north from the top
Cat Rock is part of Catoctin Mountain Located in Cunningham Falls State Park. The Cat Rock Trail--yellow blaze (1.5 miles is the shortest route) This steep, strenuous trail leads to Cat Rock (elevation 1560') and scenic views. Like similar Wolf Rock
and Chimney Rock
to the north, Cat Rock is exposed Quartzite, that is weathered. It leaves an excellent overlook above all the boulders that have broken away from the now exposed ridge.
Near the top
Directions - Cunningham Falls is located west of Thurmont MD, 18 miles north of Frederick MD.
From the Baltimore area: Follow I-70 west to Frederick, and U.S. 15 north to Thurmont.
From the Washington DC area: Follow I-270 north to Frederick, then U.S. 15 north to Thurmont.
From the Gettysburg area: Follow U.S. 15 south to Thurmont.
There are signs from Rt 15 in Thurmont to the area, you will travel west on Rt 77. The parking area for Cat Rock will be on the left side of the road across from the National Park Headquarters on the right.
The trail to Cat Rock leaves the parking lot and parallels Rt 77 heading East. Soon it turns and steadily climbs south. The trail alternates climbs with level area so its not as bad as the "strenuos" climb that it is advertised to be by the park service. Soon you will cross Bear Branch a small mountain stream. Soon after that you will intersect with a trail that comes in from the right. This trail leads steeply down to Hunting Creek Lake and near the William Houck Area where camping is allowed. Continue straight and cross the powerline clearing. Soon after this there is the junction to Cat Rock and Bobs Hill. The trail to Bobs Hill goes off to the right. Continue towards Cat Rock and you are soon climbing up to the right of the trail, the backside of exposed Quartzite boulders to a wonderful view of Catoctin Mountain to the south, west and north. Far to the southwest is Sugarloaf Mt
. After enjoying this area climb back down off the rock to the "summit post" for Cat Rock and find the herd path leading to the north a short distance to another wonderful view mostly to the north that includes Chimney Rock. To return to the trailhead retrace your steps.
Close up of the rock
Camping--The park offers two camping areas: the Houck Area with 140 campsites situated in five camping loops and nine camper cabins, and the Manor Area with 31 campsites. Bathhouses with hot showers are conveniently located in each camping loop. Each campsite is equipped with a table, fire ring, lantern post and parking area. Some electric hook-up sites are available in both campgrounds. Campsites at the Houck and Manor Areas can be reserved. A camp store offers groceries, camping supplies and souvenirs.
There is no camping other than at these designated areas.
Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
Approaching the "north" lookout
Leave a trip plan with a family member.
Hikers should always be prepared for an emergency. Carry sunscreen, a small first aid kit, water and a snack, insect repellent, a compass, a map of the area and foul weather gear.
Adequate footwear should be worn.
Follow Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.
Be aware of hunting seasons. Portions of Cunningham Falls State Park are open for hunting, and the Cat Rock/Bob's Hill Trail pass through the hunting areas. Bright colors should be worn during hunting season.
Both of Maryland's poisonous snakes, the timber rattlesnake and copperhead, are found within the park. Never put your hands or feet into rock crevasses or behind logs without checking for snakes. Watch all snakes from a distance. Learn to identify poisonous snakes.