With school back in session, outdoor family trips are tougher to schedule this time of year, but one weekend excursion to consider is to Swallow Falls State Park.
In far western Maryland– just two or three miles from the West Virginia border– the park is best known for its falls along the Youghiogheny River, but easy trails through the quiet forest shouldn’t be missed.
The park is about 3.5 hours from York, whichever route is taken from York. Taking the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Bedford and then south is seven minutes faster, but will cost $30 roundtrip. Or, take U.S. Route 30 to Interstate 81 to Interstate 70 west for free.
From the website– This mountain park is located nine miles north of Oakland, Maryland and contains some of Maryland’s most breathtaking scenery. The Youghiogheny River flows along the park’s borders, passing through shaded rocky gorges and creating rippling rapids.
Muddy Creek Falls is a crashing 53-foot waterfall – a spectacular sight. Tall hemlocks dominate the silent woods. The 1 1/4 mile trail through Swallow Falls guides hikers to some of the most breath-taking scenery in Western Maryland.
In 1918, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and naturalist John Burroughs camped here. Imagine, if you can, the discussions around that campfire.
Also nearby (about five miles) is the Cranesville Swamp Natural Area. The trail through the this protected area is one of the few boreal bogs still remaining in the southern United States and was one of the first National Natural Landmarks to be designated by the National Park Service in 1965.
Five miles east of Swallow Falls is Deep Creek Lake State Park, with its 1,800 acres. It joins Deep Creek Lake Natural Resources Management Area and its 3,900-acre man-made lake.
Mountain Lake Park is a fine example of a Victorian resort that grew out of two American activities of the nineteenth century, the Methodist Camp Meeting which was aimed at spiritual renewal and a Chautauqua, an educational and recreational assembly with programs that included lectures and concerts modeled after the original summer schools inaugurated at Chautauqua, New York in 1874– From the website.
More information on Mountain Lake Park and the walking tours around the Historic District can be obtained from the Mountain Lake Park Historic Association, the Town of Mountain Lake Park, 1007 Allegheny Drive, Mountain Lake Park, MD 21550.