Maryland may be the ninth smallest state in the US, but it is full of natural beauty. From sparkling waterfalls and rugged cliffs to awe-inspiring caverns and breathtaking beaches, there is a lot to see and explore in the great outdoors of this small state. The best time to visit is naturally, in the spring and summer. The weather is perfect for hiking the trails, exploring the state parks, or even relaxing on the beach. However, the state is beautiful at any time of the year and is home to many natural wonders, a must-see for anyone visiting the state.
1. Swallow Falls State Park
Located in Western Maryland, this 257-acre park features amazing hiking trails and beautiful waterfalls. The park is open year-round, boasting rushing waters in the spring and summer, stunning fall foliage, and a magical frozen landscape in the winter. At 53 feet, Muddy Creek Falls is Maryland’s tallest free-falling waterfall. The Youghiogheny River runs along the park’s border so visitors here can also swim and fish while picnicking and camping. The 300-year-old Hemlock trees are another unique feature.
2. Deep Creek Lake
Nestled in the mountains of Western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is ten minutes away from Swallow Falls State Park. Constructed between 1923 and 1925, the lake is an artificially built reservoir. Spanning over 3,900 acres, with over 65 miles of shoreline, it is the largest freshwater lake in Maryland. There are plenty of activities for Deep Creek Lake visitors all year round. In the summer you can enjoy boating, kayaking, waterboarding, swimming, and fishing. In winter, you can ice-fish, drive snowmobiles on the frozen lake, and go snowshoeing with the mountains as a picturesque backdrop.
3. Calvert Cliffs
Southern Maryland is home to massive, breathtaking cliffs that cover about 24 miles of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. The Calvert Cliffs formed around 10 to 20 million years ago when the warm, shallow sea that covered all of Southern Maryland receded. The state built a State Park around the cliffs, eponymously named Calvert Cliffs State Park. The park has 13 miles of hiking trails and a sandy beach. It is famous for more than 600 species of fossils found by scientists and researchers in the area. Apart from prehistoric plants, they have found fossils of many animals, including the megalodon.
4. Assateague Island
With 37 miles of white sandy beach, Assateague Island might be one of the best beaches on the East Coast. It also has maritime forests and salt marshes, but the main reasons for its fame are the wild horses that freely roam its shoreline. The island is a haven for bird watchers, with around 320 species of birds flying in to feed and rest throughout the year. For people who like action-packed holidays, there are options for activities like biking, kayaking, and swimming on the island as well.
5. Billy Goat Trail
One of the best-known hiking trails in the area, the Billy Goat Trail gets its name because hikers need to be as sure-footed, and nimble as goats to traverse it. The trail has three sections, which are all connected to the C&O Canal Towpath. Doing the whole trail means a demanding hike of nearly eight miles, which takes around four to five hours. Trail A is the most difficult, with steep and slim ledges, almost vertical rocks for scrambling across, and gaps to jump over. Trail B is moderately difficult, and Trail C is a leisurely stroll through the woods.
6. Crystal Grottoes Caverns
A construction crew chanced upon the Crystal Grottoes Caverns by accident while quarrying for limestone in 1920. The caves opened to the public two years later, with the first tickets for only seven cents at the time. Crystal Grottoes Caverns have more natural formations per square foot than any other cave. Visitors can look around one-third of the caverns, as the remaining two-thirds are too narrow to navigate. The Blanket Room is the largest area with large sheets of stalactites hanging in clusters from its ceiling. There is also a small lake, maintained by drip water.
7. Sunflowers at Mckee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area
Anyone who enjoys walking through fields of flowers must visit the Sunflower Fields at Mckee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Maryland. Authorities plant sunflowers in spring to create a food source for mourning doves and other wildlife species. The flowers bloom in late July, and the public is welcome to visit the fields to take pictures and absorb the beauty. Once the plants stop blooming, workers mow the strips to scatter their seeds on the ground so they are accessible to the doves and other animals.
Maryland has plenty to offer to anyone who enjoys being outdoors and many natural wonders. Visitors can choose from relaxing in scenic outdoor spaces to adventuring through challenging routes with plenty of beautiful backdrops to execute an elaborate photo shoot. A lot of tourists flock to Washington DC to see the historical and political landmarks, and then take a break in nature when they have seen enough monuments and museums.