Frederick County
Cunningham Falls State Park
14039 Catoctin Hollow Road,
Thurmont, MD 21788

14274 William Houck Drive
Thurmont, MD 21788

5783 Campground Drive
Thurmont, MD 21788

6709 Cunningham Falls Park Road
Thurmont, MD 21788



Driving Directions:

​The William Houck Area, located three miles west of Thurmont on Route 77, has the lake area, falls and camping. The Manor Area three miles south of Thurmont off Route 15 has the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.​

Hours of Operation:

​8 a.m. to Sunset, April-October

10 a.m. to Sunset, November-March

By regulation, vehicles are not permitted to be parked after sunset. Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.​

Pet Policy:

  • Cunningham Falls Campgrounds: Pets are allowed in Addison Run, Bear Branch, and the Manor Area camping loops.
  • Houck Area:Pets allowed on all trails. Pets allowed anywhere in the day-use area except for sandy portion of the beach and lake from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
  • Manor Area: Pets are allowed in the day-use area and trails.

Hunting Policy:

  • General hunting permitted in 4,400 acre designated hunting area
  • Nighttime furbearer hunting by permit only
  • Hunting permitted Monday-Saturday
  • Hunt from Vehicle provisions for disabled hunters
  • Provisions for hunters with mobility impairments

Cunningham Falls State Park


Cunningham Falls State Park is located in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains. It is divided into two separate but unique areas. The William Houck Area located three miles west of Thurmont on Route 77 has the lake area, falls and camping area. The Manor Area off Route 15 three miles south of Thurmont has the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.

Outdoor activity is everywhere at Cunningham Falls State Park. Leisure opportunities like swimming, hiking, fishing and canoeing are available. For those who wish to get away for either a night or longer there are campsites and camper cabins available for rental from April through October.

Construction Updates

The Maryland Park Service and the staff of Cunningham Falls State Park are always trying to improve our facilities to make them safer, more efficient and more accessible for our visitors. Please read below for a list of current and upcoming projects that may impact your visit.

William Houck Day-Use Renovation - This capital project is set to begin in 2018 and and may last for up to two years. The work planned during this project include the replacement of one bathroom, renovation of the Houck Nature Center, improvements to the South Beach swimming areas, upgrading South Beach picnic pads, expanding the entrance station and improve storm water management. This will impact day-use visitors with area closures and reduced parking and we anticipate an increase in park capacity closures over the summer.

Camp Store - Our Camp store will be receiving some much needed attention with interior and exterior renovation projects. This work will be ongoing periodically throughout the summer and into the fall. The store will remain open during the work and we think you will like the changes.

construction at cunningham Falls

Catoctin Furnace Ruins - This project is an ongoing effort to stabilize the ruins of the historic Iron Master's House ruins located in the Manor Area of the park. Phase II was completed in December of 2016 with Phase III scheduled to begin in 2018. The Friends of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks, Inc. have been leading the effort to find grant funding to protect this important part of the Catoctin Furnace Historic District. If you would like to help support this effort to preserve our local history visit www.cunninghamgambrill.org to learn how.

We apologize for any inconvenience the construction plans cause our park patrons. If you have any questions, please call the park office at 301-271-7574, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Feel free to email the Park Manager at: mark.spurrier@maryland.gov. Also, please continue to check this website for updates and sign up for our Twitter account for the most up to date information on park closures.

The staff and volunteers at Cunningham Falls State Park strive to make your visit a pleasant one. If you have any questions or concerns please let us know.

Maple Syrup Demonstrations

This annual event takes place the middle two weekends in March in the William Houck Area. Watch park rangers demonstrate the traditional way to turn sap into delicious maple syrup. Enjoy a pancake and sausage breakfast and children's activities while listening to live folk and bluegrass music. This program benefits the Friends of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks. There is a service charge for this event. Please contact the park for more information. Save the date: March 9-10, and March 16-17, 2019.  

Camp Host Opportunities

Camp Host opportunities are here for the 2018 camping season. Camp Host Opportunities are available at Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks.

Cunningham Falls State Park Trail Map

A new map of the trails at Cunningham Falls State Park can be downloaded for free from this website. Please make sure to read the printing instructions and information for how to download the file to cell phones. The map is in a PDF format that requires Adobe Reader. To get the free Adobe Reader go to Adobe.com.


Maryland is home to a large diversity of wildlife including many species of snakes. Snakes are rarely aggressive towards humans. If you encounter a snake simply maintain a safe distance and move away from it. Only two kinds of snakes inhabiting Maryland are venomous: the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. Both species have been documented in the park.


Swimming is allowed in three designated areas of Hunting Creek Lake, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty Tuesday through Sunday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., Memorial Day to Labor Day. For your safety and the protection of the natural resource swimming is not allowed at the Falls. Please remember to arrive early as the park often reaches capacity by mid to late morning on weekends and holidays. If the park reaches capacity, visitors will be turned away.

