Camping at Catoctin

This past weekend Nick and I headed to Catoctin Mountain National Park, an hour outside of D.C. in Sabillasville, Md., to camp at Owens Creek camp ground.

Catoctin Mountain Park has many hiking trails and some great scenic views, and is also home to the presidential retreat, Camp David. We stayed at a nearby campground earlier this summer when the President was at Camp David and many of the trails were closed to hikers, so this was our first time really exploring the area.

The only area for camping is at Owens Creek camp ground. All of the sites are first-come, first-served and there is no camp office or store – you simply claim a site and self-register by filling out an envelope and dropping your money into a lock box at the park entrance. The camp ground was very rustic, there were only 50 sites and two modest bath houses, but the sites were large and wooded.

We didn’t arrive to the camp ground until after 7 p.m. on Friday night when it was already dark. Some kind neighbors dropped off their lantern to supplement ours while we were setting up, but we still ended up putting the tent up backwards in the dark…fortunately it has a full size rear door 🙂

Friday night was chilly, temperatures dipped into the 30s overnight, but we’ve fortunately invested in some nice sleeping pads and sleeping bags and with a hat and  few layers we both stayed warm.

How Nick looks sleeping in a tent in 30-degree weather.

As soon as we woke up Saturday morning we made coffee and a warm breakfast (despite our frozen fingers) since we were looking forward to the day’s adventure and riding in the car with heated seats our planned hike.

Catoctin Mountain has miles of hiking trails and Nick mapped out an 8-mile loop along the east side of the park, which included several vistas with some gorgeous views of the area.

Unfortunately the falls leaves are only just starting to turn, but the views were still beautiful, and I can only imagine how pretty it will be in a couple more weeks.

The hiking trails were mostly rocky and pretty challenging and there were were only a few smooth areas – as is often the case, even with  heavy hiking boots my toes started to hurt after a few miles from tripping so much!

Thankfully it was sunny and got warmer throughout the day and we successfully completed our 8-mile hike in a little less than four hours, with a few stops along the way to rest and enjoy the views.

We spent the rest of Saturday afternoon relaxing and playing games at our campsite – and despite the warmer weather, that evening we sat as close to the fire as we could before heading to bed. Thankfully the temperatures that night were milder and on Sunday morning Nick and I were a lot less reluctant to leave the warmth of our sleeping bags to start breakfast.

We had a really nice time camping and visiting the park,  and I hope we can make it back  again next summer. Weather dependent, this will probably be our last camping trip of the season, so I’m glad it was such a success…and that we were able to cross two more things off our fall bucket list!

2012 Fall Bucket List: 

  • Attend a fall festival or Oktoberfest (Annapolis Fall Festival)
  • Carve a pumpkin and roast the seeds
  • Go on a fall picnic
  • Roast s’mores in the fireplace
  • Bake pumpkin bread
  • Go on a hike and enjoy nature
  • Try a new hearty soup or fall recipe
  • Drink apple cider
  • Go camping
  • Run the Turkey Trot 5/10-mile
  • Drink a pumpkin beer (Starr Hill Boxcar Pumpkin Porter)
  • Create a fall mantel

One thought on “Camping at Catoctin

  1. Pingback: Fall Bucket List Wrap-Up | Isn't It Sweet

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