Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park

Winter Activities

Seasonal Road Closures

Manahan Road Closed for the Winter Season from 12:00 noon, November 23

Manahan Road, located in Catoctin Mountain Park, Thurmont, Maryland, will close to vehicle traffic at noon, Friday, November 23. The gravel section north of the intersection with Park Central Road closes each year in late November. With an average elevation of 1500 feet, this area usually receives more freezing precipitation than any other area of the park. Closing the road during winter substantially reduces the need for gravel replacement on the historic roadway, preserves the adjacent native plant environment, and enhances visitor safety while allowing opportunities for cross-country skiing and sledding.

The Poplar Grove Tenting Area on Manahan Road remains open during the closure providing youth groups with the opportunity to test their fitness by backpacking supplies in and out of camp. Day hikers benefit as the absence of vehicle traffic increases the likelihood of observing deer and other wildlife.

Manahan will reopen to vehicle traffic in March 2008, as weather conditions permit.

Park Central Road Closes for the Winter Season on Saturday, December 22

Portions of Park Central Road, located in Catoctin Mountain Park, Thurmont, Maryland, will close to vehicle traffic at noon, Saturday, December 22, 2007. The 2½ mile section of road on the east side of the park beginning at the Visitor Center and ending at the 1800' elevation is closed each year in mid-December. Park Central Road between Manahan and Foxville-Deerfield Road will also close. Closing roads when visitation is low and freezing precipitation often occurs increases visitor safety and reduces maintenance costs. Weather conditions can vary drastically over the 700-foot elevation change from the Visitor Center to Hog Rock Parking Area. Precipitation that falls as rain at the Visitor Center often changes to ice or snow in less than 1 mile driving distance.

The usable life of Park Central Road is extended and the road surface remains in better condition since this portion of the road, which is designed and built for light vehicle traffic does not suffer the negative environmental impacts of plowing snow. Vegetation along road shoulders and in nearby woods benefits as the pH of soil and the balance of nutrients is not altered by the run-off from road salts. The availability of the road for winter recreation also results from the closure. Many casual hikers who would not otherwise use park trails find the road to be an ideal place to hike and enjoy nature. When there is sufficient snow, Park Central Road provides the beginner with an excellent location to learn cross-country skiing, providing a large area devoid of trees and other obstacles.

The dramatic elevation change beginning at the Thurmont Vista Parking Lot challenges the more advanced skier with a strenuous climb heading toward the Hog Rock Parking Lot. Most find the effort well spent as they enjoy near downhill skiing conditions when making the return trip.

Park Central Road and Manahan Road will reopen to vehicle traffic in March as weather conditions permit. Please direct questions regarding the status of these roads to the Visitor Center at (301) 663-9388.

 

Cross Country Skiing

There are a number of places in the park which, when the weather cooperates, afford good skiing for the beginner and intermediate. Catoctin Mountain has snow conditions that are often significantly different from conditions in the nearby metropolitan areas. Conditions change quickly, so skiers are advised to phone (301) 663-9388, or to stop at the Visitor Center 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.

Neither roads or trails are groomed or broken by machines.

Ski Rentals: Equipment is available for rent in Frederick, Knoxville and other large cities. Check in the yellow page listings for specialty shops, sporting goods, and outdoor shops. There are no equipment rentals in Catoctin Mountain Park or in Thurmont, MD.