Catoctin Mountain Range ... Catoctin Mountain Park (NPS) ...
East Side Trail System Hub ...
Visitor's Center and Local Industry
This is the Visitor's Center for the Catoctin Mountain Park administered by the National Park Service (NPS). This center is also the hub of the east-side trail system in the park, and you can reach any of the east-side features from it. The big circle hike here is approximately eight miles long: east to Chimney Rock, west to Wolf Rock, north to Thurmont Vista, west to Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, south to Hog Rock, south to Cunningham Falls, and finally east to return to the center. You are not, however, required to do the whole eight miles, because there are numerous bail-out points to get back to the center sooner.
Across Park Central Road from the center is a blue-blazed trail going north to an accurate looking reproduction of what was a local industry during Prohibition, and which led to some violence when law enforcement discovered it. Signs along the trail decribe the issues.
North of the Visitor's Center off of Park Central Road is the Charcoal Loop Trail, marked by pink triangle shaped blazes. During the Civil War, the demand for steel was great, and to make that steel, furnaces like the Catoctin Furnace needed immense amounts of charcoal. Woodsmen cut down trees and hauled the logs on a sled like in the upper picture to a collier who piled up the logs in a circle, like in the lower picture, covered them with leaves and dirt and ignited them to make the charcoal that was needed. Consequently, hillsides in the region were significantly denuded of trees, and later conservation efforts toiled to bring back the woods that formerly stood here.
Out on Park Central Road near the Visitor's Center, two bugs were working on producing the next generation.