The Park is known for its history and scenic beauty, as well as its 78-foot cascading waterfall (locally known as McAfee Falls) - the largest cascading waterfall in the State of Maryland. The park was originally part of the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area created by the federal government in 1936, to demonstrate the restoration of forest lands.
From 1776 to 1903, iron furnaces smelted local ore into pig iron and iron implements. The Catoctin Iron Furnace, built in 1776, was used to supply iron to the Continental Army of George Washington.
Visitors can see a smokestack from 1856 named "Isabella" which is the focal point of the Catoctin Furnace remains, along with a reconstructed casting shed and workers' cottages.
An easy hiking trail leads to the falls, while more difficult trails lead to dramatic rock outcrops that overlook scenic valleys. Mountain bikes are prohibited on all trails. Hunting Creek Lake offers swimming and canoe/paddleboat rentals in the summer.
A boat ramp with a fishing pier is located off Catoctin Hollow Road (gasoline motors are prohibited). Fly fishing, bird watching, camping and hunting are also popular. Catoctin Mountain Park is located north across Route 77 and shares some of the same hiking trails. The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo is located across Route 15, east of the park.