THURMONT, MD – Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes and U.S. Senator Richard Durbin announced on June 2nd the designation of the Catoctin Trail and 40 other trails as National Recreation Trails, adding almost 650 miles of trails to the National Trails System. Encompassing 17 states, the land and water trails provide opportunities for communities to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors as part of a healthier lifestyle, the core principles behind President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside! initiatives.
The 26.6-mile Catoctin Trail (Big Blue) passes through Catoctin Mountain Park (NPS), Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State parks, and two municipal watersheds while traversing the eastern-most ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland. The trail provides recreation to the nearby towns of Thurmont, Smithsburg, and Frederick and also serves over three million visitors per year from the Washington-Baltimore metro area. Portions of the trail were originally designed and constructed by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Along its route are pre-historic and historic resources, including Indian flint-napping sites and Colonial charcoal hearths. The trail skirts several lakes and accesses numerous scenic vistas including views of the Monocacy River Valley and one of Maryland’s largest cascading waterfalls. A diverse partnership manages the recreational uses along the trail.
“From coast to coast, National Recreation Trails help connect Americans with the wonders of America’s Great Outdoors,” said Deputy Secretary Hayes. “Today’s new National Recreation Trails, built through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, provide great opportunities for people to get outside, get active and have fun. The trails establish a strong link in our urban and rural communities alike to a conservation legacy for future generations to build upon.”
Thursday’s announcement comes in advance of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4. Catoctin Mountain Park will commemorate the day with a volunteer trail-work event. Nationwide, hundreds of organized activities will include hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications.