Wolf Rock is a 1.5 mile hike from the Visitor Center. It is a interesting place of boulders, crevices, and rock walls. There is no view from the summit but the rocks and crevices are why you come here!
Catoctin is part of the ancient Appalachian Mountains that were formed 250 million years ago. Geologically speaking, these mountains are very old and worn due to erosion over time.
In the eastern half of the park at Chimney Rock and Wolf Rock, the rocks have been metamorphosed into a hard, weather-resistant rock called quartzite. This area is part of the Weverton Formation. The Weverton Formation, named for its formation near the town of Weverton, is the main ridge-making formation in the eastern mountains in Maryland. The formation is composed of quartz cemented together by a secondary, less developed quartz.
There are rattlesnakes (timber and copperheads) in the area so be careful!
map Trailhead sign
Trailhead: The trailhead is located in the Catoctin Mountain National Park. To reach the trailhead take route 15 towards Thurmont where you will pick up 77 West. You will see the entrance for the park approximately 2.5 miles on the right. Proceed to the Visitor Center at the intersection of Park Central Road. The trail is in the corner of the parking area. None of the trails have blazes but they are easy to follow and are well signed at all intersections.
Leaving the parking lot the trail climbs steadily. At .6 miles a trail junction comes in from the right. Take the trail to the right .5 miles (this section is pretty steep) to another trail intersection and then turn right .3 miles to Wolf Rock. The first sign to Wolf Rock here is at the base of the rocks, the only way to summit from here is up the rock wall, or through one of the many crevices. If you continue down the trail a little ways another sign for Wolf Rock is seen. From this sign there is a trail that leads up onto the rock formation. Be careful as there are many deep crevices and there are also rattlesnakes umong the rocks.
King and Queen of Wolf Rock
A permit is needed to rock climb, see below!
Camping is allowed only at one of the parks camping areas. Please see here
for camping details.
The rock wall
A rock climbing permit may only be issued for Wolf Rock. All other areas within the park are closed to rock climbing and rappelling.
The permittee may call the Visitor Center up to 5 days in advance to make a reservation for rock climbing groups. The party will pick up and sign the permit on the day they are scheduled to climb. Walk in permits are issued depending upon site availability. Climbing helmets are required. Climbing is permitted 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Limit of 25 people total (families, individuals), or 1 organized group not to exceed 25 member.
Permits are not issued on weekends in October due to high visitation parkwide and are not issued during snow/ice conditions or when conditions appear to be unsafe for climbing. The National Park Service will be held harmless from any claim or liability resulting from the permitted use of the area. Climbers may be required to reimburse the United States Government for search, rescue and recovery in the case of accident or other emergency.
Combine this trip with Chimney Rock
by continuing along the trail a short distance south. After visiting Chimney Rock I would suggest retracing your steps back down. However you can continue along the trail and make a loop. The problem with the loop is you hike down the mountain and then hike back up to get back to the trail to the parking area.