Cunningham Falls

July 2011

State: Maryland

Location: Cunningham Falls State Park, near Thurmont

Height: 78'

Crest: 10' ( varies)

Water Source: Hunting Creek

Waypoint: 39.63166N 77.47077W

Summary: This is Maryland's highest waterfall, dropping 78' in a series of steep slides. Easy to visit. The falls can get pretty thin in summer.

Cunningham Falls is Maryland's highest waterfall. It slides down a rock face in a number of steps. Hunting Creek does not have a large watershed and the falls can get pretty thin. When I visited in July there was water flowing, but I have seen photos of the falls with much more water.

There are two viewing platforms at the bottom of the falls. From here you can get a good view of the lower part of the falls, but the upper most parts are not really visible. If you want to see the falls up close you have to cross the creek and do some climbing. A sign tells you that climbing is discouraged, but it is permitted. The slope is steep in places, but can be climbed without equipment. When I was there both children and old folks were climbing up the falls. The falls is a popular spot, and it was hard to get a photo without people in it.

At the top of the falls a large boulder splits the creek into two channels, which quickly join together again. There are a couple of pools near the top where you can just sit and soak. The falls gets steeper towards the bottom.

There are two main trails to the falls, the 1/2 mile Lower Trail, and the 3/4 mile Cliff Trail. The lower trail is fairly level and easy. The Cliff Trail is much more strenuous. Both of these trails begin near Hunting Creek Lake. Just follow the signs from Route 77. There is a third wheelchair accessible trail that begins at Route 77 about a mile west of the main park entrance. There is very limited parking at the trail head and it is reserved for those with disabilities.

Nearby Falls

Cunningham Falls is an isolated waterfall. I imagine there might be some seasonal falls on some of the nearby streams, but if so noone talks about them. Great Falls is a 1.5 hour drive away. Jarret Falls in Pennsylvania is a 1.5 hour drive in the opposite direction. Muddy Creek Falls, the tallest free falling falls in Maryland, and the other falls of Swallow Falls State Park are 3 hours to the west.

Photo Gallery

Near the top

The top

The third drop from the bottom

The second and third drop from the bottom

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Last Modified: Saturday, 09-Jul-2011 07:50:43 MDT.

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