At a Glance


  • April through October: 8 am – sunset.
  • November through March: 10 am – sunset.
  • No parking after sunset.


State Park passes are accepted. Otherwise, entry fees are:

Houck Area:

  • Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, weekends and holidays: MD residents $5/person; out-of-state residents $7/person.
  • Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, weekdays (non-holiday): MD residents $3/person; out-of-state residents $5/person.
  • Tuesday after Labor Day through Friday before Memorial Day: MD residents $3/vehicle; out-of-state residents $5/vehicle.

Manor Area: 

  • Year-round: MD residents $3/vehicle; out-of-state residents $5/vehicle.

Additional charges for camping, picnic shelters, boat launch.

Tips: Copperheads and timber rattlesnakes are occasionally seen. Black bears are common, but rarely seen. ◾ The park warns visitors to expect that their cell phones will not work in the park and should not be relied upon for communication. Many carriers do not have good service coverage in the Catoctin Mountains. ◾The Houck/lake area is popular during the summer and holidays and closed when full; no additional cars will be allowed in. ◾ Some sections of the park may be closed in winter; check the Official Website at link below for updates. ◾ Hiking boots are recommended on the trails, which may have steep and rocky sections. ◾ Hunting is permitted in designated areas of the park; be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly.

Best Seasons: Year-round, but spring and fall migrations are most productive. Summer is difficult because of crowds.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Blue Ridge Summit SW, Catoctin Furnace NW, Catoctin Furnace NE, Catoctin Furnace CW

Local MOS Chapter: Frederick Bird Club

Cunningham Falls State Park

14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont, MD 21778
(301) 271-7574

[Note: This description is for Cunningham Falls State Park in Frederick County. Do not confuse it with the similarly named Cunningham Swamp Wildlife Management Area, which is in Garrett County.]

A project involving renovation and replacement of the park sewer line under MD-77 (Foxville Road) between Pryor Road and Park Central Road​, a span of two miles, in Thurmont, Frederick County will take place in the first half of 2024.. The project requires a road closure which is expected to remain in effect through May 2024. Also, due to this repair, all restrooms in the William Houck Area of Cunningham Falls State Park will remain closed until further notice.

Starting on Thursday, January 4, 2024, crews will close this section of MD 77 in both directions to begin the work which will affect the main route to Cunningham Falls State Park. Motorists will be detoured using MD-77 to US 15 (Catoctin Mountain Highway) to MD-550 (Sabillasville Road) to Foxville Deerfield Road and back to MD 77. Trucks and other large vehicles will use a different detour route. The truck detour uses MD 77 to MD 550 to MD 491 (Raven Rock Road) to MD 64 (Smithsburg Pike). Click here to view the map​. Emergency vehicles will have access to MD 77 during the project. Please visit: for more information. For updates, go to the official park website.


One of Maryland’s most popular state parks, Cunningham Falls State Park is located in northern Frederick County in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains. The park totals over 6,000 acres, of which 4,397 have been set aside as a State Wildland, with protections that restrict usage to passive recreation. The park features a 43-acre lake, sparkling streams, rock outcroppings, extensive hiking trails, and the highest cascading waterfall in Maryland. Cunningham Falls State Park is divided into two separate and distinct areas: the William Houck area includes the lake, Cunningham Falls, camping, and trails; and the Manor Area includes the Scales & Tales Aviary, the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace and additional camping. The two areas are joined by the Catoctin Trail and Bob’s Hill Trail.

Cat Rock and Bob’s Hill have been designated as a Natural Area by MD’s Department of Natural Resources. Although no one knows for sure, Cat Rock got its name either from its resemblance to a cat or from the fact that bobcats have been seen there. At Cat Rock’s peak, the quartzite outcrop is extensive and spectacular, featuring jagged cliffs with a jumble of giant boulders below, with an intricate network of caves and deep crevices. The dry, exposed rocks support little vegetation, but do feature a variety of colorful lichens and mosses.

The expansive forests surrounding these geologic wonders are maturing second growth. Historically, the trees were cut to support charcoal production at the Catoctin Furnace between 1776 to 1903. The Cunningham Falls Natural Area is embedded within the largest contiguous tract of forest remaining in this part of Maryland. Large unbroken forest tracts are critical for a wide variety of species that are otherwise uncommon in the State. These forest-dwelling species include American black bear, bobcat and North American porcupine. The combination of a large forest tract with an extensive boulder field also provides core habitat for the Allegheny Woodrat (Neotoma magister), listed as Endangered in Maryland. The large wooded expanse also supports a wide variety of Forest Interior Dwelling Birds.

