Gambrill State Park is a beautiful mountain park, located on the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County. The park has two areas for family activities, the Rock Run area and the High Knob area. The Rock Run area has a campground, a picnic area, and a small pond. The High Knob area has a picnic area, three stone overlooks, three picnic shelters, and a large stone lodge, called the Tea Room. The overlooks provide breath-taking views of the Frederick and Middletown valleys. The picnic shelters and the Tea Room can be rented for special events. The park also has 16 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
I hiked both the lower and upper yellow trails. Other than North Frederick Overlook, there are no vistas on the yellow trails. In order to get a good view, one should leave the lower yellow trail and enter the High Knob Visitor Center area, rejoin the lower yellow trail afterward.
Hiked this trail with kids - 12 & 7 with a 2 year old on my back. It was great hike. A word of caution though - cross the street when you are in the parking lot and get on the trail there. The trailhead from the parking lot leads to a long, uphill climb and is SOO much easier going the other way. I was thankful for the AllTrails app because it clued me into this and we went the easier way!
I bought a new backpack for a few trips my son and I plan to take this fall. We chose this park as a trail run. The trial was great. Very little traffic for a late summer trek. Lots of flat to offset the up and down hill parts. Views are worth the effort. Lots of trail options here. Can't wait to spend another day checking them out. Trails are well marked with great signs.
Truly the hike is difficult as the path is fairly rocky through out . We are novice hikers and found trail markings a bit sparse . Thank goodness for the app and phone service or we might still be out there in the yellow loop. The elevation was not a problem. There's not much to interest you along the way.
We may have been better of not doing the upper loop but we came we conquered and will be back! Oh and saw a downy woodpecker
This is a great day-hike area. With Gambrill campground connecting to this and with the few road access/parking areas intersecting the road, you can easily scale hikes in this area to meet the needs of most folks while staying away from the rush of big crowds.
I did a 3.6 mile version of this hike with a few friends and it was a little different for each of us. Some were exhausted, I felt it was a good level for exercise, but the trail blazer was left looking for more. The different parking areas seem to be strategically placed between the sections of varying difficulty, so it has segments perfect for children or elders.
The overlook spots are close to the road, so you could easily make your way there for a sun rise (for the one east-facing overlook) or set (three good spots for sun sets) without having to navigate the trail in the dark.
If this is part of your longer thru hike, there are a few streams, but there was only one flowing (assisted spring?) while we were there. No matter though, the park at the peak has both potable water and bathrooms.... Not sure if they close or shut of after dark though.
Some trails were bike friendly but I only saw two riders and they were only on the northern end of the loop, heading to the overlook. The rest of the cyclists (and there were MANY) were all using the road.
I don't believe any camping along the trail is permitted though. Just at the campgrounds near by, which are many. It's well marked and maintained. Even surprisingly clean from evidence of the pets I saw on the the trail.
10 out of 10: would do again.
OH! The Gambrill campground has a few (four?) tent spots that can ONLY be reserved in person. Good info if ever you wanna try your luck after being turned down by the online reservation system.