Bus/Van Reservations

Reservations are required for buses and vans (vans containing 15 passengers or more) at Cunningham Falls. There is a non-refundable reservation charge, plus a day use service charge. There is a maximum of 5 buses/vans permitted per day (depending upon staffing levels). If you do not have a reservation and arrive at the park, entry into the area may be denied. There are special supervision requirements for youth groups of one adult for every five youth (1:5 ratio). Groups that do not meet this requirement will be turned away. No buses/vans are permitted on summer weekends and holidays. To make a reservation, call 1-888-432-CAMP (2267). For more information, call the park directly at (301) 271-7574.


The Cunningham Falls State Park trail system varies in terrain from short, flat hikes to steep and rocky ascents that will challenge even the experienced hiker. Trail distances vary from .5 mile to 7.5 miles.

  • Lower Trail--red blaze (one half mile) This easy to moderate trail is the shortest and easiest access to the Falls. Interpretive signs and benches along the way. Return to the lake by this trail or Cliff Trail. This trail terminates at the Falls.
  • Cliff Trail--yellow blaze (3/4 mile) Rough terrain offers strenuous hiking past rock outcrops that lead to the Falls. Return to the lake by this trail or Lower Trail.
  • Campground Trail--orange blaze (3/4 mile) This Cunningham Falls State Parkstrenuous trail gives campers access to the Cliff Trail.
  • Old Misery Trail--orange blaze (2 miles) This steep, strenuous trail with many switchbacks and scenic views connects with the Cat Rock Trail.
  • Cat Rock/Bob's Hill--yellow blaze (7.5 miles) This strenuous trail crosses the mountain and passes two scenic rock outcrops with scenic views.
  • Cat Rock Trail--yellow blaze (1.5 miles) This steep, strenuous trail leads to Cat Rock (elevation 1560') and scenic views.
  • Bob's Hill Trail--yellow (1.5 miles) This steep, strenuous trail leads to Bob's Hill (elevation 1765') and two short spur trails with views north and south.
  • Catoctin Furnace Trail--No blaze (1/4 mile) A self-guided trail which leads to Catoctin Furnace. Crosses U.S. 15 via elevated foot path (46 steps up the stairway).
  • Catoctin Trail--blue blaze (27 miles) This strenuous trail leads from Gambrill State Park through Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls and Catoctin Mountain Park. Nine miles of trail are in Cunningham Falls. Camping permitted only in designated campgrounds.
    Horseback riding is permitted only on that part of the Catoctin Trail that is located between the park boundary with the Frederick City Municipal Watershed and the Manor Area. Horseback riding is not permitted in the Houck Area that includes the lake and the falls.

Picnicking at the William Houck Area

Picnic tables and grills are available near the lake area Lakeside at Cunningham Fallson a first come, first served basis. There are no cover pavilions or shelters in this area. Please remember to arrive early as the park often reaches capacity by mid to late morning on weekends, holidays and even some weekdays during the summer swim season.

Picnicking in the Manor Area

Picnic tables and grills are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A picnic shelter is available by reservation only. The shelter holds 150 people. The shelter was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) out of native stone many years prior to the installation of Route 15. It is recommended that you visit the shelter prior to making your reservation due to its proximity to the highway.


A boat ramp for launching private watercraft onto Hunting Creek Lake is available for a small service charge. Only electric motors are permitted, no gasoline motors. A boat concession on Hunting Creek Lake rents boats during the summer season. 


Hunting is permitted on 4,400 acres of wildlands in accordance with statewide hunting regulations. The hunting area consists of forested terrain with steep access routes.

A reservations only deer hunting area is available for hunters with a Hunt from the Vehicle Permit. Reservations are required. Reservations are taken starting the day after Labor Day at 8:00 am. Reservations can be made either in person at the Park Administration Office or by calling 301-271-7574. Reservations can be made for Deer Firearm Season and the first week of Muzzleloader Season.

Be sure to consult your Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for season dates and bag limits.

View the Cunningham Falls State Park Hunting Map and information

Hunters may enter / remain on park property outside of the regular posted hours provided that they are engaged in legitimate, authorized hunting activity.


Cunningham Falls State Park has several opportunitiesFishermen at Cunningham Falls for fishing. A Maryland Freshwater Sport Fishing License is required for all fishermen over 15 years old. Be sure to consult the Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide for creel and size limits prior to your fishing trip.

Hunting Creek Lake is a put and take trout area. An accessible fishing pier is located off of Catoctin Hollow Road next to the boat ramp. Fishermen can also fish for bass, bluegills, sunfish, crappie and catfish.

Big Hunting Creek along MD Route 77, as well as its tributaries within Cunningham Falls State Park, is a catch and release trout stream limited to artificial fly fishing only. Use of conventional fly fishing tackle and artificial flies must be used.

Little Hunting Creek in the Manor Area is a catch and release trout stream limited to the use of artificial lures and flies only. Spinning gear may be used.


Cunningham Falls State Park has campsites in both the William Houck Area and the Manor Area.

