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Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont

(4/5 based on 200+ reviews on the web)
Cunningham Falls State Park is a publicly owned recreation area located on Catoctin Mountain to the west of Thurmont, Maryland, United States. The state park is the home of 78ft Cunningham Falls, the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland. Other park features include a 43acre man-made lake and the remains of the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace. The park is bordered on the north by the National Park Service's Catoctin Mountain Park.HistoryThe Catoctin Mountain area around Cunningham Falls is rich in local history. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans hunted and fished the area. The area was also quarried by Native Americans for rhyolite to make projectile points. During the 19th century, settlers began to cut down the forests around the area to make charcoal to power the Catoctin iron furnace. The charcoal flats can still be seen in the park. The "charcoal flats" are approximately 25by square areas cut flat into the hillsides and linked by mule trails. They were used to build charcoal kilns. Over, two hundred years of clearcutting and abuse of the forest led to the destruction of the land.In the 1930s, after years of making charcoal, to fuel nearby iron furnaces, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, land was purchased by the Federal government, 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. The northern portion of the park was transferred to the National Park Service on November 14, 1936, and renamed and reorganized on July 12, 1954, with the southern 5000acre transferred to Maryland as Cunningham Falls State Park.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Seeing this never grows old. I visit every time I get the chance. There is no parking. You must hike from the visitor center but I must say it is an easy and relaxing hike.  more »
  • Must see. Go to the aviary. It is wonderful there. the rangers are friendly and knowledgeable. There are wonderful places to have a quiet picnic.  more »
  • I took my son to this hike and he enjoyed every single step. He had a great time together the views, the waterfalls, everything conspires to make your day amazing.  more »
Google
  • Cunningham Falls boasts a myriad of activities. For the adventurous climbing the falls rewards you with amazing views. For the young at heart, spend an afternoon at the tire park or a weekend at the campgrounds. The beach, honestly is a bit off putting. To side of the beach(to the right of your facing the water) is an area that is muddy and mucky and I just can't delude myself enough into ignoring the fact that it is attached to the same body of water that I'm supposed to be swimming in. Aside from this Cunningham falls is beautiful and well worth the trip.
  • No one should be surprised if it is going to be his/her first visit in the Cunningham Falls State Park. It definitely worth visiting for once specially hiking the rocky trails. But it may not be the best place if you intend to see the falls, swim in the lake, bbq, etc. Swimming in the lake is not usually allowed after the labor day every year. So anyone intending to visit the place in the summer should keep in mind that swimming in the lake will not be permitted after the labor day. I personally recommend this place for families which allows the kids explore the lake beach, scenic views of the wooded mountains, going on short hikes and stick around the family bbq area.
  • This is a fantastic hike for the whole family! You can choose the easier hiking trail, or take one of the others and be a bit more adventurous! The lake is so nice to relax in!
  • Good trails but if going in the middle of summer prepare for a crowd around the Falls. Also, very little water trickling down the falls, either because of the lack of rain, time of season, or high temperatures. Recommend for a nice hike. Keep in mind some of the trails are much more difficult than others but the trail to the falls is doable for all.
  • We wanted to take our dogs somewhere that they could enjoy the outdoors. The lake was beautiful, a little crowded though. We were stopped short by a thunderstorm, so the staff advised everyone to exit the water and surroundings so we decided to leave. Will definitely be returning for some fun and sun.