Coot Peninsula Loop is a 4.2 mile popular loop trail that is simply delightful. The trail brings you through some lovely woods and then onto a peninsula (as the trail name suggests) that has you walking within sight of water on both sides, until finally the peninsula widens, like a spoon, into the Liberty Reservoir. I always delight when I discover a local hike that is not only new to me, but also really special -- this is one such hike.
Although the trail name indicates it's a loop, we treated it as an out and back, traveling along the part of the loop that keeps you mostly within sight of the reservoir.
Although the trail doesn't lead you right along the shoreline, throughout the trail, there are multiple places where you can head straight down to the water's edge, inviting you to fish, forest-bathe, or simply stand and appreciate the beauty of the place.
Other hikers have noted that there are "good, peaceful picnic/meditation spots" -- and I completely agree with that assessment. Warmer weather will definitely find me packing a picnic and taking my spouse on this hike!
The parking lot isn't huge, but it's ample, with about 10 spaces, though you could probably get creative with spots if needed. The trail head is located near a residential area, so be considerate as you drive by the homes and as you find parking.
There are a few logs in the path but nothing you can't go around, although this trail calls for ankle supporting hiking boots, as parts of the trail are very rocky. The trail splits in the middle to form a loop around the peninsula.
Liberty Reservoir is a reservoir west of Baltimore, Maryland; about a mile north of Patapsco Valley State Park's McKeldin area. The 9,200-acre Liberty Reservoir tract, owned by the City of Baltimore, protects the reservoir. The area is open to hiking, rowing or paddle boating, bird watching, horseback riding and nature photography year-round, and for archery hunting during a regulated season.
I especially enjoyed the several elevation gains, that were just enough to get the heart pumping; total elevation gain was just under 500 feet and the elevation changes aren't all in the same place, so it really isn't strenuous.
This makes a nice winter hike because of the near constant water views through the trees -- likely a lot less visible when trees are fully leafed out. But spring would be fun, when the mountain laurel -- or where they rhododendrons? -- are in bloom.
Despite living nearby, this is the first time I've explored some of the hiking around Liberty Reservoir, but I can guarantee I'll be back.
Getting there: 2598-2558 Bollinger Mill Rd, Finksburg, MD
Hours: Dawn through dusk.