8 Best Things to Do in Swallow Falls State Park (+Photos)

Growing up and living in Maryland, as an adult and an outdoor enthusiast, I always researched to see if there were any state parks in my home state that I still needed to visit. Living roughly three-and-a-half hours away, Swallow Falls State Park was one of the final destinations I still hadn’t explored. As hiking was always my go-to when visiting any state park, I knew at this location I was most excited to see the cascading waterfalls the area had to offer.

While you can visit this waterfall paradise anytime, I decided to visit during the summer to take advantage of the swimming and fishing opportunities. If you’re planning to travel to Maryland any time soon, here are some of the activities you can add to your itinerary.

Hike the Canyon Trail

Canyon Trail

As a Maryland native, I knew Swallow Falls State Park had some of the most scenic trails in the area, so I immediately wanted to hike the Canyon Trail. Roughly about a mile-and-a-half long, I encountered wild rhododendrons and frequent rock outcroppings. From the Canyon Loop Trail, you could access Muddy Creek, which I visited later on during my trip, and Tolliver Falls, a hidden gem of the area.

Pro Tip: Proceed cautiously next to the river, as the current is swift and the rocks are slippery.

Stay in a Camper Cabin


As I knew I’d be in the area for more than a day, I knew I wanted to find a cozy spot that was relatively close to nature, but I also didn’t want to book an RV. Swallow Falls has three different camper cabin options, but mine came with a double bed, air conditioner, a mini fridge, chairs and folding table, and microwave.

The cabin was located comfortably in between hemlock trees, which gave me the chance in my downtime to rest comfortably with nature in a serene atmosphere.

Pro Tip: If traveling between April and December, you must book your reservation in advance.

Visit Muddy Creek Falls

Muddy Creek Falls

I’ll admit, Muddy Creek Falls was the highlight of my trip as it’s one of the highest waterfalls in Maryland. As I made my way to the falls, I headed down a boardwalk to get a better view but took the trails and stairs to get closer. The falls were surrounded by hemlock trees and had proper markings around the area so you could easily find your way around. The pathway was also wheelchair accessible and easy for families with small children to use.

Pro Tip: Locals in the area told me the best time to visit the falls is after a storm or heavy rainfall.

Take a Dip in the Swimming Hole at Tolliver Falls

Tolliver Falls

After visiting Muddy Creek Falls, I wondered if any other areas allowed swimming since that area was off-limits. One portion of the park that I found that was often overlooked was Tolliver Falls. Known as a hidden gem in the area, this waterfall was around 15 feet tall, and even though it wasn’t as impressive as Muddy Creek, the water cascaded down rocky ledges to a shallow swimming pool.

Since this seemed to be a hidden spot, it wasn’t very crowded, which I enjoyed, so I decided to dip in the swimming hole as it was the middle of summer. I highly recommend Tolliver Falls if you’re looking for peacefulness and serenity, or if you need to cool during a humid Maryland day.

Go Fishing


As I’ve been to many state parks across the country, this was one of the few that allowed fishing, so I made sure before leaving that I had my fishing gear packed. Whether you’re a fishing professional or enjoy it as a hobby like I do, this area was stocked with smallmouth bass and rainbow trout fish. The fishing area spans four miles from Deep Creek Lake to the Sang Run Bridge.

Pro Tip: The DNR (Department of Natural Resources) recommends caution while fishing because the river can rapidly rise during releases. I recommend calling ahead for release information if you plan to fish during your trip.

Walk Along the Youghiogheny River

Youghiogheny River

After trying my luck at fishing and catching a few smallmouth bass, I walked along the Youghiogheny River, which began peacefully. The river changed character along the way, and the further I walked, the deeper and narrow it became. I saw swift currents, waterfalls, and rough rapids that were highly sought after by water enthusiasts.

The intensity of the rapids made areas of the river dangerous and challenging to navigate, especially if you’re not experienced. As a beginner, I decided to book a trip with Precision Rafting for a beginner floating tour up a mild part of the river.

Go Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking

As one of my final outdoor activities in the area, I wanted to take the scenic route and decided to go mountain biking through the trails. I started in Herrington Manor and made my way back to Swallow Falls. This was a straightforward trailhead that ran for five-and-a-half miles. Since I didn’t bring a bike, I rented one from the lake house, which cost $14 per hour.

If you’ll only be on the trailhead for a short time, I recommend paying the hourly fee. Otherwise, you can pay $35 for a full day of bike rentals.

Grab a Steak Dinner


With all of the outdoor excitement, one of my favorite things to do is to always find a hearty meal at every state park I visit. As a Maryland native, we have our fair share of seafood during the summer, so I knew I wanted something different for dinner. I came across the Pine Lodge Steakhouse, which has seafood and delicious steaks, too!

This steakhouse had a gorgeous setting and memorable dining experience as I indulged in mouthwatering Trailboss porterhouse steak! I loved how it had a secluded mountain retreat feel with a casual atmosphere.

Pro Tip: If you’re traveling with a pet, you’ll be pleased to know that this location has pet-friendly outside dining available when the weather is nice.

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