Catoctin Mountain Park

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this audio-described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Catoctin Mountain Park's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Catoctin Mountain Park visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 32 minutes which we have divided into 14 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 2-6 describe the front of the brochure and include information regarding the park's history and wildlife. Sections 7-14 describe the back of the brochure which consists of a map of the park and information about activities available.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park, located in Maryland, is part of the National Park System, within the Department of the Interior. The 6,154 acre park is situated 20 miles north of Frederick, Maryland. This park, established in 1935 as Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area, hosted Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps projects as part of the New Deal. In 1954, it was split into two parks, Cunningham Falls State Park which is run by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Catoctin Mountain Park, which is run by the National Park Service. Today, most visitors come from the Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania areas to hike, camp, rock climb, ride horses, and learn about history and nature.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure

The front of the brochure includes both modern and historic photos of the park. Section headings Simple Pleasures for all Seasons, At Home in the Mountains, A Natural Setting Restored, and Activities for Everyone, discuss different aspects of the park.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: Simple pleasures for all seasons

IMAGE 1 of 2: Chimney rock

DESCRIBING: A medium, horizontal photograph. 

DESCRIPTION: The vertical color photograph shows a scenic mountain range. The foreground is shaded rocky terrain connected to jagged rocky ledges. The rocks are tan and brown with a mossy green clinging to some rocks. The greater mountain range in the distance shows a very lush and green forest. Trees are framing the upper corners of the photo near the rocky ledges. The upper center of the image is light blue and mostly cloudy, transitioning into foggy mountain tops in the distance. 

CREDIT: NPS /Mark Muse

IMAGE 2 of 2: Camp Misty Mount

DESCRIBING: A medium, vertical photograph. 

DESCRIPTION:The vertical color photograph depicts an autumn setting amongst rustic wooden cabins. The foreground leads with a rocky road or path littered with freshly fallen leaves leading the eye into some tall dispersed trees. The trees display a range of fall colors including yellow, orange, green and brown. Just beyond the trees, dwarfed in comparison lie two log cabins, one located left center of the photo and the other right center of the photo. A third cabin just barely peaks out behind the cabin on the left. The cabins are built with reddish-brown logs stacked on top of one another, held together by white plaster or mud, which seals the individual logs. The cabins are build upon stone piers which support the structure from underneath. The roofs have a simple shape. The eye is drawn above the cabins into the colorful display of leaves and into a blue sky.

CREDIT: NPS /Mark Muse

RELATED TEXT: Catoctin Mountain Park was created during the Great Depression of the 1930s as a place for people to reconnect with nature. Today the park remains true to its origins and takes on new significance as new generations discover fiery autumn leaves, jewel like spring wildflowers, a stream flowing through a blanket of snow, or a trail through the woods to a spectacular valley view.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: At home in the mountains

IMAGE 1 of 2: Catoctin iron furnace

DESCRIBING: A small, horizontal photograph in black and white. 

DESCRIPTION: Black and white exterior photograph of the Catoctin Furnace building. The image is faded to a point it almost gives a transparent appearance. The image is taken at a distance and at an angle, revealing only the front and left side of the building. The furnace building is long and rectangular with two open windows and a single arched entryway on both its front and left side. Two large brick smokestacks tower from the back of the furnace building. A series of support beams on the left side of the building rise from the ground and rest alongside one of the smokestacks. To the immediate back left side and perpendicular to the furnace is a smaller, unidentified building which disappears off to the side of the image. A single person stands in the archway of the front of the furnace building. Several more people stand to the right side of the furnace. Four individuals, dressed in dark jackets and dark pants, stand closer to the photographer. At the distance of the image taken, gender or race of these people is indeterminate.

CREDIT: Thurmont Historical Society

IMAGE 2 of 2: Whiskey jug

DESCRIBING: A small, cut-out photograph. 

