, 2013

  • Linda

    Had fun today! Met some really nice people. Thanks again Bob!

    March 3, 2013

  • Laurie

    Great hike, great people. Looking forward to more...

    March 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry about not showing up. I've been fighting the flu. Although it is close to gone, my body evidently decided it needed more sleep this morning.

    March 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry to cancel. It looks like a beautiful day.

    March 3, 2013

  • Leo

    lunch

    March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Ok I worked all afternoon hoping to get enough done but the mound was too big. I'll have to miss this hike although I so enjoyed the last one. See you next time & have fun!

    March 2, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Okee dokee.

      March 2, 2013

  • Laura M.

    I am driving north on I95 from Stafford if anyone else wants to carpool. Linda is riding along but there is room for two more. We should be on the I95 by 6am.

    March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    If feel better will join!

    March 2, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Okay, Connie, take care of yourself.

      March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hey Bob, Alice's daughter is sick so we're keeping the baby. Sorry we'll miss this one. See you at another one soon.

    March 2, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Okay, Steve. I hope she gets well. Take care.

      March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Remember that we are meeting at the Mountain Gate Restaurant's parking lot at 8:30 AM. The manager gave us the okay to park there, consolidate vehicles, leave most vehicles there, and take the transport vehicles with the hikers to the trailhead.

    March 2, 2013

  • Jennifer L

    This will be my first group hike, and my first hike with this group. :) Looking forward to it!

    March 2, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Welcome, Jennifer. Please read the entire activity description, particularly the last document in the write-up located by way of a hyperlink.

      March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    For those of you recently added to the RSVP list, please read the document that is hyperlinked at the end of the activity write-up.

    March 2, 2013

    • Laura M.

      I was moved off the wait list to YES. Please include me for the LUNCH if I failed to indicate that on my RSVP. Looking forward to the hike but not the COLD! Brrrr....

      March 2, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      It will be cold at the very beginning. After we begin walking, you will warm up. And when we are heading towards the end of the hike, you will be saying how warm it is! Keep saying: There are no bugs now.

      1 · March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I cant make it. Sorry to cancel so late. Have a great time!

    March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - Please read the above document at the bottom of the activity write-up, entitled "Catoctin Mountain Hike, March 3, 2013." Also, above I have added a picture of the sign that you will see when you get off of Route 15 at Thurmont.

    1 · March 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Here is the weather report for the day and location of our hike that gets updated in real time: http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=39.619970407119&lon=-77.42923736572266

    1 · February 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Any chance there will be a wait list for this hike?

    February 24, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thank you

      February 25, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      We have had cancellations, so I can add some......

      February 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am sorry Bob, I am not able to make the trip after all. Thank you for all your great organizing

    February 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hello, bob... I will not be able to attend this time... Looking forward to.next time! Thanks for all your work in organizing these meetups!!!! Mania

    February 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Something came up and I'll have to miss this one. Have fun and I'll see everyone at the next event.

    February 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My son's car died and I'll be helping him find a new one- see you next time!

    February 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - I am closing this event to solidify the attendee list (i.e., the herding of stray cats is over). Two things: One, if you cannot make the event, please update your RSVP accordingly. Two, work on carpooling plans now rather than the night before the activity.

    February 21, 2013

  • Laura M.

    Please WAITLIST me. I am a new member and just discovered this hike. If I am able to attend I am interested in a carpool since it is so far away. I am willing to drive. I am in Stafford and will be driving I95 to I495 towards Tysons for Carpool.

    February 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I may bring my daughter

    February 10, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Kids and guests are welcome on my hikes. On this one, pets are welcome as well.

      February 14, 2013

  • Susan

    I will attend the lunch also.

    February 11, 2013

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