Turkey Vultures were kettling above the toll road to Leesburg as I set out for Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland on this unnaturally warm and sunny November day. Some hiking, some field work in support of the paper that I am writing about the park for my geology class.
From the visitors’ center, I followed the clockwise loop suggested by PATC trail guides. The trails in the park are not blazed, but are wide and generally easy to follow, even when covered with the hazard of the season, slippery leaf litter. The side trip to Cunningham Falls is perhaps not worth the bother: the way to the falls is popular and boardwalked.
Back on the main circuit, I climbed to the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook (600′ from my starting point), snapping images of the Catoctin metabasalt. Crossing back to the east, I entered the region of the Weverton quartzite, exposed as Wolf Rock (at left) and Chimney Rock. I found a nice small boulder of Weverton conglomerate, too. Mountaintop bird life was sparse: I was a little surprised to find no juncos. A raven quorked along the way; a nuthatch didn’t seem concerned; a Pileated Woodpecker was rattling the doorknobs of a pine tree.
A little pressed for time and daylight, I followed the guide’s backtrack route, getting back to the car in 3:50, covering about 7.5 miles. My notes say that I covered a 8.3-mile circuit in 1995 in 3:30. I guess those were someone else’s legs.