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This easy interpretive trail tells the story of whisky-making. Interpretive talks are given on weekends.

You'll enjoy this half-hour walk from beginning to end. Start across from the visitor center just north of MD 77. The wide path rambles along the creekbed of Distillery Run leading to the site of a former rye and corn liquor operation. Today, you'll see a vintage still, much smaller than the stills actually used at this site.

It was the summer of 1929 (Prohibition Period), when a "steamer" still operation was raided. Beginning as far back as 1734, the conversion of rye and corn into liquor was a legal practice. In 1791, Congress passed an excise tax on the product. The excise tax remained for 128 years until the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which made it an offense to run such an operation. The problem with the 1791 excise tax was that it took the profit out of making liquor. For mountain people, the liquid concentration of rye or corn was the most practical way to get crops to market. Rather than pay the tax the mountain folk went underground operating by the light of the moon. Hence the term, "moonshine." Blue Blazes Still came to an end on that July night in 1929.

Directions: From Thurmont, MD, Trail begins across from visitor center. Travel MD State Route 77 west approximately 3.5 miles turning right onto Park Central Road. Make an immediate right into the visitor center parking lot.

Elevation: 920 feet

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Distance: 0.6 miles

Usage: Heavy

Difficulty: Easy

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Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland

Visitor Information

The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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