A mystical forest reigns on the edge of western Maryland where a child’s imagination is invited to run wild amidst the ancient trees, massive boulders and waterfalls. Children will walk on the land where Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs had camped in the 1900’s. The children ramble about how the waterfall got the name, Swallow Falls, confidently declaring past adventures that must have gone horribly wrong. (The name Swallow Falls honored the cliff swallows that nested next to the falls – but don’t tell the kids, for their stories provide more intrigue and terror.)
Swallow Falls State Park has a one-and-a-quarter mile hiking trail that winds along the Youghiohany River. Giant boulders are in abundance underfoot and along the side of the trail. The oldest trees in the state of Maryland, 300 year old majestic virgin hemlock and white pines, overshadow everything. Tree roots dominate the boulders creating camera worthy artistic patterns.The hiking trail leads to four waterfalls. Tolliver, Swallow, Lower and Muddy Creek which is Maryland’s highest free-falling waterfall and houses rocks estimated over 300 million years old.
Before heading to the trail, pack a camera, lunch, and a few kids. On your journey, encourage the kids to climb the boulders, in and out of crevices, and weave through the trees. Take time to relax on a boulder by the waterfall or under the canopy of towering hemlocks and entice the children in conversation. Let them conjure up crazy adventures that may have occurred in this mystical forest in the hundreds or millions of years past.
Enjoy your time on the edge; the edge of Maryland and the edge of imaginations gone wild.
For more information:
Swallow Falls State Park is located in Garrett County near Oakland, MD. The park has camping and RV sites or one can choose the luxury of lodging at Deep Creek Lake, a scenic drive from the falls.