DESCRIPTION:  A transparent empty glass whiskey jug. The cylindrical jug tapers at the neck and has a ringed finger hole next to the mouth of the jug. From the finger hole an old, yellowed paper tag hangs. The glass jug has a slight bluish and green color. Through the glass and at the bottom, the bottom of the jug can be seen.

CREDIT: Museum of the Shenandoah Valley/Ron Blunt


Long before the arrival of Europeans, small tribes of American Indians hunted,  fished, and quarried stone here. By 1732, when settlers began to arrive in the Monocacy valley, Catoctin Mountain was neutral ground where no American Indians lived permanently. The name “Catoctin” probably came from the Kittoctons, who lived nearer to the Potomac River. The first pioneers were second generation Americans and German immigrants. They came west from Philadelphia, across the Susquehanna River, then southwest. They settled along the Monocacy River because of Lord Baltimore’s attractive offer of 200 acres of land rent free for three years and one cent per acre each year after. In the mid 1800s more Germans and some Swiss and Scots Irish came to the area. Early settlers found adequate natural resources to make a living. Many families established farms in the high valleys. Today you can see stone fences, cellar pits, and other remnants as you walk through the forest. Some settlers harvested oak and chestnut bark, rich sources of tannin, which supplied the developing tanneries in the Monocacy valley. The discovery of hematite (iron) in the region spawned a new industry iron production. The Catoctin iron furnace was built in the 1770s and operated for well over a hundred years. Its chief products were stoves, wheel rims, cannons and shot, and cast pieces for machinery. Founders, molders, finishers, miners, woodcutters, charcoal makers (colliers), and teamsters worked here. Enslaved and free African Americans worked skilled and unskilled jobs. Today you can see the remains of the furnace in Cunningham Falls State Park. Over the years logging, extensive cutting for charcoal making, and stripping of bark for tanning depleted the resources. It became harder for people to make a living, and many moved away. One of the last moneymaking products was whiskey. Transporting bulky corn and rye grains through the mountains to market had always proved troublesome and expensive. In the 1700s farmers began to distill grain into alcohol, which earned them a much greater profit. Taxes, and later Prohibition laws in the 1920s, forced the bootleggers into hiding. A 1929 raid on the Blue Blazes still, where a deputy sheriff was killed, spelled the much publicized end of large scale “moonshine” making. The Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail leads you to a replica of a typical farm still.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: A natural setting restored

IMAGE 1 of 3: WPA poster

DESCRIBING: A small, square photograph.

DESCRIPTION: This image is a square Works Progress Administration (WPA) poster. It is separated into three horizontal stripes of blue, white, and red. The text is written in all capital letters. The top blue stripe reads USA and has two white stars on either side. The center white stripe reads Work Program, and the bottom red stripe reads WPA.

CREDIT: National Archives

IMAGE 2 of 3: CCC trail crew, 1930s

DESCRIBING: A small, oval photograph in black and white. 

DESCRIPTION: This ovular black and white photograph was taken as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) trail crew worked to restore the native landscape of the park (circa 1930s). In the photo, five white men stare into the camera without smiling, sweat glistening on exposed areas of skin. They are standing in a sunlit clearing in front of a forest, in various stages of cleanliness and clothing. Three men are holding onto wheelbarrows laden with dirt and grassy debris. Above the sideways wheelbarrow in the right foreground of the photo, a shirtless man with arms wide leans heavily on his wheelbarrow.


IMAGE 3 of 3: Dog wood blossoms

DESCRIBING: A small, cut-out photograph. 

DESCRIPTION: Dogwood blossoms appear in the top left corner. They are white with a pink indent along the middle of the outer rim of the petals and have short, pointed green leaves at their base. Dogwoods are a restored native tree species present at the park.

