Landscape is full of clues left by people who lived here long ago. Some of them are obvious, but some of them are much harder to see and it takes a trained archeologist to spot them. Like these boulders behind me. This is an ancient archeological site. This outcrop is a kind of stone called rhyolite. that ancient Native Americans love to use to make their stone tools. Starting around 10,000 years ago, they began coming to these outcrops to get stone. Mining here was not complicated. They just knocked pieces of stone off the outcrops probably with a stone hammer until they got a piece that they liked. They carried those pieces down the hill to camps in flat places along the stream and there they shaped them into stone tools. This rock is a piece of rhyolite stone that ancient Native Americans loved to use to make their tool and this scar here is an actual mark left by the stone hammer thousands of years ago by an Indian who was removing stone from this boulder in front of us. Each one of these marks is like one letter in an archeological book that records the lives of people who lived long ago.
For about a hundred years, the main economic activity in the upland parts of the park was making charcoal for the Catoctin furnace. Using the methods of those days, it took 200 bushels of charcoal to make one ton of pig iron. So an active furnace burned through about 500 acres of trees in a year. The owners of the furnace owned thousands of acres of land up here in the mountains, but even that wasn't enough. They still bought a lot of timber from their neighbors as well. The way they made charcoal was they dug out a wide, shallow hole 30, even 50 feet across. They piled up the logs on top of it. Then, they covered it over with dirt leaving just a couple of holes, so that the fire smoldered and charred the wood, rather than consuming it. Those fires burned for 2 to 3 weeks and the whole time they had to be watched to make sure that they never got too hot or went out. The men who watched the fires were called charcoal burners, or colliers. We don't know much about the colliers, but in pictures they're always old men, so they may have been semi-retired loggers or furnace men. They lived up here on the mountain in crazy wood shacks while they tended the fires full time. Once the fired had burned out, they closed up the holes so the fire would die. When it cooled, they wracked the soil off to expose the charcoal, loaded it up in wagons, and took it down the mountain. The archeological record of the charcoal industry consists of two things. The foundation of the huts, which are usually just a little mound of dirt with a pile of stones at one end marking where the hearth or chimney is. Or, the charcoal hearths themselves. These are just wide, shallow depressions, which you can see as you walk through the woods on the mountain. There are hundreds of them up here. The only way to know for sure is to stick a shovel in the ground, turn the soil over, and see how black it is from all the charcoal. There's your black charcoal-stained soil. Charcoal hearths are not much to see, but they're the only remnant of a whole way of life that's disappeared from our part of the world.
It's hard to believe it when you look at all the rocks, but Catoctin Mountain was once dotted with farms. The most obvious remnants of those days are these stone walls that run all the way through the woods here up and down the mountain. But if you look closely you can find other signs. You can find house foundations, barn foundations, farm lanes, trash piles, and many other things. We also have written records of the people who lived up here and photographs that were taken of these farms in the 1930's when this land was acquired by the government. Interviews were always done with people who had grown up in the park in the 1970's. So we know a lot about these hard scrabble farms and the tough people who lived here. The first farmers in the park were Germans who came down from Pennsylvania in the late 1700's. Digging around some of the old farm sites in the park, our archeologists have found artifacts going back 200 years. So some of these farms were set up then around 1800 and people lived in them right down until 1936. Up here on the mountain people built out of the materials at hand which meant for the foundations and the chimneys and wood for the houses. I'm sitting here in the stone cellar hole of one of the oldest farms in the park. There are artifacts lying on the surface too. But most of them are from the time the farms were abandoned in the 1930's. To find early artifacts, archeologists have had to dig in the soil. Digging at this spot, they found artifacts going back to the late 1700's so this is one of the earliest farm sites here in the park. It was hard to make a living for farmers up here on the mountain because there wasn't enough level land to grow a lot of crops. So farmers did a lot of different things to get by. A lot of the land up here was actually pasture for sheep or cattle that's [the reason for] all the stone walls Many people had orchards up here. Other people raised hunting dogs or rabbits or birds. Some people did lumbering although most people didn't have enough timberland to make a living that way. Even so, a lot of people couldn't make a go of it just from farming up here and they had to take jobs down in the valley at least some parts of the year. So it was a tough life up here. But some people kept it up right down until the land was bought by the government in the 1930's.
