Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont

#1 of 12 in Things to do in Thurmont
Cunningham Falls State Park is a state-run, public recreation area located west of Thurmont, Maryland, in the United States. The state park is the home of Cunningham Falls, the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland, a 43acre man-made lake, and the remains of an historic iron furnace. The park is one of several protected areas occupying 50-mile-long Catoctin Mountain; it is bordered on its north by Catoctin Mountain Park and on its south by Frederick Municipal Forest.
Before the arrival of European settlers, Native Americans used the Catoctin Mountain area for hunting and fishing and also quarried it for rhyolite to make projectile points. During the 19th century, settlers began cutting the area's forests for charcoal to power the Catoctin Iron Furnace. "Charcoal flats"—square areas measuring approximately 25by, cut flat into the hillsides and linked by mule trails—were used to build charcoal kilns. The charcoal flats can still be seen in the park.
Over two hundred years of abuse of the forest led to the destruction of the land. In the 1930s, after years of clearcutting for the making of charcoal, mountain farming, and timber harvesting, the land was purchased by the Federal government. Beginning in 1935, workers with the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps began constructing the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area to transform the area for recreational use. The site's northern portion was transferred to the National Park Service on November 14, 1936, and renamed and reorganized on July 12, 1954, as Catoctin Mountain Park. The southern were transferred to Maryland as Cunningham Falls State Park.
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Cunningham Falls State Park Reviews
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  • My family w teenage kids camped here in tent and had some great hikes. We are experienced hikers and was surprised at the number of trails here. We took 8-10 mile hikes each day over 3 full days. betw...  more »
  • We like to go to cascade falls a lot so we thought we would try cunningham, The falls isn't as exciting as I thought it would be, but the beach area by the lake and the park itself is kept very well. ...  more »
  • Came for the maple syrup festival. It was amazing. The line for pancakes was long but they give you huge pancakes and they had a nice warm fire going. The other things were amazing as well. If you come in the summer the hiking is great.
  • We like hiking so we decided to try this park. There is a cost to enter the main part of the park. Once there (at the water) There is a fair amount of parking, bathrooms and a concession stand. We arrived after 1 pm and the place was very busy so if you are going to visit you may want to go early. We hiked the upper falls trail and then walked down to the waterfalls. The falls were nice but even though people were not supposed to climb on the rocks or be in the water at the falls there were a lot of people in both places who had no respect for the park rules. My suggestion for anyone visiting this park is to take the trails away from the main area.

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