Frederick, Maryland: A Wonderful Day Trip from DC

Having a rare free weekend day that was actually sunny in the winter, we wanted to just go for a drive somewhere interesting with a lot to see. After some research, we decided on Frederick, Maryland area since it was within an hour drive and seemed to have a lot of charm with covered bridges, several state parks and other interesting finds.

When we saw the photos of the covered bridges (there are three!), we knew that was our first destination. The signage around the covered bridges is very clearly marked and all the bridges were easy to find.

Utica Mill Covered Bridge

We could actually just set Utica Mills Covered Bridge in our GPS app (we like WAZE), and we set off to see it. The Utica Mills Coverage bridge 101 ft long and is very well maintained. There isn’t a lot of parking there, but when we went through it, there was a little concrete pad on the right side that looks like it used to be part of a driveway that we parked (good for a quick stop) and walked over to the bridge to take photos.

The bridge definitely has a story. It was actually part of the 250 foot/two span Devilbliss Road Covered Bridge that crossed the Monocacy River. In 1889, a flood severely damaged the bridge and some of the original bridge was able to be saved. It was moved and reconstructed in its current location a few years later. Because of the original wood that was used from the old bridge, the date on the bridge has been able to be kept from the original structure. There have been more than a couple of efforts to fix and refurbish the bridge due to damage from trucks – one in 1993 and another in 2006 and just keeping it well maintained. It looks beautiful now.

Utica Mills Covered Bridge

It is an easy bridge to walk around and it looks great in photos. This would be especially pretty in the snow.

Utica Mills Bridge

Loy Station Covered Bridge

Our next stop was the Loy Station Covered Bridge. This was right next to a very cute park with a playground, bathrooms, and a nice size parking lot. If you have kids with you, this is a great stop (Utica Mills would be a little harder with kids).

The original bridge was built in 1848 and was 90 ft long. It has been modified and reinforced over the years. The bridge is in the town of Loys, and there was a train stop at one time in this town so it became the Loys Station Covered Bridge. There are some stories of this bridge being used during the battle of Gettysburg.

In 1991, the bridge was set on fire believed to be arson. The bridge was rebuilt due to fundraising in the community in 1994 and includes some of the original hardware from the bridge before the fire.

Loys Station Covered Bridge
Inside Loys Station Covered Bridge
The Loys Station Park sign with the bridge in the background

Roddy Road Covered Bridge

Our last bridge was the Roddy Road Covered Bridge. This one was much smaller than the other two since it was about 39ft long. There is a small park with a parking lot and a swing set. This part of the creek that this bridge is over is very pretty, and the parking lot spans a good part of the creek.

The current bridge was rebuilt in 2017, but the original bridge was a little bit longer and has some history with the Gettysburg battle during the Civil War. The original bridge was refurbished over the years until 2016 when a 2 oversized truck damaged the bridge to the point where it could not be fixed so it had to be rebuilt.

This was my personal favorite bridge since the park was really pretty with the creek and would be pretty in the summer or covered in snow.

Roddy Road Covered Bridge
Side of Roddy Road Covered Bridge
Roddy Road park sign
Expanse of the creek next to the park

Cunningham Falls State Park

After our adventure looking at the covered bridges, we headed to Cunningham Falls State Park. We wanted to see the waterfall and do some short hiking.

We happened to get there in the middle of the Maple Syrup Festival which was so much fun to see. There were demonstrations of making the syrup, food products for sale, and just fun to walk around.

Demonstration of making maple syrup during the Maple Syrup Festival

Cunningham Falls State Park has several trails with varying difficulty, a lake with a beach, and a very pretty water fall to see. When you park in the lot, you will be close to the beach. Since it was late winter when we visited, the beach was very deserted, but I have seen photos in the summer when there are many people sitting/picnicking on the beach which would be a great spot for lunch.

We did the falls trail first. IT was a pretty easy trail that you could navigate in regular walking shoes, and it was fairly short. It ends in a boardwalk with a viewing area for some nice photos. It was sad to see people ignoring the signs and climbing the falls, but there were definitely several groups that were on the falls. The boardwalk area was very serene.

Falls trail up to Cunningham Falls

We chose the Cliff trail to go back which was longer and difficult. We were wearing boots, and I would recommend them since it was very slippery and steep at times (in a very short span). Once you were past the steep parts, it was a fairly flat and easy to walk trail.

Cliff Trail

There were some unusual things to see – windy downed trees and very large rocks, and overall, it was a really nice trail.

Other Gems

Wonder Book & Video store

The Wonder Book & Video store was definitely a stop on our trip to Frederick. We had heard of this store before – had great reviews and write-ups on various sites and wanted to see it for ourselves. It did not disappoint us. It was very large with books (used and some new), (DVD/Blue-rays) both new and used (for sale and rent), vinyl records, and rare books. We collect DVDs and Bluerays so going through their extensive inventory (shelves and shelves) of movies/shows was so much fun. I could have spent hours in that store and ended up finding about 6 movies that we didn’t have yet.

I would highly recommend a stop at this store during your visit to Frederick.

Going to Frederick, MD was a fun day, and we packed a whole days worth of activities and could have done more hiking and more exploring with the shops. We definitely plan on going back.

References

The following websites were valuable for lots of information about our trip to Frederick, MD

  • https://www.visitfrederick.org/
  • http://www.mdcoveredbridges.com/utica.html
  • http://www.mdcoveredbridges.com/loys.html
  • http://www.mdcoveredbridges.com/roddyroad.html
  • http://www.wonderbk.com/


 

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