This is Superintendent Mel Poole. I'd like to welcome you to Catoctin Mountain Park over 5,800 acres in the Blue Ridge geologic region of the Appalachian Mountains. When the federal government acquired this area in 1935, the ten thousand acres surrounding this was a clear-cut forest. Under management of the National Park Service since 1936, the southern portion of the park was transferred to the state of Maryland and became Cunningham Falls State Park in 1954. Since then, both parks have allowed their areas to naturally regenerate into excellent examples of mature deciduous forest. As you hike the Falls Nature Trail from the National Park to the State Park, imagine what it must have been like to walk this path in 1935 when the area didn't have a tree taller than a fence post. Enjoy what nature has provided this year and thank you for taking the time to experience your America. Welcome to Catoctin Mountain Park. You're listening to the falls nature trail podcast. This program describes some of the things that you might encounter on the 1.4 mile hike through Catoctin Mountain Park to Cunningham Falls State Park. The program ends with the history and explanation of the formation of Cunningham Falls, the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland. The trail is moderate, but rocky and steep at times, so sturdy shoes are recommended. Be aware that to enter the State Park you will cross Route 77, which is a busy road with many blind spots for drivers and pedestrians. In addition, Cunningham Falls State Park does not allow pets in the falls or lake area. Immediately after crossing the road into the State Park, you will see the boardwalk path that leads to Cunningham Falls. To get started, the trailhead is located on the right hand side at the end the gravel parking lot across Park Central Road from the visitor center. Catoctin Mountain Park encompasses 5,810 acres of forest ecosystem. Over 280 species of non-migratory animals and over 750 species of vascular plants make this area their home. Among the animals you may see along the trail are squirrels, deer, birds, eastern cottontail rabbits, snakes, and if you are very lucky, black bear. The most commonly seen animals are squirrels and chipmunks. Eastern chipmunks have distinctive black, white, red and tan markings of stripes and spots. These markings help to camouflage them as they live and scavenge on the forest floor. They're often seen darting in and out of crevices and logs and rocks chattering away and seeming as though they're curious about passersby. Like all ground squirrels, chipmunks need to make comfortable burrows, stock their food caches and build up their fat reserves to be ready for the winter hibernation. They collect nuts, seeds, berries and other foods and transport them using large patches in their cheeks to a food cache located in an underground burrow. These cheek pouches can expand to three times the size of their heads and are useful not only for forging, but also for transporting dirt away from the outside of their burrows. The removal of these dirt piles helps to hide the evidence of chipmunk homes from predators bettering their chances of survival. In the same genetic families as chipmunks, squirrels are often seen performing acrobatics in and under the tree tops using their bushy tails for balance. They are scatter hoarders collecting food and burying it in different places to come back to. We have four species of squirrels in Catoctin Mountain's forest. The eastern gray squirrel is the most common and is also an often seen visitor in suburban neighborhoods. They range from grade to tan gray and even black. Regional lore suggests that the black color morphology of the grey squirrel may have been introduced in the early nineteen hundred's from Canada. Legend has it that during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt 18 Canadian black squirrels were released at the National Zoo in Washington DC to help restore the dwindling gray squirrel population. Black squirrels are now a relatively common sighting showing the efficiency of natural selection at work. Red squirrels are named appropriately for their reddish coloring. Their medium-sized squirrels with white bellies. They tend to be very territorial, often chasing other animals away from their immediate area. The fox squirrel has grayish tan to reddish-brown coloring. About the size of a small house cat, they're the largest squirrel species in the park. Fox squirrels are sometimes mistaken for gray squirrels when they are smaller, but their coppery brown underbelly sets them apart from their white-bellied relatives. They're considered by evolutionists to be living fossils with a skeletal system closest to the earliest known squirrel who dates back to 23 million years ago. The most elusive squirrel, the flying squirrel, sleeps during the day and doesn't actually fly. They have skin flaps between their arms and legs that help them glide long distances from tree to tree and large eyes that help them see in the dark. They're about the same size as a chipmunk, making them the smallest squirrel species in the park. While it is very unlikely that you will see one, it's common to hear them making scratching noises at night as they land on trees. The foraging and feeding behaviors of squirrels and chipmunks contribute to forest succession as forgotten caches allow for new generations of trees and other plants to sprout from the buried and overlooked seeds. In the nineteen nineties, the largest animal in Maryland, the black bear, returned to Catoctin after a 20-year absence. Like many other animals, autumn is the time that bears are eating a lot building up their fat stores to