The Maryland Department of Agriculture started the Maryland Ice Cream Trail in 2012 in order to promote family owned farms. The trail features farms from every corner of the state. The Ice Cream Trail has become a very important source of income to these farms. I recently visited several of them, all clustered in Northwest Maryland not too far from Frederick. Worth the drive? You bet.
First stop was Woodbourne Creamery/Rock Hill Orchard located inside Rock Hill Orchard in Mt Airy, at the northern tip of Montgomery County. Woodbourne is the creation of the husband and wife team of John and Mary Fendrick, who bought Rock Hill in 2010 and moved their herd of Guernsey cows there. In 2013, they started selling ice cream made with milk from these grass-fed cows. “Cow to Cone” is their motto. As it happens, Mary received ice cream training from Penn State Creamery, of which I recently wrote about. When Woodbourne Creamery opened, it was the first new creamery in the county in 60 years.
Woodbourne has18 flavors to choose from. The seasonal flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin, and Rock the Red Velvet. My companion and I both ordered a cup with two scoops. I had Dark Chocolate, one of their best sellers, and Rock the Red Velvet. The chocolate had a strong chocolate taste, but I would not describe it as intense. I’m not sure what flavor the Red Velvet was, but it had a reddish color and there was bits of cake mixed in. It was quite good. My companion had Black Raspberry and Sweet Guernsey Cream. The Black Raspberry had a strong berry taste. The Sweet Guernsey is an interesting ice cream as it is unflavored, made from just the cream and a little sugar. When you are getting ice cream straight from the cow, this is the flavor to get. All their ice cream flavors are quite good. And you cannot get it any fresher.
There are things to do at Rock Hill Orchid besides eating ice cream. This includes several “pick your own” options. The items available that day were apples, pumpkins, and flowers. It is a small operation, so reservations have to be made in advance. But this makes it less crowded than other “pick your own” farms in the area. Rock Hill also has a corn maze, but due to a recent rain it was not open during our visit. They expected it to open soon.
Rocky Point Creamery
Second stop was Rocky Point Creamery in southern Frederick County close to the Virginia border (and not far from West Virginia, either!) The farm has been a family business since 1883 and is currently owned and operated by Chuck Fry and his wife Paula. It wasn’t until 2012 that they decided to open a creamery and sell their own home made ice cream.
Their web site mentions having 80 flavors, but there was 22 available the day of our visit. I expect the flavors rotate with the seasons. Options included the standards – Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry — and specialty flavors such as Caramel Apple, Banana Puddin’, and Hazelnut Coffee Swirl.
I ordered a scoop of Peanut Butter Oreo and a scoop of the Cherry Vanilla. Both were delicious. The Peanut Butter had a strong PB taste and lots of big chunks of Oreos, many of which had somehow managed to stay crunchy. The Cherry Vanilla likewise had a good cherry flavor and big chunks of cherries.
My companion had a scoop of Salted Carmel Pretzel and a scoop of Chocolate Chocolate Chip. The Salted Carmel has top quality caramel and the pretzel gave it a nice crunch. The Chocolate Chip has a rich chocolate flavor and is filled with chips. All of Rocky Point’s ice creams are very rich and creamy.
The farm also boasts a large sunflower field that was in bloom while we were there. It is one of the best places in Maryland to see sunflowers.
There is also a small playground featuring slides made from old farm equipment. Perfect for kids of all ages to play on. The farm is also near the Point of Rocks Community Commons which has a good trail for jogging or hiking as well as a boat ramp for access to the Potomac. There is a lot to do in this area.
South Mountain Creamery
Heading north took us to South Mountain Creamery, nestled in the ridges of the mountain for which it is named. The creamery is famous for reviving the storied tradition of delivering bottles of milk right to your home.
Randy and Karen Sowers started South Mountain in 1981 with grass fed and pasture raised cows. The herd now numbers over 600. The farm is still family run with three generations working there. The milk deliveries started in 2001. I don’t know when South Mountain started making ice cream, but in 2013 they started selling it at the Great Frederick Fair so for at least a decade.
On the day we were there, South Mountain had a little over a dozen to choose from. Noteworthy options are: Pumpkin, Grapenut, Gingerbread Cookie, and Apple Pie. Afterwards, when talking to a friend about this trip, he raved about the Apple Pie flavor. Had I known that beforehand, I would have tried it. Instead, I had the Snappy Pumpkin. This is a pumpkin flavored iced cream with gingersnap crumbs mixed in. This has a strong pumpkin flavor and the crumbs, also strongly flavored, provide a good contrast.
My companion ordered the Monocacy Mud, a dark chocolate flavored ice cream with salted caramel and pecans. The name is a reference to the nearby Monocacy River, but that was not the direct inspiration for the flavor.
