Washington, DC: Blue Ridge Overlook to Cunningham Falls

Escape on a 5-mile loop through Catoctin Mountain Park, where healthy hardwoods, unique fungi, and a host of fauna conceal this area's industrial past.
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Escape on a 5-mile loop through Catoctin Mountain Park, where healthy hardwoods, unique fungi, and a host of fauna conceal this area's industrial past.

With 25 miles of trails tucked into a network just 90 minutes north of D.C., Catoctin Mountain Park offers options for all levels of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. This 5-mile loop starts from the Visitors Center and hikes gentle grades under a mix of maple and oak forest. Along the way you'll hike past several overlooks and a old coal-mining site before arriving at Cunningham Falls, a 78-foot, photo-worthy cascade.
-Mapped by Peter Qureini

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.1

Waypoints

Big Hunting Creek

Location: 39.632355, -77.46875

Stop to listen to the soothing melody of Big Hunting Creek gurgling on its rocky course as you follow the Boardwalk Trail towards Cunningham Falls.
©Peter Qureini

Hog Rock Overlook

Location: 39.642586, -77.459122

At Hog Rock Overlook, woodpeckers search the hardwood bark for savory meals of caterpillars
©Peter Qureini

Thurmont Vista

Location: 39.647808, -77.443367

From Thurmont Vista, gaze over the treetops of a 2nd-growth maple/oak forest to view town in SE valley
©Peter Qureini

Unrooted obstacles

Location: 39.63261, -77.463699

The dirt still clings to a nearly complete root system exposed from the earth beside the trail.
© Peter Qureini

CAT001

Location: 39.63377, -77.449516

Begin hiking N on quiet, well-marked trail under deciduous trees

CAT002

Location: 39.638821, -77.445137

Stay L; follow Blue Ridge Summit/ Hog Rock sign

CAT003

Location: 39.644989, -77.442863

Continue straight; this forest was once heavily harvested for charcoal to fuel the Catoctin Iron Furnace. Nearby, pass 15-ft. wood sled used to haul timber to furnace

CAT004

Location: 39.647652, -77.44342

Straight; enter delightful 2nd-growth maple/oak forest. Option: Turn R to Thurmont Vista to view town in SE valley

CAT005

Location: 39.649311, -77.451607

Trail climbs steeply to Blue Ridge Summit; rest on picturesque boulder

CAT006

Location: 39.6465, -77.45372

Cross small parking lot; trail picks up on S side

CAT007

Location: 39.642441, -77.459167

At Hog Rock Overlook, pileated woodpeckers work tree bark

CAT008

Location: 39.632889, -77.467972

Heading S, cross MD 7; enter Cunningham Falls SP, take Boardwalk Trail WSW. Restoration here began in '30s after years of clear-cutting and farm erosion

CAT009

Location: 39.631649, -77.470306

Cunningham Falls: Quiet 78-ft. cascade on Big Hunting Creek. Return to WPT 8, turn R to close loop

CAT010

Location: 39.632469, -77.463989

Follow Falls Nature Trail NE

CAT011

Location: 39.633831, -77.457298

Continue straight to return to visitor center