Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park

Quick Facts

Catoctin Mountain Park

Maryland

(301) 663-9388

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

In the 1930's, after years of making charcoal to fuel the iron furnace, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, land was purchased to be transformed into a productive recreation area; helping to put people back to work during the great depression. Beginning in 1935, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was under construction by both the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Originally planned to provide recreational camps for federal employees, one of the camps eventually became the home of the Presidential retreat, Camp David. The Presidential retreat is not open or accessible to the public, but the eastern hardwood forest of Catoctin Mountain Park has many other attractions for visitors: camping, picnicking, fishing, 25 miles of hiking trails, scenic mountain vistas, all await your exploration.

Catoctin's diverse cultural resources provide several vignettes of the nation's history in one small location. Native Americans quarried rhyolite for the production of lithic tools. A charcoal and iron industry is still visible today, along with smaller industries including farms, sawmills, and an old moonshine still. Historic structures and products of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, along with the site of the nation's first Job Corps Center, are tangible reminders of the capability of vigorous youth programs to strengthen the nation's economic and social fabric. The totality of resources found in Catoctin Mountain Park reflects much of the early fabric of the country.

Map of Catoctin Mountain

Latitude, Longitude: 39.651185, -77.460520

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Activities

  • Camping

    Tent Camping at Owens Creek: * 50 sites (3 ADA) are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations. two comfort stations, one with hot showers. * Five people or the immediate household per site. * Pets are permitted on leash. * RVs: no hook-ups, trailers 22-foot maximum, three pull-through sites

    Cabin Camping at Misty Mount: * Rustic chestnut-beam cabins built by the WPA in 1936 offer a charming camping experience. Most cabins sleep three or four. One cabin sleeps six. Three lodges sleep eight. Cabin 16 sleeps eight and has a private restroom. Restrooms and hot showers are communal, with one in each of three cabin loops. * Amenities include picnic table, grill, fire circle, cot, mattress, electric light (no outlet), one bucket of firewood. Campers must supply bedding. * A pool is available (without lifeguard) from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

    Adirondack Shelters: * Two three-sided shelters offer back-country solitude to hike-in campers. * Open All Year. Obtain a free permit in person at the Visitor Center. * Five people per shelter. Fire rings and pit toilets are available. Permittees must be at least 18 years old. * Drinking water must be carried in and trash carried out. * Tents are not permitted except inside the shelter. Pets are prohibited.

  • Climbing

    A rock climbing permit may only be issued for Wolf Rock. All other areas within the park are closed to rock climbing and rappelling.

    The permittee may call the visitor center up to five days in advance to make a reservation for rock climbing groups. The party will pick up and sign the permit on the day they are scheduled to climb. Walk in permits are issued depending upon site availability. Climbing helmets are required. Climbing is permitted 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Limit of 25 people total (families, individuals), or one organized group not to exceed 25 member.

    Permits are not issued on weekends in October due to high visitation parkwide and are not issued during snow/ice conditions or when conditions appear to be unsafe for climbing. The National Park Service will be held harmless from any claim or liability resulting from the permitted use of the area. Climbers may be required to reimburse the United States Government for search, rescue and recovery in the case of accident or other emergency.

  • Fishing

    Flyfishing only on Big Hunting Creek. The Potomac Valley Fly Fishermen and the Maryland Fly Anglers stock Big Hunting Creek with rainbow and brook trout. Maryland DNR stocks Big Hunting Creek Lake, Frank Bentz Lake, and Owens Creek downstream from the park. Anglers will find brook, brown, and rainbow trout in Big Hunting Creek. All three species spawn in the stream.

    BIG HUNTING CREEK REGULATIONS: * Maryland fishing license and trout stamp are required. * All trout caught must be released. * A person may not use or possess any natural bait, baitfish, fishbait, scents or natural or synthetic devices capable of catching fish except artificial flies or streamers. * Only artificial flies and streamers constructed in a normal fashion using natural and/or synthetic materials on a single hook with the components wound on or about the hook. * A person may fish only with conventional fly fishing tackle. The use of spinning, spincast, and casting reels is prohibited. * Fly fishing is permitted throughout the year.

    OWENS CREEK FISHING REGULATIONS: * Put and Take Trout Fishing Area is mainstream from Raven Rock Road downstream to Roddy Road. * Maryland fishing license and trout stamp are required. * Fish only in specified seasons, check the Maryland Sportfishing Guide. * Fishing with bait is permitted. * Keep only two trout per day while fishing on park property.

