Catoctin Mountain Park
Mountain Park, Thurmont Maryland
Length.- 8.7 or 10. 6 mi.
Elevation Change: Approx. 1200 ft
USGS Quad: Blue Ridge Summit, MD
Map available at Visitor Center
The trails for this hike are located within the boundaries of Catoctin
Mountain Park with the exception of a side trail leading to Cunningham Falls in
the state park of that name. (Dogs are not allowed on the trail to the
falls.) They are wide, blazed and well-maintained but rocky in many parts.
The extension to Cat Rock is also in Cunningham Falls State Park (dogs OK
Most of this area was clear-cut in the 1800s for making charcoal to
fuel nearby Catoctin Iron Furnace. The beginning of the hike follows a
self-guiding nature trail, then makes a side trip to Cunningham Falls. Although
most of the hiking is through deciduous woods, this area changes abruptly to
evergreen upon crossing the road to the falls.
From the falls the trail
returns to Catoctin Park and climbs the ridge for the first in a series of
rocky overlooks. Hog Rock takes its name from the days of the early settlers
when hogs gathered there to eat nuts in the fall. Since this was the ideal time
for slaughter, it was very convenient for the farmers to go there to catch
their fattened pigs. Next comes Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, then Thurmont Vista
Overlook with a view of the town of Thurmont, Wolf Rock, named for a rock
formation resembling a wolf's head and Chimney Rock with its rock chimney. The
greenish rock formations at Cunningham Falls and along Hog Rock Trail are
Catoctin greenstone while those at Wolf and Chimney rocks are Weverton
hike may be lengthened by adding the Cat Rock loop. Cat Rock can also be done
as an independent, up- and-back hike of 3 miles.
I-495 to 1-270; 1-270 north to US 15 near Frederick, MD; US 15
north to MD 77 near Thurmont; MD 77 west about 3 mi. to Catoctin Mountain Park
Visitor Center on right.
Travel Distance- 52 mi.
in lot to left of visitor Center. Follow sign, in far comer of lot, to
junction and sign for Cunningham Falls; turn left and cross road to falls (No
1.4 Cunningham Falls; retrace steps across road and
follow sign to Hog Rock.
Rock Overlook, elevation 1620 ft; Monocacy Valley below. When you leave
overlook, bear right. Left fork is self-guided nature trail.
3.1 Cross Park Central Rd and continue through picnic
area; pass trail on right and shortly curve to right on well-worn path.
trail goes left to Blue Ridge Summit Overlook.
cross trail; turn left to Thurmont Vista. (Right goes to Park Central Rd,
straight to Visitor Center.)
in trail; bear right.
4.5 Thurmont Vista Overlook.
junction; continue straight to Wolf Rock.(Trail right goes to Park
Rock; interesting rocks but no view. (Caution.- Deep crevices both he.-e and
at Chimney Rock) Return to main trail and turn left.
to Park Headquarters; continue straight ahead to Chimney Rock with excellent
view. Cat Rock is visible on ridge directly opposite. Return to main trail and
turn right (sign to Park Headquarters).,
for MD 77 and Crow's Nest (campground); turn right, downhill.
right trail, uphill, to Park Central Rd. Left goes to Park Headquarters. (See
below for extension to Cat Rock.) Ascend ridge and pass turn-off to Wolf Rock.
junction; follow signs to Visitor Center.
Cat Rock Extension.
This extension adds about 1.9 miles to the mileage and climbs to
another outstanding rock outcrop. The 500 ft climb is well-graded and not much
more than that required on the above return.
downhill, to Park Headquarters.
Headquarters. Cross road to Cat Rock parking area. Ascend yellow-blazed Cat
8.3 Pass orange-blazed trail. Return here for descent.
8.6 Cat Rock; main overlook immediately to right. North
and South overlooks a few hundred feet on side trails. Retrace steps to
left and descend steeply on orange-blazed trail.
right onto Catoctin Hollow Road.
right onto MD 77 and left into Visitor Center.