CUNNINGHAM FALLS STATE PARK

​PLEASE NOTE:
All fireworks are prohibited in Cunningham Falls State Park. This includes but is not limited to; aerial & ground fireworks, firecrackers, noise making and smoke producing devices.

Per Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) - 08.07.06.22

Highlights

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Park Reservations
1-888-432-CAMP (2267)
Fees and Hours of Operation
Park Passes
En español


Cunningham Falls State Park​
14039 Catoctin Hollow Road
Thurmont, MD 21788

Cunningham Falls Public Program Calendar​




Information: 301-271-7574​
Email Cunningham Falls State Park
8 a.m. to Sunset, April-October
10 a.m. to Sunset, November-March​

Section3

Welcome​!

Cunningham Falls by Mark Spurrier
Photo by Mark Spurrier

​​Cunningham Falls State Park is located in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains. It is divided into two separate but unique areas. The William Houck Area, located three miles west of Thurmont on Route 77, has the lake area, falls and camping area. Leisure opportunities include swimming, hiking, fishing and canoeing. Campsites and camper cabins are available from April until October. The Manor Area off Route 15, three miles south of Thurmont, has the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace​.

​Cell Phone Service: Please do not rely on cell phones for communication while in the park! Many carriers do not get service in the Catoctin Mountains.

The Unofficial 2023 Cunningham Falls & Gambrill State Parks Brochure
https://issuu.com/fredericknews-post/docs/cunninghamgambrillrecguide-2024 ​(Takes you away from the DNR website)​

Details about the Park​

Information​

 

Cunningham Falls State Park Information

Location:
Frederick County
Cunningham Falls State Park Lake Area & Falls:
14274 William Houck Dr. Thurmont, MD 21788

Cunningham Falls William Houck Area Campground & Camp Office:
5783 Campground Dr. Thurmont, MD 21788

Cunningham Falls Manor Area & Manor Area Campground:
6709 Cunningham Falls Park Rd. Thurmont, MD 21788

Administration Building:
14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd. Thurmont, MD 21788

Note: Please be advised that Campsites M1-M31 are located at the Manor Area Campground (6709 Cunningham Falls Park Rd. Thurmont, MD 21788). Please use this address instead of the main park address as they are two separate areas of the park. Camping permits will also be provided at this location.

Contact:
​301-271-7574​
E-mail Cunningham Falls State Park
Accessibility:

  • Accessible fishing pier located at the William Houck Area
  • Accessible campsites in Deer Spring campground loop of William Houck Area
  • All campground bathhouses are accessible
  • Accessible bathhouse in South Beach of William Houck Area
  • Beach wheelchair available upon request

Hours of Operation:
​8 a.m. to sunset, April-October
10 a.m. to sunset, November-March
By regulation, vehicles are not permitted to be parked after sunset. Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.​

Day Use Fees:

Manor Area

  • $3 per vehicle for Maryland Residents
  • $5 per vehicle for non-Maryland Residents

William Houck Area

  • Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend - Rates are by person
    • Weekdays (Mondays through Fridays)
      • $3 per Maryland Resident
      • $5 per non-Maryland Resident
    • Weekends & Holidays (Saturdays & Sundays)
      • $5 per Maryland Resident
      • $7 per non-Maryland Resident
  • Off Peak (After Labor Day weekend to the Friday of Memorial Day weekend)
    • $3 per vehicle for Maryland Residents
    • $5 per vehicle for non-Maryland Residents

Hunting Policy:

  • General hunting permitted in 4,400 acre designated hunting area
  • Nighttime furbearer hunting by permit only
  • Hunting permitted Monday-Saturday
  • Hunt from Vehicle provisions for disabled hunters
  • Provisions for hunters with mobility impairments

Pet Policy:

  • Cunningham Falls Campgrounds: Pets are allowed in Addison Run, Bear Branch, Catoctin Creek and the Manor Area Camping Loops.
  • Houck Area: Pets allowed on all trails. Pets allowed anywhere in the day-use area except for sandy portion of the beach and lake from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
  • ​Manor Area: Pets are allowed in the day-use area and trails.

Alcohol Policy:
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all areas (including campgrounds), except the Manor Area Shelter, where you may purchase an alcohol permit, when you make a reservation.

Plan Ahead for "Filled To Capacity" Park Closures
Cunningham Falls State Park is one of Maryland’s most popular parks and serves a very high volume of visitors during summer weekends and holidays. To ensure the safety of our visitors and protection of the park’s natural resources and facilities, the park has a limited capacity.