The William Houck Area Campground has 106 basic sites, 33 sites with electric hook-up. The William Houck Area campground is open April through October. Click here for map and site descriptions.

The Manor Area Campground has 21 basic sites and 10 sites with electric hook-up. Camping is available year round; however services are limited from November 1 through March 31. All campground amenities are open April 1 - October 31.  Click here for map and site descriptions.

Each site is approximately 23’ X 23’ made of stone dust and has a picnic table and fire ring. There is a bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets centrally located in the middle of each camping loop.

Reservations are recommended for both areas, since they often fill weeks or months in advance.

Campground Check In Hours:
Before Memorial Day Weekend and after Labor Day: hours for checking into a camper cabin or campsite are: Sunday through Thursday 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. 

Beginning the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day: hours for checking into a camper cabin or campsite are: 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. 

Cabins are to be checked out and vacated by 12 p.m. and campsites are to be checked out and vacated by 1 p.m. on the last day of the reservation. 

Tips for camping in black bear country: Bears do visit our campgrounds. Here are a few simple reminders to help keep you and the bears safe and ensure that you have an enjoyable stay.
  • Never keep food in your tent.
  • Store food and garbage out of a bear's reach by storing food securely in the trunk of your vehicle.
  • Remove your trash from your site daily and place in the campground dumpsters.
  • Remember to secure your pet’s food also.
  • If a bear comes into camp, don't feed it! Scare it away by making noise.
  • See a park employee to get more detailed information on how to camp in black bear country or visit: Living with Black Bears.

Camper Cabins

The William Houck Area Campground has 9 four-person camper cabins and 4 six-person camper cabins. Each cabin site has a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post. All cooking must be done outside the cabin. The cabins have no heat. Campers may bring an electric heater or fan. Heat sources should not be left on while the cabin is unattended. No propane heaters are allowed. Campers must provide their own linens.

Reservations are recommended since the camper cabins often fill weeks or months in advance.


man pitching a tent

It's never too late to discover the joys of sitting around a roaring campfire, roasting marshmallows or sleeping under the stars!

With the new OPERATION: CAMPOUT! Program, we can lend you gear free of charge (includes a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more). This program is designed for military individuals and military families new to camping or experienced campers stationed or recovering in this area.OPERATION: CAMPOUT! is an opportunity for families to reconnect with each other and the great outdoors in a comfortable, safe and relaxing setting.

Campsites have picnic tables and fire pits. Some sites have electric hook-ups. Restrooms and shower facilities are nearby. Contact the park office directly by phone to make your reservation. Be sure to let us know you are reserving through OPERATION: CAMPOUT!

Alcohol Policy

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all State Park areas, including campgrounds. The only exception at Cunningham Falls State Park is the Manor Area Shelter if you purchase an alcohol permit, upon making a reservation.

Interpretive Programs

  • Scales and Tales Program -- Scales & Tales is an environmental education program. This is an educational and entertaining program. Live birds of prey and reptiles that cannot be returned to the wild are shown to your group. Using stories or "tales" of how these animals came to be in the care of Cunningham Falls State Park, naturalists talk about important environmental issues. The Scales & Tales animals are on display in the Aviary in the Manor Area. Click here for a more detailed description of the Scales and Tales Programs available.
  • Historic Catoctin Iron Furnace -- The historic Catoctin Iron Furnace, located along Route 806 in Frederick County, Maryland was a site for iron-making for 127 years from 1776 to 1903. This landmark on the National Historic Register is a place where visitors can step back in time. Click here for more detailed information on the Historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.


Online Services

Contact the Park Service

  • To Report Violations of Park Rules: 1-800-825-7275 (Park Watch) or 1-410-260-8888 (Communications Center)
  • General Information: 1-800-830-3974 (Annapolis Office)
  • Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
  • Email Us
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Plan Ahead for "Filled To Capacity" Park Closures

Cunningham Falls State Park is one of Maryland’s most popular parks and serves a very high volume of visitors during summer weekends and holidays. To ensure the safety of our visitors and protection of the park’s natural resources and facilities, the park has a limited capacity.

During periods of high visitation, when the park’s capacity is reached, the park will be closed and traffic will be turned away from the park entrance. When that occurs, no additional vehicles / visitors will be allowed to enter the park, including those with members of their party who may already be in the park. If you are not traveling in the same vehicle with others in your party, we suggest that you all arrive at the same time.

When the park is closed due to being full to capacity, individuals and groups with shelter and/or camping reservations will be admitted, as parking is reserved for those purposes.

Based on recent experience and visitation trends, and depending on good weather, Cunningham Falls State Park will likely fill to capacity and close on Memorial Day and Fourth of July holiday weekends, and other weekends during the course of the summer. Please take this into consideration when planning your trip.

Please DO NOT rely on cell phones for communication while in the park. Many phones and carriers do not get service in the Catoctin Mountains. Please plan ahead and use the appropriate addresses (under location) to coordinate your trip ahead of time.​