Maryland has a number of waterfalls, but they are sporadically dispersed throughout the state. Each impressive waterfall is unlikely to be near the other falls in the state. Cunningham Falls is the falls for those found near Frederick and Hagerstown.
It’s mid-October, and the trees are just beginning to change colors in the region. The drive to the falls was dotted with regions of colorful promise. Even without the fall colors, the drive is really very beautiful. Once at the parking area, you’ll have a pretty easy hike to the falls.
There are two different trails to the falls, and unless I’m mistaken, both lead directly to the same viewpoint. You can choose the easy yellow-blazed trail, or the apparently difficult red-blazed trail. I really had no wish to do a difficult hike if unnecessary, so I chose the easy path (and I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss out on anything). There is a wood boardwalk that leads to a view of the falls, but it is honestly not a good view. You can (carefully) rock-hop to get a much better view of the falls. They advise against it, but I didn’t find it to be particularly problematic, though I didn’t “climb” up further along the rather steep rocks.
1) Take US-15 north from the Frederick area.
2) Veer right onto the exit for MD-77. (There are numerous signs indicating where this turn is. It does appear rather abruptly.)
3) Turn left onto MD-77, and follow the signs for Cunningham Falls State Park.
4) Turn left onto Catoctin Hollow Road, and drive the short distance to the entrance to the park.
5) There is an entrance fee. There is a parking area for the falls/lake, but if you continue just a little bit further, there is also parking on the left for just the falls. (On a Friday in mid-October, there was absolutely no lack of parking.)
Accessibility: 7/10 for hiking, 10/10 (there is a handicapped-accessible boardwalk along MD-77)
Where in the World is Cunningham Falls?: map