During periods of high visitation, when the park’s capacity is reached, the park will be closed and traffic will be turned away from the park entrance. When that occurs, no additional vehicles/visitors will be allowed to enter the park, including those with members of their party who may already be in the park. If you are not traveling in the same vehicle with others in your party, we suggest that you all arrive at the same time.

When the park is closed due to being full to capacity, individuals and groups with shelter and/or camping reservations will be admitted, as parking is reserved for those purposes.

Based on recent experience and visitation trends, and depending on good weather, Cunningham Falls State Park will likely fill to capacity and close on Memorial Day and Fourth of July holiday weekends, and other weekends during the course of the summer. Please take this into consideration when planning your trip.


Cell Phone Service:
Please DO NOT rely on cell phones for communication while in the park. Many phones and carriers do not get service in the Catoctin Mountains.​​​​​​

Alerts

 

Alerts

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Lake, Beach and Falls Area Closures​

On warm spring/summer weekends, the Lake, Beach and Falls Area of Cunningham Falls State Park may close due to capacity limitations. All traffic will be turned away from the entrance. The area usually re-opens in the afternoon. If you are not traveling with your party we suggest that you all arrive at the same time to insure the best chance that you will all get in.

No Cellular Service

Please be advised that most areas of Cunningham Falls State Park have very limited cellular service. Your phone may not work at the park. Please plan ahead. If you are meeting another party within the park, please make sure to set up a time and location to meet.

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Cunningham Falls Hiking

​Although many visitors wish to get an up close view of the spectacular natural attraction, swimming is prohibited and climbing is not advised at the falls. This policy is in place for the safety and protection of both the visitors and of the natural resource. Park staff has responded to hundreds of accidents at the Falls, most of which have been a direct result of visitors slipping or falling while attempting to explore the falls. In addition to visitor safety, we are dedicated to protecting, conserving and enhancing our natural resources. By eliminating human impact at the Falls, we are ensuring that the falls will be preserved as a wild and natural resource.

Help us protect our treasures. Please no hiking or climbing off of the trail in or around Cunningham Falls (McAfee Falls).

Firewood Alert

Firewood for camping can be purchased onsite or from a local vendor. Please do not bring firewood from great distances into the park. The Emerald Ash Borer and other forest pests are known to spread through the transportation of firewood. Please help us keep our trees safe. For more information please visit The Maryland Park Service Firewood Policy web page

Iron Masters Ruins

The iron masters ruins in the Manor area of Cunningham Falls State Park are temporarily closed to the public.

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Special Events

 
Fun Run 2022

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Virtual tour of the Catoctin Furnace African American Cemetery Interpretive Trail

*Virtual Program*, may be accessed at any time

The Catoctin Furnace African American Cemetery represents what is thought to be the most complete African American cemetery connected with early industry in the United States. More than 100 individuals who labored at the iron-working furnace and in its surrounding community from the 1770s to the 1840s were buried there. The trail begins in Cunningham Falls State Park at the ruins of the historic Catoctin Furnace and leads to an overlook near the African American cemetery. Panels explain the ironmaking process, explore the historic buildings and tell the story of the workers who lived and worked in the furance and village. The trail is an unpaved smooth, ADA-style path that is approximately half a mile long with two viewing platforms. Open daily during park hours. Virtual tour here: https://catoctinfurnace.org/african-american-cemetery/

Spirits of the Furnace

Saturday October 21 from 6:30-9pm

Cunningham Falls State Park, Catoctin Furnace Historical Society & Harriet Chapel welcome you to tour the Spirits of the Furnace program!

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Friends 5k, 10k, Fun Run/Walk

November 5, 2023​

The annual Friends footrace occurs at the peak of fall foliage in the cool, crisp air. This family friendly activity has food, prizes and a great race t-shirt. The paved 5k begins and ends at the Lake parking lot and includes “The Hill.” The 10k is a challenging double-loop of the 5k course. The un-timed 1.4 mile Fun Run/Walk is at your own pace.  This event benefits the Friends of Cunningham Falls & Gambrill State Parks.