The flavor debuted in July 2019 and was designed to be the official ice cream flavor of the city of Frederick. Inspired by German Chocolate Cake, it reflects the German heritage of the area. After the flavor’s debut, patrons voted on a name with the winner announced at the Great Frederick Fair the following September. Monocacy Mud won. Another leading contender was Schifferstadt Smash, a reference to Frederick’s sister city in Germany. No matter the name, chocolate ice cream with caramel and nuts is a fantastic combination.
There is plenty to do on the farm besides eating ice cream. There is a small playground with swings and slides. And the barns are right there, so you can watch a cow being milked right before your eyes. If that is not enough, you can stop in the calf barn and feed the calves yourself. South Mountain provides a unique and fun experience for the whole family.
Misty Meadow Farm Creamery
Last, but not least, was Misty Meadows Farm Creamery located in the town of Smithsburg in northern Frederick County, just south of the Pennsylvania border.
The farm is owned by David Herbst and was started on land purchased in 1918 by his grandparents Raymond and Mary Herbst. It has grown in area since then through the purchase of neighboring farms. With David’s children now helping run the farm, four generations of Herbst’s have worked on the farm.
Misty Meadows started selling ice cream around 2005, utilizing the knowledge David’s daughter Jeni gained with a degree in dairy science from Delaware Valley College.
Their ice cream has just 5 ingredients: sugar, their own milk, stabilizer, and powdered milk. The milk comes from their herd of 300 cows, mostly Holsteins. They have other items for sale, including eggs, milk, cheese, and several pork and beef products. In addition to their market at the farm, their products can also be found at local Farmer’s markets. Look for them in Fairfax, Virginia on Saturdays.
Misty Meadows has over 50 flavors of iced cream, rotated seasonally. The menu had 25 flavors and several sorbets, although a couple had sold out. Notable items include Granny’s Crumbs, Black Walnut, and Almond Coconut Chocolate Swirl. Seasonal flavors include Apple Strudel and Orange Pineapple. They certainly have some unique choices.
I went with one of their seasonal offerings, the Lemon Cookie, and one of their regular, the Dizzy Cow. The Lemon Cookie tasted exactly like a lemon cookie, which I found pretty amazing. It was a little too sweet for me, but that is a personal preference. It is very well made. The Dizzy Cow is a biscotti ice cream with chocolate crumbs mixed in. I was a little disappointed in it, as I was hoping for more chocolate.
My companion also ordered one of the seasonal items, White Chocolate Raspberry, and one regular, the Butter Pecan. The White Chocolate has a raspberry ice cream base with whole white chocolate chips and raspberry bits mixed in. The Butter Pecan has candied pecans along with an intense butterscotch tasted. My companions favorite was the Butter Pecan, but both were excellent.
Misty Meadows also has things to do on the farm in addition to the ice cream. The website indicates they do farm tours, but I did not see any signs for that. But there is a large play area which includes slides and a bumper car – like arena containing small peddle driven tractors. The farm normally has a corn maze but that was cancelled this year. However there was a small maze, in a sunflower field. They also have a small animal area near the playground, which looked like it was for visitors.
Not on the trail, but
The Little Red Barn is not on the Ice Cream Trail, but we saw it as we were driving from Rocky Point to South Mountain Creamery. So of course we had to stop for their ice cream.
It is located in the heart of Jefferson MAryland at the intersection of Lander Rd and the town’s main street, Jefferson Pike. The building itself is a 100 year old barn, renovated by local dentist Laura Kaler and her husband Price. Opening for business in September 2013, the Little Red Barn quickly became a local institution.
In addition to ice cream, they have a variety of salads and sandwiches on the menu. They also had a special “for Fair Week” of Pulled Pork BBQ sandwiches. I have no idea what fair this was referring to.
But we were there for ice cream. Little Red Barn has two kinds.: South Mountain and Hershey’s. As we were on our way to South Mountain, my companion and I decided to get Hershey’s. As Hershey Pennsylvania is not that far across the border, it is still a somewhat local product. Little Red Barn has 20 flavors of Hershey to choose from. Notable items are Graham Central Station, Butter Brittle Crunch, and Deep Dish Apple Pie.
I got the Midnight Caramel River. This is a mixture of vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream, with large swaths of caramel running through. It is quite decadent.
My companion ordered the Black Cherry. This consisted of cherry flavored ice cream with large chunks of cherries mixed in. It too was quite good. In order to lighten the amount of ice cream that we ate, we both decided to get only one scoop here. However, at Little Red Barn, this one scoop has almost as much ice cream as the two scoops we were getting elsewhere. So our plan to keep it light did not work out.
One cool thing they have at Little Red Barn is a roulette wheel. If you spin the wheel and it lands on the cow, you get a scoop for free. My companion spun the wheel and stopped on the cow! So we got the Black Cherry for free.
Due to the pandemic, indoor seating at the barn was closed. There is a small amount of outdoor tables and plenty of benches to sit at. It’s a fun little place. I’m glad we took the time to stop.