Fall is settling in nicely here in Frederick County and there is still plenty of outdoor activity left to be had. This weekend's weather is shaping up to be the perfect fall weekend, so why not take the opportunity to do the Frederick Covered bridge tour. I've been doing the tour every season since I moved here 3 years ago and I am of the opinion that fall is the best season to visit the bridges. That said I am sure there are other opinions out there, but honestly any time is a good time to visit the bridges. I recently discovered there is a small covered bridge in Baker Park so I usually start there. You can take the Rosemont Ave exit off of US Rt 15 and then take your immediate right on to 2nd street and park by Culler Lake. From there you can walk down the stairs and over to the path along Carroll Creek which takes you right to the spot. Sit there as long as you wish, watch and listen to the birds while the tranquil Carrol Creek strolls along past you.
From there the next stop is The Utica Mills Covered Bridge Circa 1850 in Thurmont. Head back to Rt. 15 and go north about 6 miles and veer right onto Old Frederick Rd. Drive north, cross over Devilbiss Bridge rd and continue until you come to Utica Rd and take a left. This one is tricky as it is mostly surrounded by private property but there are 2 small pull offs after you pass under the bridge you can park there and walk around. On a nice day you might see the cows out in the pasture or someone cruising by on a bicycle as it tends to be a busy road for bicyclists.
When finished at Utica Mills your next stop should be The Loys Station Covered Bridge (circa 1880) at Loys Station Park which is also off of Old Frederick Rd just a short 6.7 mile (11 minutes) trip north of Utica Mills. On this drive you will pass horse farms with rolling pastures, old barns and silos, and you will have stunning views of the Catoctin Mountains off in the distance. At Loys Station they've built a beautiful park where you can walk around and do some birding or other types of exploring along the edges of Owens Creek. They've also added in picnic benches and restrooms which are most welcome additions.
After you've spent your time at Loys Station your next and final stop is my favorite of them all the Roddy Rd Covered Bridge built in 1856 which also crosses Owens Creek. Leaving Loys you will continue North on Old Frederick and make a left on Rocky Ridge Rd (also Rt 77). Travel on 77 for a few minutes until you come to Graceham rd and make a right. Travel on Graceham until you come to the T and make a right on Roddy Rd, travel on Roddy until you come to the bridge. At Roddy rd you will find a newly constructed park with picnic benches and restrooms for those that may want to spend a little more time there. If you're into fishing bring along your gear as MDDNR has just stocked Owens Creek with Rainbow and Brown Trout (DNR Stocking Info). Birding is also amazing in this area as I have seen Great Blue Heron, Eagles, and Pileated Woodpeckers so be sure to bring your binoculars along if you love birding.
When your Frederick Covered Bridge tour has come to a conclusion you are only minutes away from a few other fun things to do in Frederick County. If you didn't bring a picnic lunch and are hungry you can head to Shamrock Irish American dining for some Irish Shepherds Pie and a cold beer. If you like wines you can head to Catoctin Breeze Vinyard for a tour and some wine tasters and just minutes away. If you're into Antiques there are a handful of Antique stores within minutes of Roddy Rd. If you are into hiking you are only minutes from Cunningham Falls State Park with several hiking trails to choose from. If you're into Apple Orcharding you have Pryors Orcard and Catoctin Mountain Orchard also within minutes of the bridge. No matter what you will choose to do after makes for a lovely fall afternoon driving and walking around Frederick County.
Whenever I take the tour I try and make it about more than just the Bridges, while they are beautiful in their own right there are so many other things to explore while visiting the bridges hence fishing, birding, hiking, etc..... The sky is the limit on the Frederick Covered Bridge Tour. I hope to see you out there this weekend.