First Day Hikes - January 1, 2024​

For more information about ​First Day Hikes click here.​

Maple Syrup Festival ​- 2nd and 3rd W​eekends in March

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

​14274 William Houck Drive, Thurmont, MD 21788​​
For more information about the Maple Syrup Festival click here​.​


Maryland Iron Festival - May 18 & 19, 2024

Celebrate our region’s history as an early center for iron making at this festival featuring blacksmithing demonstrations; hands on casting and molding demonstrations; guided tours of the historic village by costumed interpreters; a beer and wine garden; ple​in air artists delicious historic foods; a wide variety of iron and metalwork arts, crafts, and jewelry; live period music; whimsical cannonball tosses and anvil lifting contests; childrens’ activities; make it/take it opportunities, and more! Partner events in surrounding parks and towns-including exhibits at the Museum of the Ironworker, educational speakers at the Thurmont Public Library, guided tours of the charcoal trail in nearby Catoctin Mountain Park, and a commemoration of the role of Africans in ironmaking at Catoctin. (FREE) This program is managed and sponsored by the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society.


ⓘ ​ ​Sign up here to receive news about upcoming park programs and events!

Hiking

 
Cunningham Falls State Park

The Cunningham Falls State Park trail system varies in terrain from short, flat hikes to steep and rocky ascents that will challenge even the experienced hiker. For this reason, mountain biking is not permitted. Trail distances vary from .5 mile to 7.5 miles.

Additionally, Cunningham Falls State Park offers trails that traverse public hunting areas. Please be familiar with the hunting seasons and remember to wear bright colors and be alert to all visitors recreating in the area.

Catoctin Trail Parking:

Gambrill State Park: Park at the Trailhead or in the High Knob Area. Overnight parking is only permitted in the Trailhead with prior approval from Gambrill SP staff. Any vehicles left overnight without prior approval may receive a citation. Please email Gambrill.StatePark@maryland.gov. Please forward your campsite reservation information to the staff.

Cunningham Falls State Park: Park at the gravel lot on Catoctin Hollow Road, in the William Houck Area or in the Manor Area. Parking at the Camp Office for hiking is not permitted April through October.​

William Houck Area Trails

  • ​​​​ Lower Trail -- ½ mile (red blaze) -- This easy to moderate trail is the shortest and easiest access to the Falls. Interpretive signs and benches along the way. Return to the lake by this trail or Cliff Trail. This trail terminates at the Falls. Convenient parking in the Day- Use Area, overflow in South Beach and NorthBeach lots.
  • Cliff Trail -- ¾ mile (yellow blaze) -- Rough terrain offers strenuous hiking past rock outcrops that lead to the falls. Return to the lake by this trail or Lower Trail. Convenient parking in the Day-Use Area, overflow in South Beach and North Beach lots.
  • Campground Trail -- ¾ mile (orange blaze) -- This strenuous trail gives campers access to the Cliff Trail. Access at entrance to Bear Branch Loop.
  • Old Misery Trail -- 2 miles -- (orange blaze) -- This steep, strenuous trail with many switchbacks and scenic views connects with the Cat Rock Trail. Accessible via the Dam Overlook parking lot off of Catoctin Hollow Road.
  • Cat Rock Trail -- 1.5 miles (yellow blaze) -- This steep, strenuous trail leads to Cat Rock (elevation 1560’) and scenic views. Convenient parking located at Peniel Lot off of Route 77.

Manor Area Trails

  • Catoctin Furnace Trail -- ¼ mile (no blaze) -- A self-guided trail which leads to Catoctin Furnace Historical Village. Crosses U.S. 15 via elevated foot path (46 steps up the stairway). Access via lower day-use area in Manor Area.
  • African American Cemetery Trail​ -- ½ mile (no blaze) -- Use the wayside interpretive panels to learn about the iron making process. More importantly, learn the names and stories of those enslaved to work in the village. This ADA-style unpaved path has two viewing platforms and three wooden benches. Parking is recommended at the Catoctin Furnace or the Manor Area of Cunningham Falls State Park.
  • Bob’s Hill Trail -- 1.5 miles (yellow blaze) -- This steep, strenuous trail leads to Bob’s Hill (elevation 1765’) and two short spur trails with views North and South. Convenient parking in Manor Area day-use.
  • Cat Rock / Bob’s Hill Hike -- 7.5 miles one way -- (yellow blaze) This strenuous trail crosses the mountain and passes two scenic rock outcrops with scenic views. Convenient parking in Manor Area day- use or in Peniel Lot off of Route 77.
  • Catoctin Trail -- 27 miles (blue blaze) -- This strenuous trail leads from Gambrill State Park through Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park. Nine miles of trail are in Cunningham Falls. Camping permitted only in designated campgrounds. Notify the park in advance if leaving vehicle in park overnight.

