Cunningham Falls

Cunningham Falls

Cunningham Falls State Park is a state park located west of Thurmont in the Catoctin Mountains and bordering the Catoctin Mountain Park to the north. It features the 78 foot (24 meter) cascading waterfalls which is the largest in Maryland, a 43-acre (17 ha) man-made lake, and Catoctin Furnace, a historic iron furnace in the park.

Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans used the area for fishing, hunting and for rhyolite to make projectile weapons. During the 19th century, European settlers began to cut down the forests to make charcoal to power the Catoctin iron furnace. The “charcoal flats” were used as charcoal kilns. The furnance is approximately 25 feet (7.6 m) by 25 feet (7.6 m) square areas cut flat into the hillsides and linked by mule trails. After many years of deforestation, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, the clear cutting and abuse of the forest led to the degradation of the land.

The Federal government purchased the land in 1930 and transformed it into a productive recreation area, putting people back to work during the Great Depression.


Frog Habitat

Beginning in 1935, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was under construction by both the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The northern portion of the park was transferred to the National Park Service on November 14, 1936. On July 12, 1954, Cunningham Falls with the southern 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) was transferred to Maryland. Cunningham falls is locally known as McAfee Falls after a family of early settlers. Cunningham Falls was apparently named after a photographer from Pen Mar Park who frequently photographed the falls. Today, Cunningham falls is used for hiking, hunting, swimming, boating, fishing, and camping. It is also the site of Big Hunting Creek, one of Maryland’s premier trout streams.

Catoctin and Cunninghamm Falls Map
Cunningham Falls Map
Address: 14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont, MD 21788
Telephone: (301) 271-7574