Two kinds of outings many of us are seeking these days are activities outdoors with space to social distance and dining outside that’s family-friendly and heated. And when you easily can combine both into one adventure, well, that’s like hitting the Covid day trip jackpot.
We experienced such luck a little while back the day after Thanksgiving. I got the best tip from a friend about The Comus Inn, a newly renovated restaurant (and more) just down the street from Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, MD. Her family had recently gone for a hike then stopped for a bite after, and she raved about the fantastic time they had there.
Hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain wasn’t new to us, but we usually paired it with a visit to the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, also a short drive down the road from the park. We’re always up for something new, though, especially when it comes as a very enthusiastic recommendation.
Sugarloaf Mountain, in Montgomery County about 10 miles south of Frederick, is a great place to go for a family hike. If you’re with older kids or avid hikers, you can start at the base and opt for an seven-mile loop up and down the mountain. With younger children, or if you just want a shorter, easier jaunt, you can drive farther up to the East View parking area, where several trails to hop on are nearby. A couple of good ones are the white trail, which winds around and ascends gradually to the summit, and the orange trail that is a steeper, more direct climb up. Drive a little further to the West View parking areas for more, similar options. However you go, you’re guaranteed great views on the way and at the top.
On this trip, we met up with friends and opted for the orange trail. While all of us parents followed the route, the kids went off-trail and scrambled up a hill and over rocks, but we all met at the summit. It’s a large area, so you can enjoy the scenery and climb outer rocks. There are no big drop offs, but it’s always a good idea to make sure kids aren’t doing anything precarious, of course. You can also bring along a picnic and, if it’s not crowded, enjoy it on some of the large rocks along with sweeping views. There are also picnic tables near the parking areas. However, I highly recommend saving snack time for après hike…
The Comus Inn is part of what made this whole adventure special. The family-friendly community recreation and entertainment destination (as they describe it) could be an outing in itself. There is a lovely outdoor dining area with long wooden tables and smaller round ones, string lighting for added charm and ambiance, and more seating around a fountain and in the nearby expanse of grass. Tall heaters are placed throughout for warmth. The menu has everything from snacks and starters to entrees with something for every palate, plus beer and wine and coffeehouse selections. The bonus: Fun games available to play — shuffleboard, corn hole, and ping pong. And all of it is surrounded by gorgeous scenery.
Our large group walked right in and got seated, but I’m guessing that won’t be so easy as word gets out about The Comus Inn. Unfortunately, they do not take reservations, but if there aren’t any tables readily available, it’s a pretty awesome place to have to wait.
The Comus Inn is located at 23900 Old Hundred Road in Dickerson, MD. Hours are 7-11am and 4-8pm Thursday & Friday, and 7am – 8pm Saturday & Sunday.
Sugarloaf Mountain is located at 7901 Comus Road in Dickerson, MD, just over an hour drive from DC. Park ours are 8am – sunset. Admission is a suggested donation of $5/vehicle.