  • Hiking

    East Side Trails: The east side of the park features stunning vistas, challenging terrain, and access to Cunningham Falls. Most trailheads begin at the visitor center. Parking and trailheads are also available by the park headquarters and at three points along Park Central Road.

    Shorter in Length - one mile or less round trip * Blue Ridge Summit Trail * Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail * Charcoal Trail * Hog Rock Vista Trail * Thurmont Vista Trail

    Moderate in Length - 2.5 miles to five miles round trip * Cunningham Falls Trail * Cunningham Falls/Hog Rock/Blue Ridge Summit Loop * Thurmont Vista Loop * Wolf Rock Chimney Rock Loop

    Longer in Length * 8-Mile Loop Trail

    West side trails: The west side of the park is the wilder side. Adventurous hikers are more likely to see wildlife, wetlands, and an up-close view of nature. Remnants of former farms dot the land. The park's picnic areas, campgrounds, and back-country shelters connect with the trails.

    The Catoctin Trail and the Horse Trail dominate the west side. Hikers may use the Catoctin Trail to access Cunningham Falls (approximately two miles from the Chestnut Picnic Area).

    * Brown's Farm Trail * Spicebush Trail * Horse Trail

  • Horseback Riding

    Catoctin Mountain Park offers approximately six miles of horse trails. Trailer parking is available across from the entrance to Camp Greentop. The trail is open for day use only, from April 15 through January 31 and is closed in the winter to help preserve the trail. Public riding is not permitted on any trails in the park other than the designated public horse trail. Cross-country travel, the cutting of switchbacks, and the use of other public areas is prohibited. The horse trail can challenge the abilities of all riders, novice to competitive trail rider. Riders are surrounded by the beauty of the eastern hardwood forest and will experience creek crossings, rugged mountain terrain, and may also capture a glimpse of wildlife while on the trail.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is available throughout the park.

  • Winter Sports

    Cross-country skiing is available at Catoctin Mountain. The park's snow conditions that are often significantly different from conditions in the nearby metropolitan areas. Conditions change quickly, so skiers are advised to stop at the visitor center or call before embarking on a ski adventure.

    Generally, the best skiing is along certain sections of park roads which are closed to vehicular traffic. Three to four inches of snow are needed to provide a good base. Most of the park trails are narrow, steep and rocky; but a few sections offer fair possibilities for good skiers. A minimum of six to eight inches of snow is needed for safe trail skiing. All trails are designated as foot trails, not ski trails. Use care: You are the best judge of snow conditions and of your ability.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open all year from dawn until dusk. Visitor center hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday through Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The visitor center closes Wednesdays from December through March. The visitor center closes for the following winter federal holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, President's Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.

There may be temporary security closures. These are always posted on the park's home page. Call the park visitor center for more information.

Park Partners

Eastern National

Eastern National is a cooperating association that partners with Catoctin Mountain Park. They sponsor a small bookstore in the park visitor center and make donations directly to Catoctin Mountain Park.

(877) 628-7275

Directions

Driving

From Washington DC take the George Washington Memorial Parkway north to I495 beltway to I270 north 27 miles to Frederick, Maryland. Take Route 15 17 miles north to Thurmont, Maryland. Take Route 77 west, the exit sign is marked Catoctin Mountain Park. Travel approximately three miles west on 77 and turn right onto Park Central Road. The Visitor Center is on the right.

From Baltimore, MD Take I695 beltway to I70 West to Frederick, Maryland. Take Route 15 North to Thurmont, Maryland. Take Route 77 West (the exit sign says Catoctin Mountain Park. Travel approximately three miles west on 77 and turn right onto Park Central Road. The Visitor Center is on the right.

From Hagerstown, Maryland I70 east to Route 66 north for seven miles to right on Route 64 for one mile to right onto Route 77 East at a traffic light. Continue on Route 77 East for approximately seven miles. Turn left onto Park Central Road and the Visitor Center is on the right.

From Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Route 15 south. In Thurmont, Maryland, exit onto Route 77 West (the exit sign says Catoctin Mountain Park, go approximately three miles, turn right onto Park Central Road and the Visitor Center is on the right.

Flying

Catoctin Mountain Park is approximately 1.5 hours north from Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, approximately two hours from Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, and approximately 1.5 hours west from Baltimore/Washington International Airport near Baltimore, Maryland. Hagerstown, Maryland Regional Airport is 45 minutes west of Catoctin.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(301) 663-9388

Links