survive the approaching cold weather. Black bears are not generally considered to be predatory preferring mainly berries, acorns, hickory nuts, grasses and insects, but they will eat fish, carrion and some small mammals when available. Their color varies from cinnamon brown to black. They have good eyesight and hearing, but rely heavily on their excellent sense of smell to locate food. Bears are thought to have the best sense of smell of all the animals on earth. To put this into perspective, dogs have excellent senses of smell, 100 times that of a human's, but a bear's sense of smell is 2,100 times better than a human's. The average black bear can smell food up wind up from twenty miles away. Bears tend to be wary of humans and will often flee when they sense your approach. Female black bears that are pregnant, go into hibernation earlier than other bears. Their cubs are born during the winter usually in a litter of 1 to 3. The babies are hairless and only about the size of a kitten when they're born. Because they're so vulnerable at first, being born during hibernation gives them a few months to become better able to take care of themselves by hiding or climbing up a tree. When the family emerges from the den in late March or April, the cubs have reached about 10 pounds and are playful bouncy little balls of fur. By the fall, black bear cubs have grown rapidly gaining roughly 10 to 15 pounds a month, depending upon how healthy and well-fed they are. If you see a cub, it may be curious about you and seemingly harmless, but the mother is without much doubt close by for protection. Bear cubs stay with their mothers for about a year and a half separating at seventeen-months when the cub is considered a sub-adult. Most female sub-adults will settle within a mile of, or within their mother's territory. Males will travel much farther, sometimes as much as a hundred miles away. Most cases of aggression from black bears towards humans are in defense of their cubs. Remember, that they are wild and should never be fed or harassed. If you encounter a bear, stay calm. Do not approach it or run away. Avoid direct eye contact and don't panic if the bear stands on its hind legs. They do this to assess their surroundings. Black bears very rarely charge humans even around their cubs, but will sometimes bluff. Remain upright, back away slowly and leave the area. Seeing a bear in the wild is an exciting experience. If you use common sense and good judgment you can safely enjoy the natural beauty of this forest animal from a distance. Like a number of mammals, most cold-blooded animals, like reptiles and amphibians, experience some form of hibernation or winter dormancy. Because cold-blooded animals' blood temperature drops or rises to the temperature around them, it is especially important for them to build up fat and find places to hunker down for the winter. Fall is the time that many snakes are on the move finding holes and dens for hibernation. Timber rattlesnakes are known to migrate to the same group dens year after year turning in their lives of solitude for the winter dormancy. Of the fourteen species of snakes found in the park only two of them, the Copperhead and the Timber Rattlesnake, are venomous. However, encounters with them are rare. Snake habitats include rocky slopes, loose rock walls, stream areas and abandoned buildings or wood piles. The Copperhead and the timber rattlesnake differ in appearance from other snakes in the area in that they have thin necks and triangular heads. The Copperhead is tan with light and dark brown hourglass-shaped banding. These markings make it well camouflaged on the forest floor. It is primarily a night stalker and is seldom seen during the day. The timber rattlesnake can range in color from yellowish-brown to black with irregular black bands or diamond shaped blotches. At the tail end, is the rattler, the source of the characteristic high-frequency hissing sound that can be heard when the snake feels threatened. The rattle is a series of nested hollow beads that are actually modified scales. The rattle grows longer every time the snake sheds its skin. The primary food of these and other larger snakes is rodents, but birds, insects and the occasional frog or lizard help diversify the menu. It is extremely unlikely that you will come across either species of poisonous snake found in the park, but if you do, leave it where it is and don't harm it. These snakes are not normally aggressive and will not bite unless they feel threatened. All of the animals in Catoctin Mountain Park are integral parts the forest ecosystem and are protected by the National Park Service. More common snakes are plaid and lined garter snakes, black rat snakes and tiny delicate ring neck snakes, As a general rule, snakes are very shy and will do their best to stay out of your way. Because of their quiet nature, snakes are not commonly seen by the average hiker. If you are fortunate enough to catch sight of one, you are among a special few. One animal that is commonly seen, the white-tailed deer, is also building up fat stores in preparation for the winter. They will most likely look a little scruffy as they are growing in their winter coats, kind of like growing out a bad haircut. Deer spend the winter out in the cold, so they need a heavier coat and a thicker layer of fat to keep them warm. Part of the fall months are the breeding or rutting season for healthy white-tailed deer. Male deer, or bucks, have grown in antlers through the spring and summer to assist them in attracting a mate and in battling rivals. Antlers are different from horns in a few key ways. Possibly the most visible difference is that under normal