Trail Map

A new map of the trails at Cunningham Falls State Park can be downloaded for free from this website. Please make sure to read the printing instructions and information for how to download the file to cell phones. The map is in a PDF format that requires Adobe Reader. To get the free Adobe Reader go to Adobe.com.
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Picnicking

 
Picnicking

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Picnicking at the William Houck Area

Picnic tables and grills are available near the lake area on a first come, first served basis. There are no covered pavilions or shelters in this area. Please remember to arrive early as the park often reaches capacity by mid to late morning on weekends, holidays and even some weekdays during the summer swim season.

Picnicking in the Manor Area

Picnic tables and grills are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Manor Area picnic shelter is available by reservation only. The shelter holds 150 people. The shelter was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) out of native stone many years prior to the installation of Route 15. It is recommended that you visit the shelter prior to making your reservation due to its proximity to the highway.​

Swimming

 
Beach scene at Cunninghm Falls State Park

Swimming is currently prohibited until Memorial Day Weekend 2023.

LAKE ADDRESS
14274 William Houck Drive
Thurmont, MD 21788

Swimming is permitted Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend in three designated areas of Hunting Creek Lake. During this time, swimming is permitted at your own risk when lifeguards are not on duty. L​ifeguards will not be on a regular schedule and visitors need to plan accordingly.

Pets are not permitted on sandy beaches or in the lake during this time period.

Lifeguards are on duty every day between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., the weekend before Memorial Day to Labor Day. Please note there is limited coverage on Mondays.

For your safety and the protection of the natural resource swimming is not allowed at the falls.

Please remember to arrive early as the park often reaches capacity by mid to late morning on weekends and holidays. If the park reaches capacity, visitors will be turned away.​​​

Camping and Cabins

 
Campsite at Cunningham Falls State Park



Cunningham Falls State Park has campsites in both the William Houck Area and the Manor Area.

Make a reservation online or by calling 1-888-432-CAMP.

Click Here for Camping Rates for the William Houck & Manor Area Campgrounds​​​

William Houck Campground

5783 Campground Drive
Thurmont, MD 21788

The William Houck Area Campground opens at the beginning of April and closes at the end of October annually. Campers check in at the Camp Office, located at the entrance to the campground, starting at 3 p.m. until closing.

Features include:

  • 106 basic sites and 36 electric sites
    • Campsites are 23’ x 23’ stone dust pad with a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post
    • ​4 (6-person) Mini Cabins
    • Centrally located bathhouses in each loop
    • Dump Station at Campground Exit
    • Freshwater fill up
    • Pet friendly Loops: Addison Run, Bear Branch & Catoctin Creek

Camp Office Hours of Operation

Before Memorial Day Weekend and After Labor Day Weekend:

Sunday - Thursday
11 a.m. - 7 p.m.​
Friday & Saturday
8 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Memorial Day Weekend - Labor Day
8 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Camp Store Hours of Operation

Until further notice:
Mondays - Thursdays: Closed
Fridays: 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturdays: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sundays: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.​

Cabins are to be checked out and vacated by 12 p.m. and campsites are to be checked out and vacated by 1 p.m. on the last day of the reservation. If you need to arrange check in or out outside of the listed hours, please contact the park office ahead of time.

Click here for William Houck Area Camping Map and Site Descriptions​


Manor Area Campground

6709 Cunningham Falls Park Road
Thurmont, MD 21788

  • ​All Manor Area Campground reservations should be made using the park reservation website​. Reservations should be made online in advance so that you can receive important alerts and be granted access into the campground. Monday-Friday, excluding holidays, reservations can also be made from 9am-5pm by calling, 1-888-432-2267. Those without reservations will not be guaranteed access to the campground.
  • The park entrance gates are closed 7pm-7am during the winter months. Registered campers will receive the gate code in their reservation confirmation email. Without a reservation, access will not be granted during these hours.
  • In inclement weather, the park reserves the right to close the campground as needed and cancel reservations. Access and exit to the campground is not guaranteed in inclement weather. Campsites are not plowed.
  • Only self contained units​ are permitted (units that have a restroom inside the unit).
  • Starting October 31, 2023 the campground bath house, dump station and all day use restrooms will be closed for the season and only portable restrooms will be available until April.
  • Check in for reservation holders is located at the shed inside the entrance to the campground.
  • Firewood sales will not be available in the winter season.​
  • Features include:

