Winter Activities and Road Closures
Catoctin Mountain Park Announces Winter Activities and Road Closures
When you are properly prepared, winter is an excellent time to enjoy the beauty and solitude of nature. Since portions of Park Central and Manahan Roads are closed to vehicle traffic, visitors who utilize the hiking trails at Catoctin Mountain Park, find even greater opportunities for recreation during the winter months. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding are possible when there is adequate snow. Visitors who prefer indoor activities are invited to participate in the following program:
Museums by Candlelight - Saturday, December 8 from 12:00 noon until 4:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center
Catoctin Mountain Park joins the Frederick Historic Sites Consortium for the annual Holiday Open House known as Museums by Candlelight. The Catoctin museum will take on a special aura when viewed under special lighting. Children are invited to make a pinecone bird feeder to share with special feathered friends.
Park Central Road Scheduled for Winter Closure on Wednesday, December 19
Portions of Park Central Road, located in Catoctin Mountain Park, Thurmont, Maryland, are scheduled to close to vehicle traffic at noon, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, or at the start of the first winter precipitation event after that date. The 2½ mile section of road on the east side of the park beginning at the Visitor Center and ending at the 1800' elevation is closed each year in mid-December. Park Central Road between Manahan and Foxville-Deerfield Road will also close. Closing roads when visitation is low and freezing precipitation often occurs increases visitor safety and reduces maintenance costs. Weather conditions can vary drastically over the 700-foot elevation change from the Visitor Center to Hog Rock Parking Area. Precipitation that falls as rain at the Visitor Center often changes to ice or snow in less than 1 mile driving distance.
The usable life of Park Central Road is extended and the road surface remains in better condition since this portion of the road, which is designed and built for light vehicle traffic does not suffer the negative environmental impacts of plowing snow. Vegetation along road shoulders and in nearby woods benefits as the pH of soil and the balance of nutrients is not altered by the run-off from road salts. The availability of the road for winter recreation also results from the closure. Many casual hikers who would not otherwise use park trails find the road to be an ideal place to hike and enjoy nature. When there is sufficient snow, Park Central Road provides the beginner with an excellent location to learn cross-country skiing, providing a large area devoid of trees and other obstacles.
The dramatic elevation change beginning at the Thurmont Vista Parking Lot challenges the more advanced skier with a strenuous climb heading toward the Hog Rock Parking Lot. Most find the effort well spent as they enjoy near downhill skiing conditions when making the return trip.
Park Central Road and Manahan Road will reopen to vehicle traffic in March as weather conditions permit. Please direct questions regarding the status of these roads to the Visitor Center at (301) 663-9388.
Chestnut Picnic Area will be open until the first plowable snow of the season. The area will be closed from the first snow and will reopen in March. Please direct questions concerning the status of Chestnut Picnic Area to the Visitor Center at (301) 663-9388.
Deer Reduction Activities
Deer herd reduction is being carried out by qualified federal employees, since public hunting is not permitted in Catoctin Mountain Park. Meat from culled deer will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank, including pantries in Frederick and Washington Counties. The purpose of the herd reduction is to support forest regeneration and provide for the long-term protection, conservation and restoration of native species and cultural landscapes. The consumption of vegetation by the overpopulated deer herd has negatively impacted other wildlife species habitat, and park neighbors. The health of the deer population continues to decline. Reduction activities will occur after sunset, when the Park is closed to visitors. All closed areas will be clearly posted and closures will remain in effect for short periods of time. The closure areas are as follows:
Catoctin Mountain Park is one of nearly 400 units administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The park Visitor Center, located on State Route 77 three miles west of Thurmont, Maryland, is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The Visitor Center is will be closed on Federal Holidays through February. Correspondence should be addressed to: Superintendent, Catoctin Mountain Park, 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788. Our website address is www.nps.gov/cato. General information can be obtained by calling the Visitor Center at (301) 663-9388.
Did You Know?
Visitors in Catoctin Mountain Park may gather morel mushrooms for personal consumption. Morels are found in a variety of habitats but generally they seem to be found in wet soil that is high in organic matter and shaded by trees, especially hardwoods. Favorite locations are closely guarded secrets!