In the 1930's, after years of making charcoal to fuel the iron furnace, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, land was purchased to be transformed into a productive recreation area; helping to put people back to work during the great depression.
Beginning in 1935, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was under construction by both the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Originally planned to provide recreational camps for federal employees, one of the camps eventually became the home of the Presidential retreat, Camp David.
The Presidential retreat is not open or accessible to the public, but the eastern hardwood forest of Catoctin Mountain Park has many other attractions for
visitors. With 25 miles of hiking trails winding through both Catoctin Mountain Park and
Cunningham Falls State Park a variety of experiences are available ranging from easy to strenuous, many leading to outstanding scenic vistas. The roads of Catoctin Mountain Park offer scenic driving all
year. Camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, fly-fishing, cross country skiing are all available at Catoctin Mountain Park.
The Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center includes a small exhibit area featuring native wildlife and cultural history. Charcoal Industry as related to the Catoctin Iron Furnace located in neighboring Cunningham Falls State Park, Whiskey Still Industry, Sawmill Industry, and local farming are featured. The Visitors Center is open all year. From Highway 15 North, exit onto MD State Route 77 west, approximately 3.5 miles turn right onto Park Central Road and turn right into the Visitor Center parking lot. (301) 663-9388.
From Washington DC take the George Washington Memorial Parkway north to I495 beltway to I270 north 27 miles to Frederick, MD. Take Route 15 17 miles north to Thurmont, MD. Take Route 77 West, the exit sign is marked Catoctin Mountain Park. Travel approximately 3 miles west on 77 and turn right onto Park Central Road. The Visitor Center is on the right.
From Baltimore, MD. Take I695 beltway to I70 West to Frederick, MD. Take Route 15 North to Thurmont, MD. Take Route 77 West (the exit sign says Catoctin Mountain Park. Travel approximately 3 miles west on 77 and turn right onto Park Central Road. The Visitor Center is on the right.
From Hagerstown, MD, I70 east to Route 66 north for seven miles to right on Route 64 for 1 mile to right onto Route 77 East at a traffic light. Continue on Route 77 East for approximately 7 miles. Turn left onto Park Central Road and the Visitor Center is on the right.
From Gettysburg, PA: Route 15 south. In Thurmont, MD, exit onto Route 77 West(the exit sign says Catoctin Mountain Park, go approximately 3 miles, turn right onto Park Central Road and the Visitor Center is on the right.