CREDIT: Visual Unlimited


Catoctin Mountain Park got its start during the Great Depression. In 1935 the federal government bought over 10,000 acres and developed it as the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA). The program made public parks out of marginal farmland near cities. Forty six RDAs were created in 24 states, and most eventually became state or national parks. In 1936 the Works Progress Administration (WPA), another New Deal effort, hired hundreds of local men to build maintenance shops, picnic areas, cabin camps, and a visitor center. The park’s chestnut and oak trees were the ideal “log cabin” material for the rustic architecture. In 1939 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) set up camp at today’s Round Meadow. Their job was to return the depleted Catoctin landscape to native Eastern hardwood forest. They planted trees, turned old farmland into meadows, and restored streams to their natural flow, all of which encouraged the return of native species. The CCC also built roads, trails, guardrails, stone walls, and shelters. The park closed in 1941, on the eve of the US entry into World War II. The camps were drafted into the war effort as rehabilitation centers for sailors and marines and a training facility for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose Camp Hi Catoctin as a presidential retreat he called Shangri La. It was renamed Camp David in the 1950s by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Camp David is not open to the public. In 1954 the park was divided along Maryland Route 77. To the north is Catoctin Mountain Park, which remains in the National Park System. To the south is Cunningham Falls State Park, managed by the Maryland Park Service. The 1960s revived the spirit of the CCC when Camp Round Meadow became the nation’s first Job Corps center. The program, started by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his “War on Poverty,” combined work, education, and recreation for economically disadvantaged youth.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: Activities for everyone

IMAGE 1 of 3: Cross-country skier

DESCRIBING: A small, horizontal photograph. 


This shows a woman cross country skiing. The ground is covered by snow and the background of the photograph is of the forest, but there are no leaves on the trees. In the photograph the woman is skiing from right to left. She has long blonde hair and is wearing sunglasses. No facial expression is obvious because of her distance from the camera. She is wearing a dark brown vest and a lighter brown, long sleeve shirt or jacket under the vest. She also has on blue jeans, and she is wearing winter-weight black gloves with three white stripes.


IMAGE 2 of 3: Camper and counselor at Camp Greentop

DESCRIBING: A small, vertical photograph. 


This photograph is of a white boy approximately eight or nine years old and a Black woman. They are looking at each other, and the boy is smiling. The counselor’s eyebrows are raised, and her mouth is open, expressing surprise or joy. They both have their hands raised as if they are singing or playing a game. It appears the boy is sitting on something that elevates him to her chest height. The boy has medium colored, short cropped hair. He is wearing dark glasses with a strap above his ear, a light gray T shirt and black shorts with two vertical stripes that go down his right leg. The woman has short, curly, dark brown hair and is wearing a light green short-sleeved top. There are trees in the background.

CREDIT: The Gazette/Tom Fedor

IMAGE 3 of 3: Rock climber

DESCRIBING: A medium, cut-out photograph. 

DESCRIPTION: This is a photograph of a young white man using ropes and other technical climbing equipment to climb a rock face. He is pictured from his head to his ankles. His right side is facing the camera and his right hand is outstretched to touch the rough rocks. The man is wearing a blue safety helmet and a black climbing harness which wraps around his hips and thighs. His mouth is partially opened into a slight smile. He has on a white, short sleeved T shirt, khaki colored shorts and black leggings.


RELATED TEXT: Catoctin Mountain Park is full of stories, best told via its 25 miles of trails. Old stone fences, logging roads, charcoal making exhibits, and high valley vistas tell us how people once valued this land for its commercial resources. Trails through the regrowth of red oaks, birches, dogwoods, maples, and other trees remind us that nature brings us wealth by simply being itself. 

Trails vary from the wheelchair-accessible Spicebush trail to the strenuous Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock trails. About six miles of trail are designated for horse use. For detailed descriptions, ask at the visitor center or visit 

Cabin camps offer accommodations for one or more nights. Misty Mount and Greentop were built in the 1930s. Cabins house three to 12 people. There are centrally located bathrooms and dining halls. Guarded swimming pools are available in the summer months. 

Round Meadow has more modern facilities with dormitory-style lodging, a dining hall, and full gymnasium. It is designed for large groups and can be used in all seasons. Greentop and Round Meadow are wheelchair accessible. Big Hunting Creek was the first stream in Maryland designated as fly fishing only and the first catch and release trout stream. State fishing regulations apply. 