Park Addresses:

  • PARK OFFICE: 14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788
  • LAKE & FALLS: 14274 William Houck Dr, Thurmont, MD 21788
  • HOUCK CAMPGROUND: 5783 Campground Dr, Thurmont, MD 21788
  • MANOR AREA CAMPGROUND: 6709 Cunningham Falls Park Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788


Over 154 species have been reported from a combination of the four hotspots in the Cunningham Falls State Park:

The park has breeding populations of Worm-eating and Kentucky Warblers, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, Wood Thrush, and Scarlet Tanager. Regularly seen are most woodpecker species, Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Towhee, Common Raven, and small woodland birds. In migration, the park is a good place to find a variety of additional warbler species, hawks, and thrushes. In the winter, Purple Finch and kinglets can be seen.

There are hiking trails of varying lengths within the park. The Catoctin Trail runs mostly north-south through the park, and connects the park to Catoctin Mountain Park to the north and to the Frederick Municipal Forest to the southwest.

Wheelchair Access:

A short out-and-back boardwalk trail is wheelchair accessible; this trail is accessed from a parking area off of Foxville Road northwest of the lake in the William Houck Area; see the trail map at the link at left. Other hiking trails are not wheelchair accessible.

All of the restrooms in the campgrounds of the William Houck Area and the Manor Area are accessible. There is an accessible bathhouse in South Beach of the lake in the William Houck Area. A beach wheelchair is available upon request. There is a handicapped-accessible fishing pier and boat launch at the lake in the William Houck Area.

There are handicapped parking spots in the campgrounds and in day-use parking areas. There are also designated handicapped campsites in the Deer Spring loop of the William Houck campground.

Pet Policy:

Pets must be on a leash at all time; pick up after your pet and take the bagged waste with you when you leave. Pets are allowed on the hiking trails and in most other areas of the park, including at least some parts of the campgrounds, but are not permitted on the sandy swimming beach during the swimming season.

Special Destinations:

Special Features:

  • The park offers many visitor amenities and activities, including swimming, fishing, hunting, boat rentals and boat launch (no gasoline motors), camping (cabins, tent sites, and RV sites), and picnicking. There is a Nature Center in the William Houck area, and a Scales and Tales wildlife education program.
  • The Friends of Cunningham Falls State Park and Gambrill State Park, Inc. is a support group for the two parks. The members generate financial support necessary for supplementing the park’s budget. All proceeds go directly to the parks and are used for improvements such as the renovated Nature Center at High Rock Scenic Area of Gambrill State Park, tree plantings, new safety equipment, updated vehicles, and heavy equipment. The Friends also provide continuing support for events such as the “Maple Syrup Festival”, “Tea In The Tea Room” and the “Friends 10K, 5K and Fun Run Race.” The Friends would welcome your  donation or your membership as an active volunteer.
  • Birds from the Department of Natural Resources Scales & Tales Program can be seen during park hours in the Manor Area.
  • Check the park’s official website for special events.
  • The Historic Catoctin Iron Furnace, located along Route 806 in the Manor Area of the park, was a site for iron-making for 127 years, from 1776 to 1903. In its early years, the furnace was worked primarily by enslaved African American laborers, who were eventually replaced by immigrants from Europe. Near the furnace is a cemetery where the African American laborers were buried; a brochure published by the Department of Natural Resources tells the story of the enslaved people and the cemetery. Today, the furnace is landmark on the National Historic Register and is a place where visitors can step back in time at events throughout the year, such as a Maple Syrup Demonstrations in March.

Local MOS Chapter

The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Frederick Bird Club, which hosts fields trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.


Paved parking is available throughout the park; see Trail Map at link at left. Roadside parking is not permitted, and parking after sunset is not permitted outside the camping areas.


To reach the William Houck Area: from MD Route 15 in Thurmont, take MD Route 77/Foxville Road west for about 3 miles, turn left (south) onto Catoctin Hollow Road to the park entrance. To reach the Manor Area: from Thurmont, drive south 3 miles on MD Route 15; the park will be on the right. It is also possible to reach the Manor Area from the Houck area by using Catoctin Hollow Road. See map at link below.

Nearby Sites:

Frederick County: Audrey Carroll Audubon SanctuaryC&O Canal – Mouth of Monocacy to BrunswickCatoctin Mountain ParkFred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary ◾ Gambrill State Park ◾ Lilypons Water GardensSeymour B. Cooper MOS Sanctuary ◾ Sugarloaf Mountain


HedgerowsUpland Deciduous Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams


BeginnersBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchBoat RentalsCampingEntry Fee (Daily, All Year)FishingHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesHuntingNature Education ProgramsOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsSwimmingWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families


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