    • ​​​20 basic sites, 7 electric sites, no cabins
    • Centrally located bathhouses with flushing toilets and hot showers (only available April-October)
    • Pet friendly throughout the entire campground
    • Free access to the William Houck Area dump station (only available April-October)

Click here for Manor Area Camping Map and Site Descriptions​


Camper Cabins

The William Houck Area Campground has 4 six-person camper cabins. Each cabin site has a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post. All cooking must be done outside the cabin. The cabins have no heat. Campers may bring an electric heater or fan. Heat sources should not be left on while the cabin is unattended. No propane heaters are allowed. Campers must provide their own linens.

Reservations are recommended since the camper cabins often fill weeks or months in advance.

Camp Hosts

Camp hosts​ are volunteers that live in the campground from the spring to the fall. Of the many benefits camp hosts provide the park, they are primarily responsible for cleaning campsites and assisting campers with issues or questions when a ranger is not immediately available. Please feel free to stop by a camp host site if you need assistance.

If you are interested in becoming a camp host for the upcoming season, please contact the park at CunninghamFalls.StatePark@maryland.gov or the park at 301-271-7574.​

No tent? No problem!

You can have an RV or camping trailer delivered and set up on your site prior to your arrival. Contact the park office at (301) 271-7574 or Beckley’s RVs (833) 228-2376 for details on how to rent the camper of your choice from a local, experienced RV rental company. This is an extra service and is not included in your camping reservation. ​

OPERATION: CAMPOUT!

​It's never too late to discover the joys of sitting around a roaring campfire, roasting marshmallows or sleeping under the stars!

The OPERATION: CAMPOUT! Program supplies the park with gear that we can lend you free of charge (includes a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more). This program is designed for military individuals and military families new to camping or experienced campers stationed or recovering in this area. OPERATION: CAMPOUT! is an opportunity for families to reconnect with each other and the great outdoors in a comfortable, safe and relaxing setting. Contact the park directly, with your reservation information, to reserve your camping kit.

Tips for Camping in Black Bear Country

Bears do visit our campgrounds. Here are a few simple reminders to help keep you and the bears safe and ensure that you have an enjoyable stay.

  • Never keep food in your tent.
  • Store food and garbage out of a bear's reach by storing food securely in the trunk of your vehicle.
  • Remove your trash from your site daily and place in the campground dumpsters.
  • Remember to secure your pet’s food also.
  • If a bear comes into camp, don't feed it! Scare it away by making noise.
  • See a park employee to get more detailed information on how to camp in black bear country or visit: Living with Black Bears.
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Boating

 
Canoeing Lake at Cunningham Falls State Park

A boat ramp for launching private watercraft onto Hunting Creek Lake is available for a small service charge.

Only electric motors are permitted. No gasoline motors

A boat concession on Hunting Creek Lake rents boats during the summer season.

Boat Launch Fees

  • $3 for Maryland residents
  • $5​ for non-Maryland residents

Please pay at the honor box beside the Boat Ramp.


Fishing

 
Trout fishing at Cunningham Falls State Park

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Cunningham Falls State Park has several opportunities for fishing. A Maryland Freshwater Sport Fishing License is required for all anglers 16 years and older. Be sure to consult the ​ Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide for fishing seasons and size regulations prior to your fishing trip.

Hunting Creek Lake is a put and take trout area. An accessible fishing pier is located off of Catoctin Hollow Road next to the boat ramp. Fishermen can also fish for bass, bluegills, sunfish, crappie and catfish.

Big Hunting Creek along MD Route 77, as well as its tributaries within Cunningham Falls State Park, is a catch and release trout stream limited to artificial fly fishing only. Use of conventional fly fishing tackle and artificial flies must be used.

Little Hunting Creek in the Manor Area is a catch and release trout stream limited to the use of artificial lures and flies only. Spinning gear may be used.

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Hunting

 

Hunting is permitted on 4,400 acres of wildlands in accordance with statewide hunting regulations. The hunting area consists of forested terrain with steep access routes.

A "reservations only" deer hunting area is available for hunters with a Universal Disability Permit​.

  • Reservations can be made for Deer Firearm Season and the first week of Muzzleloader Season.
  • Reservations are required.
  • Reservations are taken starting the day after Labor Day at 8:00 a.m.
  • Reservations can be made either in person at the Park Administration Office or by calling 301-271-7574.


Be sure to consult your Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for season dates and bag limits. A Maryland issued hunting license is required to hunt in the park. Hunting licenses may be purchased online​ or through select Sport Hunting & Fishing License Agents

View the Cunningham Falls State Park Hunting Map and information

Hunters may enter/remain on park property outside of the regular posted hours provided that they are engaged in a legitimate, authorized hunting activity.

Interpretive Programs

 

ⓘ ​ ​Sign up here to receive news about upcoming park programs and events!

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Front of Cunningham Falls State Park Aviary


Scales & Tales Program​

The Cunningham Falls State Park Aviary is home to 21 non releasable animals including raptors and reptiles, both native and non native. All of the animals serve as ambassadors for the MPS Scales & Tales program and are used for educational outreach.​

Hours of Operation *Hours are subject to change*

  • May: Weekends, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Memorial Day to Labor Day: Every day, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • September & October: Weekends, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • November - April: Closed, though still viewable outside of gated areas.

The Scales & Tales program is funded through program service charges and donations. If you wish to make a donation to assist with animal care, please visit the Friends of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks page or see the donation box outside of the Aviary. Please note that during the winter months, the animals may be removed from public display or may be in a period of brumation, not visible to the public.

Historic Catoctin Iron Furnace

The historic Catoctin Iron Furnace, located along Route 806 in Frederick County, Maryland was a site for iron-making for 127 years from 1776 to 1903. This landmark on the National Historic Register is a place where visitors can step back in time. Click here for more detailed information on the Historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.

Wildlife in Parks​

 
Snake​​

​ ​Cunningham Falls State Park and the surrounding recreational land have some incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. From the rock outcrops on mountain tops to the shoreline of Hunting Creek Lake, visitors have the opportunity to view birds such as eagles and turkey vultures; reptiles such as snakes and turtles;and even mammals such as raccoons and bears.

Consequently, these opportunities may result in human-animal conflicts if proper precautions are not taken. Here are some tips on how to recreate responsibly in wildlife abundant areas.​​

Black Bear Country

Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick Counties in Maryland are all home to black bears. Recreating in these counties presents the possibility that visitors may see a black bear while hiking, camping, picnicking, etc.

Department of Natural Resources staff work to minimize human and bear conflicts. For more information about recreating in Black Bear Country, visit the Living with Black Bears webpage.

Snakes in Parks​

Maryland is home to a large diversity of wildlife including many species of snakes. Snakes are rarely aggressive towards humans. If you encounter a snake simply maintain a safe distance and move away from it.

Only two kinds of snakes inhabiting Maryland are venomous: the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. Both species have been documented in the park.

View the venomous snake poster - which includes pictures and prevention measures​

​Bus/Van Reservations

 

Buses are welcomed at Cunningham Falls State Park with a reservation. There is a non-refundable reservation charge, plus a day-use entry service fee. There are special supervision requirements for youth groups of one adult for every five youth (1:5 ratio). Groups that do not meet this requirement will be turned away. No buses are permitted on summer weekends and holidays. Bus reservations can be made online or by calling 1-888-432-CAMP (2267). For more information, you may call the park directly at 301-271-7574.

Please note:

  • A bus is defined as a 15 passenger or more vehicle.
  • Reservations are required, please call 1-888-432-2267 or go online to make a reservation. Groups without a reservation may be turned away.
  • There are a maximum of 5​ buses per day permitted in the Lake Area unless staffing prohibits.
  • There must be one adult chaperone for every 5 children (1:5). Groups that do not meet this ratio, with or without a reservation, will be turned away.

Construction Updates

 
Construction

The Maryland Park Service and the staff of Cunningham Falls State Park are always trying to improve our facilities to m​​ake them safer, more efficient and more accessible for our visitors. Please read below for a list of current and upcoming projects that may impact your visit.


Renovation Project Notice:

Due to the replacement of the sewer lines on MD-77 (Foxville Rd), the restrooms in the William Houck Area will remained closed until further notice.



