While I think I’ll always be a winter gal at heart, some years, fall just sneaks right up the season chart and threatens to steal the top spot. Depsite the early-feeling autumn, this is one of those years. And so we decided, what better time to FINALLY cross off our Achievement to visit Swallow Falls State Park (which has only been on the list since 2010 haha).
Swallow Falls State Park is technically in an area called Garrett, MD (Fox trivia fact: that’s also the location of my first marching band competition ever, back in 1996!), but we consider it ‘Deep Creek.’ When we visited, we actually stayed nearby in Keyser, WV, because dog-friendly hotels are a bit tricky to find in the immediate Garrett/Deep Creek/Oakland area. Keyser was about 40-45 minutes away from the state park, but it was a gorgeous drive, so we didn’t mind.
The Swallow Falls Canyon Trail makes a big loop through the three waterfall areas. The waterfalls are the main attraction to this park, and you can visit all of them by hiking the big circle, which conveniently travels in order from smallest to largest falls.
(A brief warning: being in the woods totally brings out my inner hippy. A lot. So… you’ve been warned.)
This is the Youghiogheny River, which flows by all of the waterfalls, and also up by our other favorite place, Ohiopyle. (And if you think this river is flowing, you should have seen the Big Savage River (also near Keyser, WV), and all the crazies kayaking on it!)
You can climb around the rocks at the upper and lower falls area, weather permitting. People even had their dogs up on the rocks! (We did not bring Lucy, as her excitement would probably not be the safest thing at this height. People had their kids dangling off of ledges and everything!)
There was also this so-adorable deer at the bottom of the rocks near the falls. She was tame enough that she was letting people pet her! (We didn’t make it down in time to do that, but she did pose for several sweet, curious photos for us!)
And finally, your hike (after you take a bunch of popping into the frame photos, of course) lands you at the biggest of the falls – the biggest waterfall in all of Maryland, for that matter – Muddy Creek Falls. I’d seen pictures from when my parents visited a few summers ago, but the pictures hardly do it justice. This thing is massive and dramatic and gorgeous. I offered to take photo for the nice middle-aged couple at the falls, and they took this one for us.
What I loved about Muddy Creek Falls is that they were dramatic from any angle: below, halfway up, or on the big flat rock at the top (where people, again, had their dogs! what dogs behave well enough for these outings??). This was taken from about halfway up the stairs that lead to the top of the falls.
Swallow Falls State Park is a really beautiful spot to visit, and it’s also super-convenient to Pittsburgh. We chose to make a weekend out of it, staying down in Keyser (I’m hoping to do a blog about that as well, to show you what other great things we visited on this trip), but you can do the trek in a single day, or cut the distance by staying in Ohiopyle. (Again, dog-friendly lodging in Keyser was the main reason we ultimately chose that location, and dog-friendly trails to hike are nearby at Big Savage River.)