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Cunningham Falls State Park
Based on 119 traveler reviews
We were searching for a beach near NOVA...
Sep 05, 2014 by: Leah M from Fairfax, Virginia
We have a 5 year old and a 2 year old and wanted to take them to the beach for a day without having to drive too far. This was perfect! It's about 1 1/2 hours from Fairfax, VA. We did a little research and found that the beach had a "no swimming" policy after Labor Day. I called the park and they said that is the policy but if they don't see it.... So, we decided to take a chance. When you get there, go towards the William Houck Area (or the lake depending on the sign). I read about different fees, but if you just enter this area for swimming, it's a $3/car fee for MD residents and $5/car fee for everyone else. There are 3 beach areas. We took the first turn into the beach that had the playground. It was perfect because this side of the lake actually offers a little shade on the beach. My kids never even used the playground because they had so much fun in the sand and water. Yes, water! It was not crowded, but everyone was swimming. So great because the water is shallow and a nice temperature. There are areas where the seaweed has built up, but it's mostly by the boat area, so it can easily be avoided. Because it is off season, the shower/changing house is closed. There are other restrooms close by, but only one handicapped stall you could change in on the women's side. The foot/body shower is located at the shower house and that is still functioning. We will definitely go again!
7 mi N of Smithsburg MD, up Hwy 77.
Sep 03, 2014 by: MARVIN S from Weaubleau, Missouri
Nice walking trails to Falls. Nice Lake w/ swimming beach, canoes, & paddle boats. Trash-Free zone. NO Trash Cans! Must take it with you. NO Alcohol!
Trash-Free Experiment = FAIL
Sep 02, 2014 by: ljk73 from Annapolis, Maryland
We visited CFSP last year in the fall and it wasn't bad. Lots of people, but still able to enjoy the hike and the falls. This year however, was quite different. We started at the lower entrance by the lake. We had a small piece of trash to dispose of and asked at the office for a trash can. We were told "Sorry, this is a trash-free park". So this meant we were obliged to carry it with us to the falls and back. Which we did. However, it seems like many others did not. All along the hike to the falls many trash items were easily spotted. Everything from Kleenex tissues, McDonald's cups, drink boxes, straws, spoons, water bottles, to dirty diapers tucked behind rocks. I thought it was bad BEFORE we got to the viewing platform, but once there we saw that the benches and entire area was littered with trash of all kinds, and lots of it. It was not a brilliant idea to make it HARDER for people to do the right thing. Anyway, there were so many people climbing all over the falls and the surrounding area, we may as well have been at an amusement park. It was impossible to enjoy the nature. All this plus $5 each for entry? Never again.
A relaxing day!
Aug 23, 2014 by: Donna V from Ashburn, Virginia
The lake and beach area are so clean! It is so nice to be able to sit back and enjoy a lovely day. There is a nice play area and a grassy area for the kids to run around in when they don't want to be in the water. They have a snack bar. Shower and bathroom facilities are available as well!
Beautiful hike ruined by the park service
Aug 13, 2014 by: Pcperrin from
The hike to the falls takes one through a lush and beautiful area. There are three trails to the falls: two from a parking lot near the lake and one from a wheelchair accessible boardwalk from the main road. We tried the more strenuous (and more beautiful) hike, which takes you up and through a series of boulders before dumping you down to the same viewing platform as the less strenuous (but enjoyable) trail. The destination is incredibly disappointing, not because the falls aren't beautiful, but rather because the "viewing platform" seems to have been built in a spot where the waterfall is as obscured from view as possible (trees in the way). The result is that one is forced to choose whether to obey the large number of park signs/warnings saying to stay on the trail and not cross the stream, or not be able to get a view of the whole reason you hiked there in the first place. We were told the view was much better from the boardwalk hike, but it is not as interesting a walk. Very poorly designed end-trail/platform by the park service in my opinion that basically is self-defeating in the end. I have this 4 stars because the hike is lovely (if disappointing) and the nearby lake is delightful for the kids.
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