Contact​ Info

We apologize for any inconvenience the construction plans cause our park patrons. If you have any questions, please call the park office at 301-271-7574, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Feel free to email the Park Manager at: mark.spurrier@maryland.gov. Also, please continue to check this website for updates and sign up for our Twitter account for the most up to date information on park closures.​​

Volunteer Opportunities

 
Volunteer Tie Dye
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Message from Park Manager, Mark Spurrier

Volunteers are an integral part of the operations of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks. From serving as a camp host, to helping out with maintenance projects, a special event, or as a supportive member and advocate through our Friends of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks, there are options tailored to varying levels of availability and skill set. To search for volunteer opportunities at this state park and all of the state parks in Maryland, please view the Volunteer with Maryland State Parks webpage and then click on Opportunity Search in the Volunteer Menu on the left side of the page. Below are examples of possible opportunities:

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Gardening/Invasive Plants

Be a part of the larger effort to encourage the growth of native trees and plants while removing invasive plants in the parks.

Maintenance

From trash pick up, to cleaning out gutters or campsites, be prepared to get some exercise and get dirty.

Special Events

Maple Syrup Festival,​ the Maryland Iron Festival, Spirits of the Furnace, Traditional Village Christmas, 5k/10k Race, First Day hikes and more. There are many special events in the park which require extra help, from set and clean up to parking cars, serving food, serving as a tour guide and more.

Camp Host

Enjoy meeting your fellow campers? Camp hosts receive a free campsite in exchange for working for 20 hours per week per person. The work to be done includes but is not limited to: welcoming new campers, keeping the campsites clean, keeping the campground in good condition, keeping bathhouses clean and in working order, answering questions asked by campers, and letting the campers know what is happening in the park/area over the period of the campers stay. Minimum commitment of 1-month stay required. Visit the Camp Host section of the DNR website for more info.

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Aviary

Assist in the feeding and cleaning of animal enclosures at the park’s aviary which houses non-releasable raptors and reptiles. Patience and willingness to get dirty and messy, commitment to a weekly shift and a year commitment is needed. Must be at least 18 years old and able to lift a minimum of 20 lbs. regularly and 50 lbs. occasionally or with help.

Trail Work

Like to get your hands dirty or hike? Volunteer to join one the trail stewardship program. Check trails on a regular basis and report any issues, downed trees or signage issues. Occasional trail work days are set to clear and repair trails throughout the year. The ability to work outside in all weather conditions on rugged terrain is a must.

Interpretation/Education

Volunteers can learn and help deliver interpretive and educational programs to the park’s visitors, including but not limited to hikes, campfire programs, animal programs, historical programs, craft programs and more.

Visitor Center/Nature Center

Serve as a friendly face and answer basic park questions with shifts in the Visitor or Nature Centers.

Friends of Cunningham Falls & Gambrill State Parks, Inc.

Consider joining this ​organization to support both parks. The Friends generate the financial support necessary for supplementing the park's budget. All proceeds go directly back into the park. The members consist of local residents, representatives of the surrounding business community, campers and people like you who care about the park and want to be a part of making a difference for its future. Contact for the Friends: James Baker, President; baker89james@gmail.com​ or visit their website.

​Group and/or Corporate Volunteering

If your company or civic group is looking for an opportunity to give a day of service in an outdoor setting, let us know. Invasive plant removal, trash pickup, and plantings are a few examples of what groups have done for us in the past.


Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Claudia Padilla, at claudia.padilla@maryland.gov to talk about opportunities to serve your natural resources, your neighbors and yourselves. Your contribution is priceless. ​

Camp Hosts

 
Campsite at a state park

Camp Host Job Description

Duties will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Greet and assist visitors by providing information and by answering questions
  • Serve as liaison between park users and park staff
  • Distribute maps, copies of park rules and regulations and brochures
  • May assist campers in locating a campsite
  • Be familiar with local points of interest and the location of services that might be requested by campers such as towing, groceries, churches, tourist attractions and local events
  • Assist camp staff with camper registration process
  • Camp host is not expected to and shall not attempt to discipline or apprehend any park patron
  • Host will report all disturbances to park staff
  • Host can inform campers of rules and regulations, but are not expected to participate in the enforcement of rules and regulations
  • Law enforcement will be done by law enforcement officers only
  • Perform light maintenance work around the campground such as:
    • ​Cabin Cleaning
    • Litter pickup
    • Light cleaning and stocking of restrooms
    • Raking campsite pads
    • Washing tables
    • Cleaning out fire rings
    • Sweeping
    • Trimming or weeding
    • Reporting property damage or major maintenance/cleaning issues to your supervisor​
    • Keep a written report of complaints and criticism of park facilities
    • Report situations that could affect the health and safety of visitors
    • Host may maintain other written records as requested by their supervisor
    • Prompt reporting of all issues that require immediate attention
  • May be assigned other duties and projects not listed