circumstances only male deer grow antlers, while horns are grown by males and females like on cows and goats. Antlers are not bone as horns are. They are cartilage that is covered in a velvety tissue. This velvet skin covering gets very itchy for the deer, so you might notice evidence of them rubbing against trees to ease the irritation. this behavior eventually rubs off the velvet causing the spongy cartilage underneath to harden. Contrary to popular belief, the number of tines on a deer's antlers will not help determine its age. Large antlers indicate a well-nourished healthy buck making antler size a factor in breeding choice. Also different from horns, antlers are shed after the mating season is over every year, with some males starting to grow new antlers immediately. If breeding is successful, female deer, or does, are pregnant throughout the winter. Because they will be supporting more than just themselves, they need to be especially diligent about fattening up in preparation for the colder months. You might notice as you look around, the sparse vegetation and lack of saplings from the forest floor to a height of about four feet. This is a browse line caused by deer. The deer population here in the Catoctin Mountains is out of balance. There are many factors contributing to their overpopulation, many of which are caused by human attempts to control the natural environment. Many years ago, without realizing the dire consequences, well-intentioned people removed predators, like wolves, coyotes and bobcats thinking that they were bad. The good animals that were left were able to reproduce without natural predators to keep their numbers down. The upset this lack of predation has caused is painfully apparent in Catoctin Mountain Park. Further problems with overpopulation in more recent years, are caused by the effects people have on deer habitat by way of suburban sprawl and other types of development. Because there are many deer and a limited supply of food, they're forced to over graze the understory of the forest. Their main victims are the tree saplings, without which the forest will cease to regenerate. The ecological impact of a high deer population goes beyond vegetation as deer compete with other species for food. For instance, the fall mast crop of acorns and beech nuts are great importance to raccoons, squirrels, turkey, bear and other mammals. With extra deer to feed, these other species will suffer. There are a few plant species that are safe from the deer browse. Unfortunately, many of these are alien invasive plants. Of these invaders, Japanese stiltgrass is especially problematic along the Falls Nature Trail. It looks like miniature, pale green and gold bamboo shoots reaching heights of two to three feet. By early fall, it has started to flower and seed turning brown and dying back in late fall. Native to India and East Asia, it was first recorded in Tennessee in 1919. At that time, the grass was commonly used as a packing material for Asian porcelain and it's thought that escaped seed started the invasion. Up to 1,000 seeds are produced by each plant allowing this shade-tolerant species to carpet forest floors. Another difficult-to-manage-alien plant that grows along a trail undisturbed by the deer population is Japanese barberry. Native to Japan, this low, dense shrub has red berries and small green, gold and maroon leaves in the fall. The straight spines that line the branches can distinguish barberry from other plants. Introduced in 1864 as an ornamental shrub, it is still a popular landscape shrub available for sale to the public. Exotic species in the park are mostly found alongside roads and trails. Roads and trails serve as vectors for these plants with seeds hitchhiking on car tires, visitor shoelaces or attached to the fur of animals. Unfortunately, a few species like Japanese barberry has spread beyond roads and trails and have permeated into all regions of the park. Because invasive species like these are not vulnerable to the environmental pressures of the area, they often grow prolifically. They crowd out native plants by stealing their water, sunlight and nutrients often resulting in habitat loss and a reduction of biodiversity in the force ecosystem. You will notice that many of the trees along the trail are double or multiple sprouted meaning that more than one tree is growing out of the same origin. The multiple sprouting that is common throughout the forest is typical evidence of a second growth or secondary succession forest. When trees are cut down, sprouts or saplings often grow out of the stumps as new generations. Their close proximity frequently makes them merge as one or twists together. At the very beginning of the boardwalk to Cunningham Falls, there are some beautiful beech trees that have grown in concert so closely that they are intertwining. Before agriculture and industry moved in, Catoctin Mountain's forests and the rest of the forest systems on the Appalachian chain from Maine to Georgia consisted mainly of climactic American chestnut trees. In size, they were the redwoods of the East growing to a height over 100 feet and a diameter of nearly 10 feet. Picture a tree with a trunk so wide that it would take at least six adults with arms outstretched holding hands to form a circle around its base. Renowned for their rot-resistant wood and dependable crop of nuts, American chestnut was of great value to people and wildlife. These giants are now absent from the landscape, a tragic loss which has been said to be one of the worst natural calamities ever experienced in the United States. In the early nineteen hundred's, a fungus was accidentally introduced into New