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The Best Hikes in Maryland Every Hiker Will Enjoy

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Stunning Hiking Trails in Maryland You Have See

From the rugged peaks of the Appalachian Mountains to the serene shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland is a charming state that offers a wealth of outdoor experiences and hikes for all skill levels. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll through a local park or you want a challenging hike up a mountain, you’ll find exactly what you’re interested in when you check out these best hikes in Maryland.

1. Calvert Cliffs State Park

Located in Calvert County on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay, Calvert Cliffs State Park offers great views of the bay, unique fossils, excellent bird watching opportunities, and several fantastic hiking trails. The park is known for its dramatic cliffs and wide sandy beaches, making it a prime spot for nature photographers to capture stunning photos of Maryland’s natural beauty.

The most iconic hike in the park is the Red Trail, which is a must-visit for any avid hiker. This 3.8-mile out-and-back trail takes you on a journey through lush forests and sandy shores, leading to the park’s star attraction — the towering cliffs.

Related: 10 Beginner Hiking Mistakes You Never Want to Make

Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a treasure trove of fossilized shark teeth, seashells, and other remnants from the prehistoric era. Once you’re done exploring the cliffs, you can take the Orange Trail back to the parking lot for a nice blend of woodland scenery and serene marshes.

If you’re seeking a more leisurely stroll, the Blue Trail, Yellow Trail, and White Trail are all excellent choices. They wind through picturesque woodlands that are calm and shady.

2. Maryland Heights Trail – Harpers Ferry

A sunset view from Maryland Heights overlooking Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

The Maryland Heights Trail is a 4.5-mile round trip hike that offers spectacular views of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. You can also add the 2-mile Stone Fort Loop trail for more unique views of the area.

The trail starts near the historic town of Harpers Ferry and gradually ascends to the summit of Maryland Heights, offering panoramic vistas of the Shenandoah River and Potomac River below. While the ascent is strenuous at times, the views from the top are worth every step!

Related: 10 Can’t-Miss Hiking Trails You Can Only Find in West Virginia

Be prepared for a moderate to strenuous hike, as you’ll be gaining some elevation along the way. Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and pack some snacks to refuel along the trail.

As you hike, you’ll pass by remnants of Civil War fortifications and even an old stone artillery tower. At the summit of Maryland Heights, you’ll find a comfortable spot to sit, relax, and soak in the beauty around you.

Take your time to enjoy the tranquility and marvel at the natural splendor that stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s the perfect place for a well-deserved break before heading back down.

3. Swallow Falls State Park

Muddy Creek Falls in Swallow Falls State Park

Swallow Falls State Park is a hidden gem tucked away in Western Maryland that offers stunning waterfalls, peaceful trails, and a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s also home to the spectacular 54-foot Muddy Creek Falls, which is the highest free-falling waterfall in Maryland.

The Swallow Falls Canyon Trail is a beautiful trail and your ticket to witnessing this waterfall and several others up close. Even better, this 1.25-mile loop is an easy trail that everyone in the family can handle.

It takes you on a leisurely stroll through an old growth forest as it leads you to Muddy Creek Falls, Lower Swallow Falls, Upper Swallow Falls, and Tolliver Falls.

If you’re up for more adventure, you can take the 5.5-mile trail to nearby Herrington Manor State Park. This trail winds through the serene Garrett State Forest and offers glimpses of abundant wildlife. Keep in mind that this trail is also open to mountain bikers.

Related: Hikers vs. Mountain Bikers: Who Should Yield on the Trail?

4. Cunningham Falls State Park

Cunningham Falls State Park is another great place to see some lovely waterfalls in Maryland. The park is situated in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains and is divided into two separate and unique areas.

The William Houck Area has a lake, the waterfalls, and camping area. The Manor Area is about 3 miles south and has the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping, and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace​.

Each area has a range of trails suitable for hikers of all skill levels. If you’re up for a moderate challenge, the Lower Trail in the William Houck Area is a fantastic option.

Related: 10 Things You Should Pack for Every Hike (Even Day Hikes!)

This 0.5-mile trail takes you through a diverse mix of woodlands and streams, offering serene beauty at every turn. The highlight of this trail is undoubtedly the cascading Cunningham Falls, which is the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland.

Another fantastic option in the William Houck Area with equally impressive views is the Cliff Trail. This 0.75-mile trail offers a strenuous hike past rock outcrops that lead to the falls.

In the Manor Area, Bob’s Hill Trail is a 1.5-mile steep, strenuous trail that leads to the top of Bob’s Hill for scenic views. This is also where you can find the 27-mile Catoctin Trail.

This strenuous trail goes from Gambrill State Park through Frederick City Watershed, Cunningham Falls State Park, and Catoctin Mountain Park.

5. Catoctin Mountain Park

Scenic view in Catoctin Mountain Park

Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north-central Maryland, Catoctin Mountain Park has 25 miles of hiking trails that range from easy, short trails to strenuous trails that will challenge even avid hikers.

The East Side trails include stunning overlooks, picturesque waterfalls, and lovely forests. If you’re looking for an easy hike that’s great for kids, the Hog Rock Nature Trail is a fantastic option. This mile-long trail is an extension of the Hog Rock Loop Trail.

