Catoctin Mountain Park Hiking
Catoctin Mountain Park
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Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park, a national park (NPS), offers a variety of outdoor recreation experiences for visitors of all ages. The park includes 25 miles of hiking trails, popular trout fishing streams, camping, and horseback riding. There is no entrance fee at this time for Catoctin Mountain Park. Stop in at the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center for a map, to peruse the small bookstore, and view an exhibit about the history of the park area and the animals that live here.

Catoctin Mountain Visitor Center

Visitor Center

The Visitor Center exhibits tell the park's natural and federal history. New immersive exhibits allow visitors to try their hand at building a log cabin, listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a fireside chat and sit in front of a panorama view of Chimney Rock. Visitors can also see the original sign for the mountaintop presidential retreat Hi-Catoctin — renamed Camp David by President Dwight D. Eisenhower — which hangs opposite a new poster on the roots of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, at Camp Greentop. New displays show the mountain’s unique geology and Native American settlements, before moving into the park’s modern history with cabin camps and Camp David. Open daily 9AM-4:30PM, closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Chimney Rock

Scenic Vistas

National Parks have long been known for their scenic vistas and Catoctin Mountain Park offers some stunning views. The park maintains 25 miles of hiking trails with difficulty ratings between easy and strenuous. Scenic vistas at the park include: Chimney Rock, Hog Rock, Thurmont Vista, and the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook. 

  • Chimney Rock: At an elevation of about 1400 feet, looks out to the east over the Piedmont region.
  • Hog Rock: At an elevation of about 1600 feet, affords a view to the east of the mountains of the Weverton Formation and of the gap through which Hunting Creek flows.
  • Thurmont Vista: At an elevation of 1502 feet, is a relatively short steep climb. The view here is to the east of the Frederick Valley and Thurmont.
  • The Blue Ridge Summit Overlook is the most accessible high vista point in the park at 1520 feet in elevation. The trail leaves from Hog Rock Parking Area and is a short, gradual climb to the vista. This vista offers a beautiful view to the north of the Harbaugh Valley and mountains of southern Pennsylvania. The valleys and slopes seen to the north drain into Owens Creek.

Blue Blazes Trail

The Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail

Conversion of rye and corn into liquor probably began in Frederick County with the harvest of the first crop, somewhere around 1734. Until Congress passed the 1791 Excise Tax, many farms had their own stills. For the next 128 years, it was legal to own a still, provided you paid the tax. Not until the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was possession of a still an offense. On July 31, 1929, Deputy Sheriff Clyde L. Hauver was fatally wounded in a raid on the Blue Blazes Still. It was a large commercial operation, a "steamer" still. More than 25,000 gallons of mash were found in 13 vats of 2,000 gallon capacity each. Police eventually tracked down several suspects, and two moonshiners were convicted in connection with the murder after several days of conflicting testimony. Tales of a double-crossing informant, a love triangle, arson, and other rumors spread throughout central Maryland. What exactly happened remains a mystery. Today another still sits on the banks of Distillery Run. It's quite different than the set up found that day. The new Blue Blazes still is more typical of the smaller moonshine still of an earlier day.

catoctin mountain camping cabin 2

Camping

The park offers a variety of lodging opportunities to meet your needs. You can rent a historic wooden cabin or camp under the stars at Camp Misty Mount. The region is part of the Blue Ridge Province and offers scenic mountain views and clear streams. The historic stone and wood cabins were built in 1936 as part of a federal Great Depression-era jobs plan to build recreational camps. Campfire and cooking grill available at the sites. 

Additional Information

  • Admission to this park is FREE.
  • Pets are allowed in Catoctin Mountain Park as long as they are physically restrained on a leash no longer than 6 feet in length at all times or are otherwise physically confined.
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from all park areas administered by Catoctin Mountain Park, unless authorized by a permit issued by the Superintendent.

Camp David

The Presidential Retreat, Camp David, is within the park. However, it is not open to the public and its location is not shown on park maps for both security and privacy.