Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park are Far Removed from Urban Plains!

Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park are located about sixty miles northwest of Washington, DC, U.S.A.

Catoctin Mountain Park
Catoctin Mountain Park, cunningham falls state park

The endless ridges rolling softly to the horizon evoke a sense of being in a mountain fastness, and the air is cooler and fresher, the sky is bigger, and trees are everywhere. Sweeping vistas from overlooks, waterfall, and wooded uplands, are some of the scenery here. Quite rooty, grass, pavement, some boardwalk, and mostly sandy or rocky trail surfaces here.

Chimney Rock/Wolf Rock Loop in Catoctin Mountain Park

From three different places, this loop can be accessed. In front of the National Park Service Headquarters, access to this loop is off of Md. 77 from the parking area. Hikers will need to pick up the trailhead twenty feet west on Md. 77 on the right hand side of the road, when parking at these parking areas. Marked by a sign that reads Chimney Rock 1.1 m / Wolf Rock 1.5 m is the trailhead.

Wolf Rock
Wolf Rock, cunningham falls state park

From the parking area at the Visitor Center is the second place to begin this loop. At the far end of the paved parking area, the trailhead starts. From the Visitor Center at the Wolf Rock Parking area, the third place hikers can access this trailhead is 1.1 miles up Park Central Road.

As the trail at times can be slippery, narrow and is steep, this loop is the most strenuous trail in the park. Follow the trail map closely because the actual trail at times can be hard to identify. A compass and trail map are good to have with you! Chimney Rock and Wolf Rock are two of the most well known rock formations at Catoctin Mountain Park.

To just take in the scenery or stop and enjoy lunch, each of these rock formations are great places. Wolf Rock has an elevation of 1,401 feet and Chimney Rock reaches a maximum elevation of 1,419 feet. A romantic hike that features time to reflect on nature's beauty and peacefulness, and opportunities to get back in touch with nature!

From the Parking Area at Park Headquarters (off Md. 77) around the loop and back, 2 Hours, 3.8 miles. From Wolf Rock Parking Area it takes about fifteen minutes and is 0.4 mile to the Visitor Center. From either the HQ Parking Area or the Wolf Rock Parking Area, this loop can be shortened by walking to Chimney and/or Wolf Rock and back. When wet, Wolf Rock can be exceptionally dangerous. Good, sturdy hiking boots are essential!

Cunningham Falls State Park

Located in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains is Cunningham Falls State Park. It has two unique and separate areas. On Route 77, the William Houck Area located three miles west of Thurmont has the camping area, falls and lake area. Off Route 15 three miles south of Thurmont, the Manor Area has the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace, camping, and the Scales and Tales Aviary.

Catoctin Mountains
Catoctin Mountains, cunningham falls state park

At Cunningham Falls State Park, outdoor activity is everywhere. Leisure opportunities like hiking, canoeing, fishing and swimming are available. There are camper cabins and campsites available for rental from April through October, for those who wish to get away for either a night or longer.

The Falls

For which the park is named, a trip to Cunningham Falls State Park would not be complete without a visit to the scenic seventy eight foot waterfall. The largest cascading waterfall in the state are Cunningham Falls! For those visitors with mobility impairments, the falls, also known as McAfee Falls, can be accessed via a boardwalk from Route 77 or a short trail from the lake area.

Cunningham Falls!
cunningham falls state park

Pet Policy

Houck Area - Pets are allowed in Bear Branch and Addison Run camp loops. Except Lower Trail to the Cunningham Falls, Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, pets are allowed on all trails. Except for sandy portion of swimming beach area, pets are allowed in lake and all day use areas after Labor Day 2011 to Memorial Day weekend 2012.

Manor Area - Pets are allowed on all trails and in the campground. Also, in the day use area pets are allowed.


From steep and rocky ascents that will challenge even the experienced hiker to flat, short hikes, the Cunningham Falls State Park trail system varies in terrain. From 0.5 mile to 7.5 miles, trail distances vary.

Catoctin Furnace Trail: 0.25 mile (No blaze) Leads to Catoctin Furnace and is a self guided trail. It has 46 steps up a stairway to cross U.S. 15 via elevated foot path.

Catoctin Furnace
Catoctin Furnace, cunningham falls state park

Lower Trail: 0.5 mile (red blaze) The easiest and shortest access to the Falls, on this easy to moderate trail. Along the way are benches and interpretive signs. Either by Cliff Trail or this trail, return to the lake.

Cliff Trail: 0.75 mile (yellow blaze) Leading to the Falls, rough terrain features strenuous hiking past rock outcrops. Either by Lower Trail or this trail, return to the lake.

Campground Trail: 0.75 mile (orange blaze) Access to the Cliff Trail this strenuous trail gives campers.

Cat Rock Trail: 1.5 miles (yellow blaze) Elevation 1,560 feet, this strenuous, steep trail leads to scenic views and Cat Rock.

Cat Rock
Cat Rock, cunningham falls state park

Bob's Hill Trail: 1.5 miles (yellow blaze) Elevation 1,765 feet, this strenuous, steep trail leads to two short spur trails with views south and north and Bob's Hill.

Old Misery Trail: 2 miles (orange blaze) Connects with the Cat Rock Trail, this strenuous, steep trail with many scenic views and switchbacks.

Old Misery Trail
Old Misery Trail, cunningham falls state park

Cat Rock/Bob's Hill: 7.5 miles (yellow blaze) This strenuous trail passes two scenic rock outcrops with scenic views and crosses the mountain.

Catoctin Trail: 27 miles (blue blaze) This strenuous trail goes from Gambrill State Park through Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls and Catoctin Mountain Park. In Cunningham Falls are nine miles of trail. Only in designated campgrounds is camping permitted.

Gambrill State Park
Gambrill State Park, cunningham falls state park

Have fun and I hope to see you on the trail!

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