In winter, some sections of park roads are closed to vehicular traffic and opened for winter recreation. Most park trails are narrow, steep, and rocky, but a few sections are good for skiing. Safe trail skiing requires a snow base of six to eight inches. Note that all trails are designed for hiking, not skiing. 

Bouldering is allowed throughout the park, but rock climbing and rappelling are allowed only in designated areas by permit.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure

The back side of the brochure is mostly occupied by a large park map. Text on the left third (with section headings "Things to See and Do", "Camping and Cabins", "Good Stewardship Begins with you", and "More Information") describes different activities, lodging, regulations, and resources park visitors may need while planning their trip. There are also six color photos highlighting different locations and animals within the park. The map, which is the right two thirds of the page, shows the entirety of Catoctin Mountain Park as well as neighboring Cunningham Falls State Park and the town of Thurmont.

↑ back to top

IMAGE and TEXT: Things to do and see

DESCRIBING: A medium, horizontal photograph. 


A flowing stream bed, lined with irregularly shaped gray stones, snakes through a predominantly deciduous forest. Orange leaves are scattered at the bases of densely packed tree trunks. These trunks climb upwards and out of the frame of the photograph. Although the foreground of the photo is cast in shadow, in the background sunshine illuminates brown, green, and orange hues, revealing some evergreen trees and trees that still wear their colorful leaves.

CAPTION: Big Hunting Creek. 

CREDIT: NPS/ Terry Adams


The Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center: has exhibits and information to help you plan your visit. Groups of 10 or more may require a permit; reserve in advance. Program schedules are available at the visitor center or on the park website. 

Cunningham Falls State Park, south of Maryland Rt 77, is managed by Maryland Park Service. It has hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting. Call (301) 271-7574 or visit 

Scenic Drives: Park roads wind through woods and along streams. Portions of Park Central Road and Manahan Road are closed in winter. 

Trails: The park has over 25 miles of hiking trails (chart, upper right). Hikes may take longer in winter months when some parking areas are closed. Horseback riding is permitted on 6 miles of trail. Trailer parking is across from Camp Greentop spring through fall. 

Picnic Areas:  Owens Creek picnic area has tables and grills. Chestnut picnic area has restrooms, tables, and grills. Additional tables are available at the Thurmont Vista parking area, Hog Rock parking area, and near the visitor center. Grilling is permitted only at developed picnic areas that provide grills. 

Wildlife Viewing:  The park is home to dozens of species of animals, making it an ideal place for seeing wildlife. Please observe from a distance and never feed them . 

Climbing and Bouldering: For the beginner and recreational climber, the park offers challenges in a beautiful mountain setting. Climbing at Wolf Rock requires a permit from 

Crosscountry Skiing: When conditions produce a 6 to 8 inch base of packed snow, the closed portions of Park Central and Manahan Roads allow for runs of several miles.

↑ back to top

IMAGES: Park sights

DESCRIBING: A column of six small, square photographs. 

IMAGE 1 of 6: Chimney Rock

DESCRIPTION: The vertical color photograph shows a scenic mountain range. The foreground shows very rocky terrain and jagged rocky ledges. The rocks are tan and brown with a mossy green clinging to some rocks. The greater mountain range in the distance shows a very lush and green forest. Trees are framing the upper corners of the photo near the rocky ledges. The upper center of the image is light blue and mostly cloudy, transitioning into foggy mountain tops in the distance. 

CAPTION: Chimney Rock.

CREDIT: Claudio Silva

IMAGE 2 of 6: Campsite

DESCRIPTION: This square photograph depicts a forest of the eastern United States during peak fall colors. In the foreground of the image a bright blue tent is set up. The tent door is partially open, with a little bit of white color near the upper door. Freshly fallen leaves are thickly scattered all around the tent. Most of the picture displays a forest full of deciduous trees with colorful leaves. The leaves range in color from yellow, orange, green and brown. The trunks of the trees appear to be dark brown almost wet.

