I LOVE Catoctin Mountain Park in general!! The trails are well-kept and the scenery remains as natural as possible (I hate it when you go to some parks and it looks forced or man-made).
The Houck area is pretty wide-spread with sites ranging from dispersed walk-in to camping by the lake. There’s pretty much something for everyone.
But, let’s talk about the lake for a sec… Hunting Creek Lake is a 75 acre man-made lake near Cunningham Falls. Ironically, all the streams and creeks in the area couldn’t make a sufficient lake, therefore one was created. It’s labeled as great for boating, kayaking, and fishing. There were even paddle boats available. It’s quite picturesque from the get-go.
But, once we got in, I have to admit I was thoroughly disgusted. I love swimming in natural water features, but this kinda creeped me out. There was all sorts of algae and growth in the water. We would hit pockets and cold and warm water, which felt like you were walking through someone’s urine — there wasn’t much circulation or movement of the water, so it gets stagnant-feeling. Not to mention the abrupt drop-off when you enter into the lake. Nothing natural feeling about this place.
I give the park 5 stars, but the lake only gets 3, if that.
Several different camping areas with about 150 places. We had a good site near the showers. Well looked after and plenty to do for our 5 year old with evening activities. Picnic bench, fireplace, gravel camp area. Near to the falls though I think walking from the campsite would have been tough with the kid.
It rained most of the weekend, but we still had a blast! The trail to the lake is accessible but far enough that you avoid the high day use traffic. The campsites have trees and some privacy.
This campground is fantastic! Great sites and clean facilities!! If you’re there around Columbus Day weekend, check out Colorfest in the town of Thurmont!!
Cunningham Falls State Park - Houck Area, (http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/western/cunningham.aspx) is pretty big and has much to offer…but part of the beauty is it is literally 5 miles down the road from Catoctin Mountain Park, a National Park Service with additional trails to enjoy.
Nestled away in the Catoctin Mountains, it lands further away from Camp David, so the likelihood of it being negatively affected during dignitary or presidential visits is slim. Unlike the trails at Catoctin Mountain Park which will see closings.
There are 149 sites to choose from, yes…149…in five different loops that continue to wind their way up the mountain. There are very few electric sites on the three lower loops, the fourth loop is all electric sites, but water is relegated to water spigots…3 to 4 spaced out in each loop. Be mindful that on some loops, one side of the upper loop can look down onto some of the sites on the lower loop… but they are spaced out. There is some ground cover between sites but you still have line of sight with your neighbors. There are also Camper Cabins available too. Each site provides a picnic table and fire ring. Gathering downed firewood is permitted.
They also permit up to 6 people and two tents on a site…a rarity indeed!
Showerhouse/Restrooms are placed in the middle of each loop and are modern facilities. Fairly clean and maintained. Electric outlets are a plus.
This campground is pet friendly…must be leashed and not permitted on the sandy beach area during season. Cell service was fairly consistent.
Unlike the National Park Campground a few miles down the road, Cunningham Falls State Park requires you to pass through a staffed office at the entrance and a gate.
The 43 acre Hunting Creek Lake offers great (and busy weekend) fishing. Trolling motors are permitted, but ideal for paddling.
There are plenty of trails, including the Catoctin Trail, but all the trails I was on do not permit biking.
Another big draw is Cunningham Falls itself. The trail is an easy six mile loop to and from the falls.
This is a very busy campground and I was advised it normally sells out on weekends, so securing a site in advance is wise.
Camp next to the president. This park is located next to Camp David where the POTUS used to go for vacations to give there security detail a break unlike our current president who just keeps wasting our tax money flying down to Florida every weekend. Ok enough ranting…….
Great campsite, with a small lake with beach the kids can swim at. Only thing is there is a steep hike back and forth from campsite to beach, we ended up driving to beach area after our first attempt to walk to beach with all our gear, as an excuse we did have a 7 year old with us.
Great easy loop hikes around campsite with a decent waterfall depending on when it last rained. Great local get away only 1 hr away from DC.