Palmer State Park is a public recreation area located on Catoctin Mountain in Frederick County, Maryland. The state park’s main feature is the 48-acre (19ha) summit of Bald Eagle Peak. It is known as “Frederick’s Monument” and offers views of the city of Frederick and nearby Mount Saint Joseph College.
On May 22, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the new monument in honor of those Americans who fought for freedom in World Wars I and II. The memorial stands about two miles northwest of Frederick on Catoctin Mountain above the city. Accessible by elevator, it rises to the top of Bald Eagle Peak, offering views of the city and surrounding countryside. Atop sits a circular tower with observation deck; the base is formed by four large monoliths. From this height, there are fine views of the mountains surrounding Frederick.
The park includes several trails leading to the summit of Bald Eagle Peak, the highest point in the immediate vicinity. These include the Yellow Trail, which climbs to the top in 2.5 hours, and the Red Trail which takes five times as long but goes directly to the summit via a shortcut across the upper level of the park. The park also features Little Falls Lake, dammed in 1951 when Hurricane Diane destroyed 38 homes and caused $3 million damage. The lake provides fishing opportunities for bass, crappie, northern pike, catfish, perch and trout. There is a boat launch near the campground and cabins. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddle boats, and pedal boats can be rented from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Camping facilities include 140 campsites divided into tent or RV sites and cabin site. Half of the campsites are available on a first come, first served basis while the remainder must be reserved. Tent and Rv camping is permitted throughout the year, however, space is limited to modern amenities such as electricity and water. Eighteen primitive campsites are scattered through the park, accessible only by footpath or trail. Five yurts are available to rent all year round. Each yurt has wooden floors, windows, skylights, electric lights, heat, air conditioning, cooking utensils, bathhouse/toilet facility, and yard area with fire ring and picnic table. Cabin sites may be reserved beginning April 1 for stays between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Yurts and cabins are available for use only during the summer season.
The park was named after William P. Palmer who served as governor of Maryland from 1855 to 1861. During his term, the University of Maryland was founded and chartered at St. Marys City. In 1860, during the American Civil War, Confederate forces seized control of the town of Frederick, forcing its Union defenders into an exodus that would become known as the Great Migration. Many settled around what became the town of Sandy Point which later grew up around the railroad station on the north end of the park grounds. Palmer State Park officially opened in June 1942.