CAPTION: Campsite.


IMAGE 3 of 6: Buckeye butterfly

DESCRIPTION: This colorful Buckeye butterfly is primarily brown with four conspicuous, target shaped eyespots on each wing that are purple to black in color and encircled by a tan ring. The edges of the wings are bordered by tan and black stripes which yield to irregular bands of orange. Each forewing has broad off white bands that touch and encircle one of the four eyespots. The butterfly is resting on a bright pink daisy like flower with spiked petals.

CAPTION: Buckeye butterfly.

CREDIT: NPS / Alicia Lefever

IMAGE 4 of 6: Spicebush Nature Trail

DESCRIPTION: An adult man using a wheelchair rolls down the Spicebush Nature Trail from left to right. The trail has a hard surface consisting of compacted brown material. The forest surrounding the trail and the foliage in the foreground are lush green. On the right edge of the photograph is a colorful sign that provides information about what can be seen along the trail. The man is wearing a striped polo shirt, blue jeans, and brown boots.

CAPTION: Spicebush Nature Trail (hard surface).

CREDIT: Zeager Bros., Inc.

IMAGE 5 of 6: Bear

DESCRIPTION: A black bear leaning its front forepaws onto a fallen tree. Its rear legs are not visible as a dead and partially moss covered log runs alongside the entire bottom width of the image. The bears rounded ears and brown muzzle are prominently displayed as it is looking directly at the camera. Hints of a forest background are given as several blurred shapes of grey tree trunks and a small flash of clustered green leaves are in the background.

CAPTION: Be bear aware!

CREDIT: Rue Wildlife Photos

IMAGE 6 of 6: Blacksmith demonstration

DESCRIPTION: A blacksmith stands poised over an anvil hammering a piece of metal. He is white, in his 60s, has neatly cut white hair, and his gaze is focused on the anvil over which he works. He is wearing a long-sleeved shirt that has a small white pattern on his left breast. Wrapped around his waist is a white apron. His left hand holds the iron bar that is resting on the top of the anvil. The tip of the bar tip glows red hot. Poised in his right hand is his hammer, raised approximately one foot above the bar. Behind him is the small forge of the blacksmith shop. Although not visible, the glow of the forge brightens a section of the stone wall behind him. The forge area glows a bright orange. Long, black metal bars and tools along the rest of the stone wall are seen over his left shoulder.

CAPTION: Blacksmith demonstration.

CREDIT: NPS /Craig Kuhn

↑ back to top

TEXT: Camping and cabins

Cabins and camping facilities require advance reservations through Visit the park website for details. Camping is permitted only in established campgrounds, cabins, and shelters. Owens Creek Campground is for families and small groups. Poplar Grove is a tenting area for organized youth groups. Three sided, wooden Adirondack shelters offer solitude for hike in campers. Individual cabins can be rented at Camp Misty Mount. Cabins or dorms for groups are available at Camp Greentop and Camp Round Meadow. All camps are excellent outdoor classrooms for environmental education.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Good stewardship begins with you

• Federal law protects all natural and cultural features. Do not collect or damage them. 

• Follow posted speed limits. 

• Park in designated areas only. 

• Do not park in day use areas after dusk. 

• Build fires only in fire rings. Grills are for cooking purposes only. 

• Store food away from wild animals, especially bears. 

• Keep pets on a leash and attended at all times. 

• Keep pets out of buildings and away from group camps. 

• Bicycles are not permitted on trails. 

• Horses are allowed only on designated horse trails. 

• Camp David, the Presidential Retreat, is not visible from the road and is not open to the public. 

For a complete list of regulations, including firearms information, check the park website.

↑ back to top

MAP: Area around and within the Catoctin Mountain Park

DESCRIBING: A large, vertical map. 


This is a wayfinding map and is orientated with north at the top. It identifies the major roads in and around Catoctin Mountain Park, the neighboring Cunningham Falls State Park, and the closest town, Thurmont. Map symbols show locations of parking, picnic areas, camping, lodging, restrooms, and the visitor center.

The map shows close to 6,000 acres of Catoctin Mountain Park in dark green and approximately 4,000 acres of neighboring Cunningham Falls State Park in a lighter green. Route 77 (Foxville Road) is the primary access road into the two parks. It also defines the boundary between the two parks. Route 77 is identified by a solid red line which crosses the entire map from east to west just below the map’s centerline. It connects to State Route 15 in the town of Thurmont which is east of the two parks on the far right side of the map. State Route 15 runs north to south through Thurmont. 

Another major roadway on the map is Park Central Road which connects the park visitor center located on Route 77 to facilities throughout the park. It is about five miles long and is also identified by a red line. Three parking areas are located one half mile, 1 mile,  and 1.5 miles from the visitor center. These parking areas serve as trailheads.

Two other roads traverse the park in a northeast-southwest direction on the west side of the park and intersect with Park Central Road. They are Manahan Road which is 4 miles from the visitor center, and Foxville Deerfield Road which is 5 miles from the visitor center. They are identified on the map by black or gray lines.

A legend at the bottom left corner of the map identifies the following amenities: parking, ranger stations, picnic areas, cabin camp, wheelchair-accessible, public campground, sleeping shelter and scenic viewpoint. In addition, the trail types and map scale can be found there.

Catoctin Mountain Park offers more than 25 miles of trails which are open year round. They are rated easy to strenuous. Several trails lead to vistas or overlooks while others are more gradual. The Spicebush Trail, located in Chestnut Picnic Area, and the Sawmill trail, located near Owens Creek Campground, are wheelchair accessible. Some of the trails on the west side are horse friendly. The Catoctin National Recreation Trail winds north to south through the west side of the park and extends into Cunningham Falls State Park and beyond. A legend at the top right corner of the brochure lists the park trails, their length, difficulty level and starting point.

Options for camping and lodging are located along one of the three park roads. They are seasonal and include: family camping at Owens Creek Campground, youth group camping at Poplar Grove, historic cabins for families and individuals at Camp Misty Mount, historic cabins for groups at Camp Greentop, and dormitory lodging for groups at Camp Round Meadow. Adirondack shelters are for more primitive camping and are located three miles from a parking area. For additional information and reservations visit:

There are two picnic areas in the park. Chestnut Picnic Area located along Park Central Road about 3.5 miles from the visitor center and Owens Creek Picnic Area about one half mile north from the intersection of Park Central Road and Foxville-Deerfield Road.

Across State Route 77 is Cunningham Falls State Park. It consists of two primary visitor areas. The William Houck Area includes a campground and lake for fishing and swimming. It is accessible from Catoctin Hollow Road which is near the Catoctin Mountain Park visitor center. The Manor Area is located off State Route 15 about 2.5 miles south of Thurmont. For more information about Cunningham Falls State Park call (301) 271-7574.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Accessibility

Catoctin Mountain Park offers two wheelchair accessible trails.  The Sawmill Trail near Owens Creek Campground is a wooden boardwalk, and the Spicebush Trail by the Chestnut Picnic Area has a packed mulch surface. In addition, neighboring Cunningham Falls State Park offers a wooden boardwalk to the falls. Handicapped parking for the falls is located on Maryland Route 77 about one mile west of the park visitor center. Catoctin has Braille park guides available.  Please ask a ranger or volunteer. We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information stop at the visitor center, call, or check the park website.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: More information

Catoctin Mountain Park is one of over 400 areas in the National Park System. To learn more visit,

ADDRESS: Catoctin Mountain Park 6602 Foxville Rd. Thurmont, MD 21788 

PHONE: 301-663-9388 


↑ back to top

By using this site, you agree to follow our Terms, Conditions, License, Privacy Policy, and Research Protocols.