York City from trees imported from Asia. The blight quickly spread on its new host, the American chestnut, destroying it throughout its range. The infection reached the Catoctins in 1912 and by the 1940's had killed most of the larger chestnut trees. American chestnuts can still be found in the understory as shoots from the blight-resistant roots. They can be identified by their narrow and sharply serrated leaves. Sadly, by the time they reach twenty feet in height, the blight attacks them through cracks in their bark bringing certain death. The National Park Service cooperates with breeding and genome mapping programs that are underway to find trees with resistance to save the species from extinction. Today, Catoctin Mountain's forests are mainly an oak, hickory deciduous forest, but beech, tulip poplars, dogwood and maple, among others, are common along the Falls Nature Trail, as well. Deciduous forests, like the one encompassing Catoctin Mountain Park, are special for many reasons. One of which being the awe-inspiring color display they gave us when they lose their leaves in autumn. This type of forest is only found in a few areas of the entire world, the eastern portions of the United States and Canada and in parts in Asia and Europe. Unfortunately, much of the deciduous forests in areas other than North America have been vastly depleted making the Appalachian regions' deciduous forests arguably the best examples left on Earth. Leaves change color in the fall because chlorophyll, the main light-absorbing and nutrient-producing pigment in photosynthetic plants is deteriorating as a consequence of the shorter days and less sunlight. Colors show in leaves based on the wavelengths of light they reflect or absorb. In the spring and summer, leaves reflect green and absorb all other colors. In the fall, lessening amounts of green tinted chlorophyll allows for other pigments to show through. Carotenoids reflect yellow, therefore producing yellow tones in leaves. Anthocyanins reflect red, showing shades red as the sugars in the leaves breakdown. The two pigments combine to produce subtly different hues of reds and yellows, as well as oranges purples, burgundies and bronzes. The intensity and length of these color displays are influenced by rainfall and temperatures through the late summer and early fall. Dry hot days followed by cool dry nights will produce the best fall display. This is one of the explanations for why much of New England often turns out the most brilliant fall colors. There are several benefits to trees releasing their leaves in the fall. Leaves are thin and therefore freeze quickly. If they stayed attached to the trees, it would leave those trees more vulnerable to temperature change and weakened immune systems. Leaves also take a lot of energy to maintain. Without much sunlight to produce nutrients, it is a more efficient use of the tree's energy to concentrate on keeping the trunk and roots alive by going into a dormant stage. The falling leaves leave behind buds that will become new foliage in the spring, once again producing nutrients to be used and stored in other parts of the tree to ensure survival. Not all trees color changes are the same. Most oaks' leaves tend to turn opaquely red, burgundy and deep purple in the fall. Shagbark hickory, a tree that looks like its bark is peeling off in vertical strips, has elongated leaves that turn golden in the fall. Beech is one of the more common trees along this trail. It has smooth, gray bark and finally toothed, papery leaves that turn from green to yellow to bronze in the fall and persist through much of the winter. Almost all the trees that you see carved with peoples' initials are beech. Because of the bark's texture, it is tempting for some people to leave a permanent mark. Unfortunately, the carvings leaves the tree vulnerable to disease pests and temperature extremes, not to mention that they are eyesore and the act is illegal. You will also find a lot of red maple and sugar maple in the forest. As the name suggests, red maple leaves turn deeply red in the fall. Sugar maple is the darling of fall foliage. Its leaves experience all of the colors of the autumn forest, flame red, bright yellows and oranges and wine-reds, burgundies and purples. Tulip poplar leaves are wide with five points making them look somewhat like a cat's face. As those leaves fall off and wither, they turn a rich shade of yellow earning the trees the alternate label of yellow poplar. Leaves are not the only colorful decoration in the fall forest. Dogwood, a low-growing tree with distinctive layers of branches, produces red fruit in the fall to match its red leaves. These waxy berries are important sustenance for forest animals. Witch hazel, a low-growing shrub, is one of the few plants flowering in the fall. Its spidery- yellow blooms and golden leaves are a warm farewell for the season. Like countless other plants, witch hazel has been used for many years for its medicinal value. In fact, you can still find this natural stringent in the first aid section of the drugstore or as an additive in skin care products. Another shrub that is common throughout the entire park and along the Falls Nature Trail is Spicebush. In the fall, its leaves turn yellow and the branches are heavy with fruit. Its red berries are fragrant and a good source of nutrients through most of the winter for many animals. Spicebush's leaves roots berries and blooms have been used for many years up and down the Appalachian Mountains to make teas and herbal remedies for such ailments as coughs and colds. They were also valued as indicators of good soil conditions for agriculture. Fall trees and other plant life