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Explorations! Field Trip
Explorations! Field Trip

Sat, Nov 04


Peniel lot

Explorations! Field Trip

Join the Rockville Science Center for a geological tour of Cunningham Falls State Park with geologist Jake Margolis.

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Time & Location

Nov 04, 2023, 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Peniel lot, 6601 Foxville Rd Thurmont, MD 21788

About the event

Ages 12 - adult

Tour is limited to 20 participants

Join the Rockville Science Center for a tour of the geology of Cunningham Falls State Park with geologist Jake Margolis. Learn about the Park’s 600 million years of geologic history that includes volcanoes, continental breakups, continental collisions and the intense heat and pressure the region was subjected to. Enjoy some time hiking and enjoying fall foliage. The tour will include a written guide, which will be sent to participants prior to the trip. Stops will include an introductory talk, an easy hike (15 minutes) to the falls on the Lower Falls Trail, a moderate hike (30-45 minutes) option on the Cliff Trail returning from the falls, a lunch stop at the lake dam (30 to 60 minutes) and a hike on the Misery Trail to Cat Rock (2 hours).

The tour will start promptly at 9:30 am at a location (see below) on Route 77 between Thurmont and the entrance to the park. The tour should end by 3:30 pm. 

First stop of tour: From Route 15 north of Frederick, exit onto Route 77 at Thurmont and head west toward Catoctin Park and Cunningham Falls Park. The parking lot is on the left (south) side of the road approximately 1.8 miles from the Route 15/77 intersection; it is about 0.8 miles past the “Welcome to Catoctin Park” sign, which is on the right. Drive slowly, as the parking lot is shortly after a sharp left bend in the road. There should be ample room to park. If the lot is full, there is another parking lot on the other (right) side of the road.

Diving time to the meeting stop from the intersection of 270 and the Washington Beltway is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes without heavy traffic. Please try to arrive by 9:15 am if possible. We will start promptly at 9:30 am. We suggest checking with Google maps on the driving time to Thurmont (intersection of Routes 15 and 77 north of Frederick). If you arrive late and no one is at the meet-up location (Stop 1), proceed to Stop 2, the parking lot for the falls trails within Cunningham Falls Park. See the guide for mileages and directions.

Gotta Know:

  • This trip is limited to the first 20 people, ages 12 and up only.
  • No Drop Offs! You need a car.
  • Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • You must fill out and sign the Rockville Science Center Liability Form. We will have forms for you to sign.
  • No pets are allowed.
  • Bring lunch or snacks and sufficient water and drinks; there will be a half-hour lunch stop included.
  • Wear hiking shoes/boots or other shoes with a decent grabby tread
  • No sandals, flip-flops, high heels or soft flat-soled shoes; trails are locally rocky and slippery.
  • Bring a walking stick if you feel you may need support.
  • Trails include easy flat to steep and rocky conditions. Participants should be in appropriate physical condition.
  • This is back country. There may be a port-a-potty on short trail. There are only men's and ladies trees on the Misery/Catrock trail. Be prepared.
  • The group should stick together. Jake will be pointing out things and is there to answer questions, so keeping together helps.
  • At each stop there is sufficient parking in safe off-the-road parking lots
  • This trip will run rain or shine unless rain and/or cold is extreme, in which case you will be notified the day before.
  • There is some cell-phone service within the park, but it may not be available everywhere.
  • The park has a $3 donation fee (unless you have a Maryland Park’s Pass) at the gate just before the parking lot for the falls hike. Please bring $3 in cash.


  • Explorations Field Trip

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