Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. With 25 miles of hiking trails, trout fishing streams, camping, and horseback riding, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. When you visit the Visitor Center, you’ll have the opportunity to explore exhibits that showcase the park’s natural and federal history. From building a log cabin to listening to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chat, you’ll have a truly immersive experience. Make sure to stop by the small bookstore and pick up a map before you head out to explore all that Catoctin Mountain Park has to offer.
The Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center is the perfect place to start your adventure in the park. Located at the heart of the park, the visitor center provides a wealth of information and resources to enhance your visit. Upon arrival, make sure to stop by the visitor center to pick up a map of the park, browse through the small bookstore, and explore the center’s exhibits. The exhibits at the visitor center offer a fascinating glimpse into the natural and federal history of the park.
The newly immersive exhibits at the visitor center allow visitors to engage with the park’s history in a unique way. You can try your hand at building a log cabin, listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a fireside chat, and sit in front of a panoramic view of Chimney Rock. One of the highlights of the exhibits is the original sign for the mountaintop presidential retreat Hi-Catoctin, which was later renamed Camp David by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The sign hangs opposite a new poster on the roots of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, at Camp Greentop.
In addition to the historical exhibits, the visitor center also showcases the mountain’s unique geology and Native American settlements. As you explore the exhibits, you’ll also learn about the park’s modern history, including the development of cabin camps and the establishment of Camp David.
The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March through November, and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December through February. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking to learn more about the park, a visit to the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center is a must-do during your trip.
As a national park, Catoctin Mountain Park is known for offering breathtaking scenic vistas. With 25 miles of hiking trails, the park provides opportunities for visitors of all fitness levels to enjoy stunning views. The hiking trails in the park range in difficulty from easy to strenuous, ensuring that there is a trail suitable for everyone.
Some of the most notable scenic vistas in Catoctin Mountain Park include:
Located at an elevation of around 1400 feet, Chimney Rock offers a breathtaking view of the Piedmont region to the east. As you stand atop Chimney Rock, take in the panoramic vista and appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
Situated at an elevation of approximately 1600 feet, Hog Rock provides a view to the east of the mountains of the Weverton Formation and the gap through which Hunting Creek flows. This scenic vista offers a unique perspective of the park’s diverse landscape.
A relatively short but steep climb brings you to Thurmont Vista, which stands at an elevation of 1502 feet. From this vantage point, you can enjoy a stunning view to the east of the Frederick Valley and Thurmont. The steep climb is well worth the effort for the breathtaking vista that awaits.
Blue Ridge Summit Overlook
Considered the most accessible high vista point in the park, the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook sits at an elevation of 1520 feet. This overlook offers a beautiful view to the north of the Harbaugh Valley and the mountains of southern Pennsylvania. As you admire the view, you’ll see the valleys and slopes that drain into Owens Creek.
Exploring these scenic vistas is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Catoctin Mountain Park. Whether you embark on an easy trail or tackle a more challenging hike, be sure to bring your camera to capture the awe-inspiring views.
Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail
For history enthusiasts, the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail offers a fascinating insight into the region’s past. The trail sheds light on the history of whiskey production in Frederick County, providing a glimpse into the prohibition era and the moonshining activities that took place.
The tradition of whiskey production in the area dates back to around 1734, with the conversion of rye and corn into liquor. Many farms had their own stills until the passing of the 1791 Excise Tax, which required the payment of a tax to own a still. Ownership of stills only became an offense with the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the possession of stills.
On July 31, 1929, a raid on the Blue Blazes Still resulted in the fatal shooting of Deputy Sheriff Clyde L. Hauver. The still, a large commercial operation known as a “steamer” still, was discovered with more than 25,000 gallons of mash. The subsequent investigation and trial were filled with conflicting testimony and rumors, leaving the exact details of the events a mystery to this day.
Today, you can visit the historic site of the Blue Blazes Still on the banks of Distillery Run. While the original still no longer stands, a new still has been erected to give visitors a glimpse into the past. Nearby distilleries, such as Springfield Manor in Thurmont and McClintock Distilling in Downtown Frederick, continue the tradition of whiskey production in the area, offering a taste of Maryland rye whiskey.
If you’re looking to spend the night surrounded by nature, Catoctin Mountain Park offers a variety of lodging options. Whether you prefer the comfort of a historic wooden cabin or the simplicity of camping under the stars, the park has accommodations to suit your needs.
The historic stone and wood cabins were built in 1936 as part of a federal Great Depression-era jobs plan to construct recreational camps. These cabins offer a rustic yet cozy experience, transporting you back in time to the early days of the park. Each cabin is equipped with a campfire and cooking grill, allowing you to enjoy traditional outdoor meals during your stay.
For those who prefer a more immersive camping experience, Camp Misty Mount provides campsites where you can set up your tent and spend the night under the starry sky. The region’s Blue Ridge Province ensures that you’ll be treated to stunning mountain views and the soothing sounds of clear streams.
No matter which lodging option you choose, camping in Catoctin Mountain Park allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. Wake up to the serenity of the park, and embark on a day filled with outdoor adventures.
One of the great advantages of visiting Catoctin Mountain Park is that admission is free. You can explore the park’s scenic vistas, hiking trails, and other attractions without having to worry about entrance fees. Enjoy the park’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities without any additional cost.
Bringing your furry friend along on your outdoor adventures is often a top priority. In Catoctin Mountain Park, pets are welcome 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. This policy ensures the safety and enjoyment of both visitors and their four-legged companions.
Alcoholic Beverage Policy
To preserve the tranquility and natural beauty of Catoctin Mountain Park, alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all park areas unless authorized by a permit issued by the Superintendent. This policy helps maintain a peaceful environment within the park and ensures the safety and enjoyment of all visitors.
Whether you’re interested in history, seeking stunning vistas, or planning a camping adventure, Catoctin Mountain Park offers a range of activities and amenities to make your visit memorable. From exploring the immersive exhibits at the Visitor Center to reveling in the natural beauty of the park’s scenic vistas, a trip to Catoctin Mountain Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience.