• Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    4.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    500 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest

Moderately challenging uphill hike through a forest ending at a big rock formation.

The best place to park is on Catoctin Hollow Road in the parking lot that's on the same side of the road as the lake. It's not a huge lot but we were here mid-summer around 10am and found a spot easily. The trail head is on the other side of the street from this parking lot; there is a sign letting you know you're at 'Old Misery Trail.' The name sounds funny until you start climbing the switchbacks and then it starts to make sense.

Like I said, we were there in the middle of the summer in the middle of the day, however we didn't see that many other people on this trail. We passed maybe 10-15 others, and a few had their dogs. The trail is mostly through the woods and is rocky in several places. It's not incredibly well-marked but it's well-worn enough that it's pretty easy to follow. You'll climb up switchbacks for awhile and then eventually reach a more flat area in the woods. Eventually you'll reach the end of Old Misery Trail, and then you'll make a right to continue to Cat Rock (now you're on the Cat Rock Trail). You'll walk about 0.3 miles further after making the turn and then you'll come to a fork - Bear left to go to Cat Rock, which is just a little further.

Cat Rock is a large rock formation that you can climb up. The climb is not easy and requires some pulling yourself up and crawling over rocks, however I'm not an experienced rock climber in the slightest (nor do I have any upper body strength) and I made it up there (with a little help from my boyfriend). The top of Cat Rock is the only part of this hike where you get some nice views of the surrounding mountains. It's also a good spot to sit and have your lunch, although be careful not to topple off the rocks.

The only time where we got a little lost was when we came back down Cat Rock and accidentally walked the wrong way trying to get back to the trail, so just make sure you remember which way you came in when you first get there so you can find your way back out again.

Total time: 3 hours, with about 30 minutes spent eating lunch on Cat Rock

Total distance: ~4.5 miles

Pack List

  • Water
  • Lunch
  • Sneakers/hiking shoes
  • Strong calf muscles
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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Alyssa Ramirez

I'm a 27-year-old raised in New Jersey, schooled in North Carolina (go Tar Heels!), and now living in Washington, DC. I love to travel, hike, take pictures, eat ice cream, and play with dogs.

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