What to do in Gambrill State Park

Gambrill State Park has its beginnings when public-spirited conservationists of Frederick County purchased this tract of land on Catoctin Mountain and donated it to the City of Frederick to be used for a municipal mountain park. On September 7, 1934, the City presented the acreage to the State for use as a state park, which was later named to honor the late James H. Gambrill, Jr., a Frederick resident and leading advocate of the conservation of natural resources.

Three native stone overlooks, strategically located on the 1600-foot summit of High Knob, midway between the Mason-Dixon Line and the Potomac River, offer excellent and exciting views of the surrounding area. On a clear day, looking north, a visitor can see the rugged tree-covered mountains of the Frederick City Municipal Forest, one of the State's best managed watersheds. Looking south, one can see Crampton's Gap, a Civil War Landmark and the site of Gathland State Park, and the Middletown and Monocacy Valleys. South Mountain, where many engagements between Confederate and Union troops took place during the Civil War, can be seen to the west.

Gambrill State Park comes alive in the spring, with the flowering of many trees and shrubs, highlighted by the blooming of the dogwood trees in late May and the abundance of the beautiful mountain laurel's large white flowers in early June.

Gambrill State Park encompasses 1,137 acres in Frederick County, offering scenic overlooks affording splendid views of the historic countryside. The park is divided into two separate areas providing recreational facilities and activities for visitors of all ages. The Rock Run area is located at the park entrance. The High Knob area is located at the top of Catoctin Mountain.

Camping is permitted in the upper portion of the Rock Run area, where a modern washhouse with showers and hot water is available from May through October. The camping area accommodates up to 35 family units. Four camper cabins are located in the park featuring a 12'x12' room with a front porch. Senior rates apply

The park offers 13 miles of woodland trail, all beginning at the Trailhead Parking Lot on the east side of Gambrill Park Road, about halfway up the mountain between the Rock Run area and the High Knob area, on the right side of the road. All trails, except the 27-mile multi-park Catoctin Trail, are loop trails, and return to the Trailhead Lot. All trails, except the White Oak Trail, are open for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. A wide variety of birds, wildflowers, ferns, trees and shrubs can be viewed along these trails. Leashed pets are allowed on all trails.

Picnic tables, grills, shelters, modern restrooms and playground facilities are available at Gambrill State Park. The High Knob area offers three shelters, available for rent from April through October ($35 per day), as well as a lodge-type native stone shelter, the Tea Room. The balcony of the Tea Room faces beautiful vistas, while a huge stone fireplace dominates the interior. The building accommodates 75 people and has a kitchen designed for cooking and serving food. Pets are not allowed in the picnic areas. Tea Room rental is $75 per weekday and $150 on weekend days.

Nature Lodge is located in the High Knob area. Scheduled nature walks and evening campfire programs are conducted periodically throughout the summer season. Schedules are posted at various locations within the park.

A small pond, located in the Rock Run area is popular with anglers. The most common catches include largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.

Gambrill State Park offers an accessible shelter, nature center, campsites, and limited areas of the Tea Room.

Recreation
Outdoor recreations at Gambrill State Park include picnicking, hiking and nature trails, long-distance backpacking, interpretive programs, camping and cabins, fishing, and touring the nature center.

Location
Gambrill State Park is located within both Washington and Frederick Counties a mere 51 miles northwest of Washington, DC, 53 miles west of Baltimore, and 6 miles northwest of Frederick, on Catoctin Mountain. A one-mile road from U.S. Highway 40 leads to the park.

Climate
Maryland has four distinct seasons with spring and fall being particularly pleasant with low humidity and mild temperatures. The average January temperature ranges between 30 and 34 degrees F (-1 to 1 C) with July averages ranging between 74 degrees F and 80 degrees F. Typically, coastal temperatures are slightly warmer then the western Appalachian Plateau area. Travelers should be aware that winters can become miserably cold and summers can be hazy, hot and humid with afternoon thundershowers.

Address
c/o Cunningham Falls State Park
14039 Catoctin Hollow Road
Thurmont, MD 21702

Phone: 301-271-7574


  • Gambrill State Park Travel Q&A

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