are not just about beauty. The nuts and berries produced and harvested in autumn are vital to the survival of all of the animals in the forest on some level. Furthermore, the propagation of every plant species is dependent entirely upon their ability to reproduce. The fruit of any plant, be it in an acorn, walnut, berry or pine cone is the next generation of that plant species. A baby tree, shrub, flower or fern. As you travel farther along the trail, you may wonder why there are so many downed trees. When Hurricane Isabel hit in September of 2003, she brought major storms that inflicted severe damage along the Falls Nature Trail. Much of storm-damaged wood is recycled as firewood or building materials here at the park. What is left provides a special opportunity to examine root systems and the insides of trees closely. A tree that has been sawed off shows the layers of growth that developed through its lifetime as rings. Count the rings and you'll know approximately the age the tree was when it died. Thinner rings indicate times of drought. Dark spots and holes indicate disease or insect damage. There are several very large trees that were pushed over by wind, exposing massive root systems. The roots of a tree are like drinking straws used to absorb water and soil nutrients and transport them to the rest of the tree. They also provide vital structural support and store nutrients to use in the production of spring foliage. Root systems generally spread out width wise 1.5 times the length of the farthest reaching tree limb, but for the most part only go down about 18 inches. Forest ecosystems are important, not just for wildlife, but also for humankind. Former President George Bush Senior explained the significance of forests well when he said, "Trees can reduce the heat on a hot summer's day, quiet highway noise, feed the hungry, provide shelter from the wind and warmth in the winter. You see, forests are the sanctuaries not only of wildlife, but also of the human spirit and every tree is a compact between generations." At this point you are welcome to turn off or pause this program until you arrive at Cunningham Falls. This podcast will continue with an explanation of the unique geology and natural history of the area. Remember to be extremely careful when crossing Route 77 to get to the falls boardwalk path. At seventy eight feet in length, Cunningham Falls is the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland. Known historically as McAfee Falls for the original owners of the property, the name was changed when a photographer named Cunningham made the area famous in the late nineteen forties. Here, at an elevation of thirteen hundred feet, Big Hunting Creek surges over a metabasalt slope of greenstone forming the falls over a steep gradient of 9.4 percent. The water flows through ripples, runs pools and drops as high as 12 feet and eventually flows into the man-made Hunting Creek Lake in Cunningham Falls State Park. It continues as Big Hunting Creek flows into the Monocacy River then the Potomac and finally into the Chesapeake Bay making Catoctin an important watershed area of the bay and ultimately of the Atlantic Ocean. 600 million years ago when lava flowed over this land, the development of the Catoctin metabasalt formation began. The greenstone making up this area resulted from the cooling of lava that at one point was over 2,000 feet thick in places. Over millions of years of pressure and erosion, this geologic area became one of the hardest and oldest exposed metamorphic rock formations in the United States. Over 400 million years ago through uplifting caused by a major tectonic plate shifts, the Appalachian Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, began its formation. The Catoctin Mountains make up the easternmost portion of the Blue Ridge province of that range. After the final plate thrust 65 million years ago, streams began their down-cutting process carving through the new mountains deepening valleys and establishing stream beds. The falls began being chiseled out when the down-cutting stream that would become Big Hunting Creek encountered the erosion-resistant greenstone of the metabasalt formation of the Catoctins. Falls and pools were formed as the water tried to follow the path of least resistance down the mountain. Because waterfalls are in a state of constant, but extremely gradual change, they tend to move upstream over many years. The Cunningham Falls we see today are not exactly the same as the ones originally named, but the differences may not be noticeable. As time progresses, Big Hunting Creek will continue to cut new falls farther and farther upstream as it wages its battle against the greenstone in its attempt to reach the ocean. This concludes our podcast tour of the Falls Nature Trail. Thank you for being with us here today. As you are admiring the falls and then hiking back along the trail to the trail head, think about the amazing change this area has seen and the changes
Destination Frederick County: Catoctin Mountain Park
Cunningham Falls is a beautiful place to visit each season of the year. These mp3 files may be downloaded and played on an mp3 player while you are walking the Falls Nature Trail from the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center to Cunningham Falls in Cunningham Falls State Park. (Right click on the file and select save target as.)
The brook trout is a very colorful fish native to the streams of Catoctin. It is actually not a trout as its common name implies, but is a charr, a close cousin to the trout in the salmon family. Brown and rainbow trout are also present in Catoctin's streams but are not native to the eastern US.