Working Conditions/Benefits:

  • Work is mostly outside in hot, cold, wet, humid and/or windy conditions
  • Walking or bicycling is required
  • Camp host must reside in the campground and will receive the use of a campsite and all utilities at no charge for the duration of the term of service
  • Host must set an example by being a model camper practicing good housekeeping at all times in and around their assigned site and by observing all rules and regulations
  • Camp host will be issued one or more of the following: shirt, vest, and/or name tag
  • Host will provide their own mobile camping unit (RV or Trailer – Please contact the camp host coordinator for units over 35 feet)


Skills required:

  • Ability to get along well with a diverse public from differing backgrounds
  • Ability to remain calm and friendly when confronted with upset visitors
  • Ability to physically get out and make rounds through the camping area
  • Ability to adapt to changing working conditions
  • A good knowledge of the park and surrounding area
  • Ability to complete the application process including: filling out the application completely and accurately; a short interview; background check


Time Commitment:

  • A minimum of 20 hours of service time per week for a minimum of four (4) weeks, to include most weekends and all holidays
  • Two consecutive days off per-week in the summer
  • Reasonable leave requests granted with ample notice


Supervision and Training Provided:

  • Supervised by park ranger or their designee
  • Trained in campground registration procedures, rules and regulations and host responsibilities
  • Seasonal training classes are required. Dates and locations will vary

Contact:

Please download an application and e-mail it to one of the contacts below. If you have any questions, please contact the park at (301) 271-7574.

William Houck and Manor Areas of Cunningham Falls State Park
CunninghamFalls.StatePark@maryland.gov
301-271-7574

Gambrill State Park
Gambrill.StatePark@maryland.gov
301-293-4170


Maple Syrup Festival​

 
Ranger Eric Creter at the Annual demonstration. - Photo: Stephen Badger


Join the Friends of Cunningham Falls​ and Gambrill State Parks during the middle two weekends of March annually for the largest fundraising event of the year. For over 50 years, the staff of Cunningham Falls and the volunteers that support the park complex join together for the month of March to celebrate the Sugaring traditions of the Appalachian Mountains.

Sap to syrup boil demonstrations detail the process for you on the hour, every hour. A traditional pancake breakfast allows you to sample the Maryland-made syrup that is for sale in the park. There’s plenty more for your family to do to start a tradition of your own!​

Driving Directions

 

Driving Directions:
The William Houck Area, located three miles west of Thurmont on Route 77, has the lake area, falls and camping. The Manor Area three miles south of Thurmont off Route 15 has the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.​​

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Other Things to Check Out!


Hiking
The Cunningham Falls State Park trail system varies in terrain from short, flat hikes to steep and rocky ascents that will challenge even the experienced hiker. For this reason, mountain biking is not permitted. Trail distances vary from .5 mile to 7.5 miles.

Picnicking
Picnic tables and grills are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the William Houck and Manor areas. The Manor area shelter requires a reservation.​

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​Park Programs

Click the Fliers for Details!​

Beginner Archery Event
Invasive Weed Pull for Volunteers
Pollinator Nature Game
Westminister Astronomical Society 2024 Summer Programs
​​​ Magical Moth Program 2024 ​
Lake Seine Program 2024 
Volunteer Trash Pick-Up Event 
Turtle Feeding Event 



Elevated wooden trail curving through woods in the fall  

Self-Guided Activities!​

​​The Cunningham Falls State Park trail system varies in terrain from short, flat hikes to steep and rocky ascents that will challenge even the experienced hiker. For this reason, mountain biking is not permitted. Trail distances vary from .5 mile to 7.5 miles.

Additionally, Cunningham Falls State Park offers trails that traver​se public hunting areas. Please be familiar with the hunting seasons and remember to wear bright colors and be alert to all visitors recreating in the area.

Visit Our Trails Page!


Trail Map

A map of the trails at Cunningham Falls State Park can be downloaded for free from this website. Please make sure to read the printing instructions and information for how to download the file to cell phones.


View of the beach from the lake surrounded by green grass and old growth trees  

Park Highlight

Swimming

Swimming is permitted Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend in three designated areas of Hunting Creek Lake. During this time, swimming is permitted at your own risk when lifeguards are not on duty. Lifeguards are on duty every day between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., the weekend before Memorial Day to Labor Day. Please note there is limited coverage on Mondays.

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7 Other State Park Locations Near​ Cunningham Falls​