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Gambrill State Park

Features picnicking, shelters, hiking and nature trails, and camping.

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

(301) 271-7574

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.

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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. 

Gambrill State ParkOn 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.

Two separate areas of Gambrill State Park provide 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.


Gambrill State Park is approximately 51 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. and 53 miles west of Baltimore on Catoctin Mountain. Gambrill Park Road is located approximately six miles away from Frederick on Route 40 West. The park road traverses Catoctin Mountain, and accesses the campground, the trailhead, and the High Knob areas of this park.


Picnicking - Picnic tables, grills, modern restrooms and playground facilities are available at Gambrill State Park. Pets are not allowed in the picnic areas.

Shelters - The High Knob area offers three shelters, available for rent from April through October, 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 Tea Room. Interior layout of the Tea Room

Hiking and Nature Trails - For those interested in hiking and observing nature and wildlife, there are 13 miles of wooded trails. A wide variety of birds, wildflowers, ferns, trees and shrubs can be viewed along these trails. Leashed pets are allowed on all trails.

Camping - Camping is permitted in the upper portion of the Rock Run area, where a modern washhouse with showers and hot water is available from April through mid-October. The camping area accommodates up to 30 family units. The park also offers four camper cabins. Senior citizen rate applies only on non-holiday Sunday through Thursday nights.

Trail Descriptions

All trails begin at the Trailhead Parking Lot on the east side of Gambrill Park Road (about half-way up the mountain between the Rock Run area and the High Knob area, on the right side of the road). All trails are day use only -there is no overnight parking. Park hours are 8 a.m. to sunset, April to October, and 10 a.m. to sunset, November to March. All Maryland State Forests and Parks are trash free. Please carry out what you carry in.

White Oak Trail - white blaze (1 mile) This easy trail is open only to hikers (no mountain bikes), and is a good choice for families with small children.

Red Maple Trail - red blaze (1.1 mile) Fairly easy to walk, this trail connects the campground with the rest of the park. One short section of the trail is somewhat steep. The trail is maintained by The Trail House, an outdoor store in Frederick.

Green Ash Trail - green blaze (2.0 miles) True hikers will love this trail. There are several steep slopes and very little level ground, making this trail an adventure. As you hike the trail, imagine what it was like to cross the Appalachian Mountains on foot in the 1700's. The trail is maintained by Wheel Base, a bike shop in Frederick.

Black Locust Trail - black blaze (3.3 miles) This trail is moderately easy to walk. Several steep slopes are mixed with fairly level areas. This trail truly shows the beauty of Gambrill State Park from its wooded slopes to the breathtaking views of both Frederick Valley to the east and Middletown Valley to the west. The trail is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, West Chapter.

Yellow Poplar Trail - yellow blaze (4.6 miles) The longest of the Gambrill Trails, this trail is only moderately difficult to walk. Hikers who have several hours can enjoy the beauty of nature. Bringing you up the mountain and out into the far reaches of the park, the trail passes two beautiful stone overlooks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. A rest room is located near the trail in the High Knob area. The trail is maintained by M.O.R.E. (Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts).

Catoctin Trail - blue blaze (26.5 miles)  This trail traverses Gambrill State Park for approximately 3.0 miles, and continues north through the Federick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls State Park, and Catoctin Mountain National Park. The trail ends at Mt. Zion Road, 1.3 miles north of Owens Creek Campground in Catoctin Mountain Park. The Appalachian Trail may be reached by traveling west on Mt. Zion Road to Raven Rock Road for two miles. Camping is permitted only at Rock Run Campground (Gambrill State Park), the Manor and Houck Campgrounds (Cunningham Falls State Park), and Owens Creek Campground (Catoctin Mountain Park). If you need to leave a vehicle overnight somewhere, please check with the authorities of that area. The trail is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

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