Catoctin Mountain Park | BLUE BLAZES WHISKEY STILL TRAIL

Blue Blazes Whiskey Still at Catoctin Mountain Park

Blue Blazes Whiskey Still at Catoctin Mountain Park

Length:  .7 mile round trip
Time:  20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

The Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park is a short out-and-back trail that leads to the site of the Prohibition-era Blue Blazes Whiskey Still. This was a large commercial operation, not just some guy making whiskey to sell to his friends for extra cash. When the cops finally busted it in 1929, they found eighteen 500-gallon vats. During Prohibition, bootleggers could get over $20 a gallon for booze.

The still gets its name from Blue Blazes Run, a small stream that passes through the area. Moonshiners needed water to make their liquor, so stills were usually set up near a water source.

Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park follows Blue Blazes Run

Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park follows Blue Blazes Run

One word of warning about hiking ANYWHERE in Catoctin Mountain Park during the summer: there are a ton of gnats. I knew even the short Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail was going to be bad when I saw four people returning from the still waving their hands vigorously in front of their faces. I highly advise wearing a hat and mosquito net on your head—I had one in my bag just by chance. I saw dozens of people at Catoctin Mountain Park with mosquito nets during my four-day visit, so it appears that the locals know to come prepared.

The Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail starts at the gravel parking lot across the street from the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center. A wayside exhibit at the trailhead gives a short history of the still.

Start of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Start of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

The hike to the still is easy. It is slightly uphill on the way out, but the incline is so mild that it is barely noticeable. No need for water, hiking poles, or hiking boots for that matter. Tennis shoes, or even flip flops, are fine. However, the trail is not handicap accessible due to a few short sections where there are some protruding roots.

Rooty section of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Rooty section of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail at Catoctin Mountain Park

Not long after starting the hike, the trail crosses a road. To continue, take a short jog to the left on the road and look for a sign that marks where the trail veers back into the forest.

Intersection of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail and road at Catoctin Mountain Park

Intersection of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail and road at Catoctin Mountain Park

Once across the road there is a rooty section, but then the trail becomes a nicely groomed gravel path. It continues to follow Blue Blazes Run, so there is always pleasant scenery.

Gravel path of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail follows Blue Blazes Run at Catoctin Mountain Park

Gravel path of the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail follows Blue Blazes Run at Catoctin Mountain Park

Along the trail are wayside exhibits about the ecology of the area and one about a deadly shootout in 1929 when a police officer was killed during a raid on the still.

Wayside exhibit about a shootout with police at the Blue Blazes Still in Catoctin Mountain Park

Wayside exhibit about a shootout with police at the Blue Blazes Still in Catoctin Mountain Park

At the end of the trail is what I am certain is a reproduction of the Blue Blazes Still. I imagine that when the cops finally busted it that everything would have been torn down. If that didn’t happen, time and souvenir hunters surely would have gotten rid of anything left standing.

Blue Blazes Still exhibit at Catoctin Mountain Park

Blue Blazes Still exhibit at Catoctin Mountain Park

Blue Blazes Still exhibit at Catoctin Mountain Park

Blue Blazes Still exhibit at Catoctin Mountain Park

When done checking out the still and reading the two wayside exhibits, head back the way you came. Round trip is about .7 mile, and it takes less than a half hour to complete the hike.

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Last updated on January 30, 2023
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