Related: The Most Comfortable Hiking Backpacks for Every Type of Hiker

As the trail winds through the woods, you’ll notice numerous labeled posts that accompany a brochure guide you can obtain at the trailhead or Visitor Center. The posts and guide identify several fascinating features you’ll discover along the trail.

The West Side Trails of Catoctin Mountain Park offer a quieter hiking experience. Here you’re more likely to see wildlife, wetlands, and an up-close view of nature.

The 0.5-mile one-way Browns Farm Trail and 0.4-mile Browns Farm Nature Trail Loop take you past remnants of a former farm. For something a little more challenging, consider the 4.75-mile one-way Catoctin National Recreation Trail.

6. Washington Monument State Park

You might be familiar with the iconic Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., but did you know that’s not the first monument dedicated to George Washington? Washington Monument State Park is home to this historic landmark — the first monument built to honor George Washington.

Located atop South Mountain, Washington Monument is a rugged stone tower that was initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827. But beyond its historical significance, this park also offers fantastic hiking opportunities.

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The Washington Monument Trail is a moderate out-and-back trail that takes you through wooded areas and eventually leads you to the iconic stone tower. As you ascend, be prepared for stunning vistas of the surrounding countryside.

Most of the Washington Monument’s hiking trail is part of the Appalachian Trail. After your hike, take a moment to explore the Washington Monument museum, where you can learn more about its history and the surrounding area.

7. Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park is a true gem for hikers of all levels. Extending along 32 miles of the Patapsco River and encompassing 16,000 acres in 5 developed recreational areas, the park has over 200 miles of trails with something for everyone.

One of the park’s highlights is the Cascade Falls Loop Trail. This 2.3-mile loop takes you on a journey through lush forests, alongside cascading waterfalls, and offers stunning views of the water. The serenity and natural beauty of this trail will leave you in awe.

If you’re up for a longer trek, the Ridge Trail is a great option. This 7.7-mile trail winds through the park’s rolling hills, offering panoramic views of the surrounding valley.

Along the way, you might spot white-tailed deer, foxes, and a variety of bird species. It’s a perfect trail for those seeking a more immersive nature experience.

8. Greenbrier State Park

Greenbrier State Park is the perfect place for hikers looking to escape the crowds. Located in Washington County, Greenbrier is a lovely park that has camping, almost 11 miles of hiking trails, and a 42-acre man-made lake.

Most of Greenbriar’s trails are classified as moderate to strenuous, so be prepared for some steep climbs and rugged terrain.

Related: 10 Hikes in Virginia With the Most Breathtaking Views

Parts of the Camp Loop Trail and Big Red Trail go along the picturesque Greenbrier Lake, offering tranquil views and a chance to spot some wildlife. They’re the ideal trails for a leisurely stroll or a family outing.

For those seeking a more challenging adventure, a stretch of the AT (Appalachian Trail) runs through the southeastern corner of the park. You can take the Bartman’s Hill Trail through a mix of wooded areas and rocky terrain to reach this popular and famous hiking trail.

9. Annapolis Rock/Black Rock Cliff

Annapolis Rock/Black Rock Cliff is one of the most popular hiking trails in the state. When you see the breathtaking views for yourself, you’ll quickly understand why. Not only is this a popular location for hikers, but it’s also a favorite spot for rock climbers.

This 7.9-mile out-and-back trail takes you through lush woodlands, rocky terrain, and eventually rewards you with panoramic views from Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff. Trust me, the sights from these overlooks are simply jaw-dropping!

Although it’s generally considered a moderately challenging hike, you will find a steep climb in some places. The trail can also be quite rocky in places, so be prepared and watch your step. Trekking poles can come in handy for added stability!

10. Sugarloaf Mountain

Although Sugarloaf Mountain is a relatively small mountain in the area, it still offers some of the best hikes in Maryland — especially for families or a novice hiker.

If you’re looking for a short hike to the summit, there are two trails that start from the parking areas. The easiest trail is the 1/4-mile Green Trail from the West View parking area.

The other option is the 1/4-mile Orange Trail from the East View parking area. This trail is steep and can sometimes get worn out, so make sure you’re wearing good hiking boots and always watch your step.

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Since the area has a convenient network of trails, you can easily turn all of your hikes into longer trips if you so desire. The Blue Trail, Yellow Trail, and Purple Trail all wind away from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain and into lush forests.

Even though the trails are usually well marked, the intersections and overlapping segments can sometimes get a little confusing. It’s always a good idea to carry a printed copy of the trail map with you just for added peace of mind.

Exploring the Best Hikes in Maryland

Whether you’re looking to take a nice walk in the woods or conquer some serious hills, Maryland has plenty of hiking trails for you. The next time you feel the need to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, consider heading out on one of these best hiking trails in Maryland.

More Helpful Hiking Tips

Did you enjoy learning more about the best hikes in Maryland? Interested in discovering even more tips that will help you get outside and start hiking? Then please be sure to take a look at some of our other popular posts:

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