Summary: Approaching the trailhead you are confronted with two choices, the strenuous hike over the mountain via the Cliff Trail or the easy walk along the Lower Trail. I was accompanied on this hike by my 8 year old son who was able to handle this hike with only the occasional assitance getting over some of the larger rocks. It is not suitable for younger children.
The rock outcrops are truly wondeful. The basalt is some of the oldest above-ground exposed stone formations in the world and really make for some interesting and exciting exploration. They are surrounded by magnificent maples, oaks, poplars, and hickories.
The decent to the falls is rough and may require some careful footing and handholds. Once reaching the falls though you will be greeted by a peaceful boardwalk and viewing/seating area so relax and enjoy the natural splendor of the falls.
The return path via the Lower Trail is a nice easy hike on crushed gravel and mostly level, suitable for all ages
Trailhead: From Route 15, enjoy the scenic drive West through Catoctin Mountain National Park on route 77. Turn south onto Catoctin Hollow Road (watch for Cunningham Falls State Park signs). Turn North onto North Beach Circle to enter the park and camping area (there will be an entrance fee). Begin watching for trail parking on your left, the lot is marked as the waterfalls trail parking area. (Lat:39.62736 Lon:-77.46265)
Trail Guides for CunninghamFalls (Cliff Trail, Lower Trail):
Cunningham Falls State Park Trail Guide
by MD DNR (MD DNR)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 301-271-7574
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Brian Talbert, who has posted 20 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by G.D.D on 9/9/2007
We went over labor day weekend and the falls wasn't a falls. But the hike was nice. Wished we would have know that it was difficult to push a stroller. It was a good exercise for our entire party.
Reviewed by Sue on 5/26/2007
I took the cliff trail to the falls and the lower trail back. It is more of a hike when the cliff trail is taken. You don't actually hike over a cliff, there are just many rocks, inclines and declines. It was a great reward to finally hear the waterfall. However, when I got to the waterfall there were many teenagers hanging out on the rocks which was not a big deal. But, if you're looking for a place to relax and think, this area is not so secluded. Also - this same day, a young female scantily clad in a bikini was having a photo-shoot in front of the waterfall - not exactly what I wanted to view. There is a nice boardwalk to the falls which allows people in wheelchairs or strollers to access the waterfalls.
Reviewed by GAR on 4/21/2006
A good hike in and of itself, but much better if you cross the stream and scramble up the rocks adjacent to the cascading falls. The area has the feel of a natural playground. My kids made it clear that this was the type of hike they liked the most.
Reviewed by SnidleyStash on 6/4/2005
I like this hike. It is not too tough, not too long, and has interesting things along the way. I enjoy the waterfall, and never tire of visiting places like it. There is something very peaceful about waterfalls.
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