Catoctin Mountain Park | HOG ROCK NATURE TRAIL

Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Length: 1-mile loop
Time: 45 minutes, including time to read the accompanying trail brochure
Difficulty: Easy with a mild hill or two

The Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park is a 1-mile loop trail that starts at the Hog Rock Parking Lot on Park Central Road. The trailhead is across the street—look for the sign. Located in the parking lot is a fancy outhouse—pit toilet in a permanent building—and a few picnic tables.

Being an educational nature trail, there are signs along the route that identify trees and other natural features. For more information on these features, be sure to pick up a brochure from the box attached to the trail sign (assuming it is stocked). If you have no need for the brochure after the hike, please return it to the box.

Nature-oriented stop along the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Nature-oriented stop along the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

The Hog Rock Nature Trail is lollypop shaped, meaning you hike out on the stick portion before coming to the loop. The trail is marked with yellow triangular blazes. For those who are not familiar with blazes, these are paint splotches on trees and rocks that you follow like Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs so that you don’t get lost. However, they aren’t really necessary here, for the trail is well marked with directional signage at each intersection. The stick portion of the trail is also the Catoctin Mountain Park’s Yellow Trail, so you’ll see yellow diamonds and standard rectangular yellow blazes on the trees. Once you turn off onto the loop, only yellow diamond blazes are used.

Yellow triangle blazes mark the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Yellow triangle blazes mark the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

The stick portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail is uphill, but it is a mild and gradual climb. The trail surface has some rocks and roots, but it is much smoother than the typical trails at Catoctin Mountain Park. The National Park Service tends to remove as much debris as possible on nature trails since they are supposed to be family-friendly.

Typical terrain along the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Typical terrain along the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

The loop portion of the trail is actually a C-shaped detour from the stick portion—you turn off the main trail at one spot and rejoin it farther down. The first turnoff for the loop comes .3 mile from the parking lot and is marked with a sign that runs parallel to the trail, which makes it easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. However, the intended route for hikers is to go past this turn and take the second one, then hike back to this point. This way the nature-oriented stops along the trail are in the same order as they appear in the Hog Rock Nature Trail brochure (though in truth, it’s not all that important).

First intersection with the loop portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

First intersection with the loop portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

You can’t miss the second turn, which is a little over a tenth of a mile farther down the trail. A large sign clearly points it out.

Second turnoff for the loop portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Second turnoff for the loop portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

The second turn is actually at Hog Rock, so you can see it whether or not you hike the loop. Don’t ask me what’s so special about it or why it is named Hog Rock. The view isn’t even that good.

View from Hog Rock at Catoctin Mountain Park

View from Hog Rock at Catoctin Mountain Park

The loop portion of the nature trail is a little narrower and has a rockier surface than the stick portion. Other than that, the terrain is fairly level and the hike is easy.

Terrain along the loop section of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Terrain along the loop section of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

When you get back to the stick, take a left to return to the parking lot. A sign—the first one you came to—points the way.

End of the loop portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

End of the loop portion of the Hog Rock Nature Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

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Last updated on January 31, 2023
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