There’s something for everyone in Maryland State Parks. If you’re a history fanatic, there are plenty of colonial-era towns to explore. The Eastern Shore is teeming with wildlife sanctuaries and parks if you’re a nature lover. And if you’re looking for a place to relax and take a break from the world, there is no shortage of State Parks in Maryland.
From the beaches of Assateague Island to the rolling hills of Patapsco Valley State Park, these green havens provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, relaxation, and family fun.
If you’re looking for a soul-nourishing escape, Maryland State Parks are one of the best things to do. So pack your bags and head to Maryland – the state park capital of America!
#1 – Seneca Creek State Park
The expansive 6,300 acres of Seneca Creek State Park offer a little bit of everything, from forests and fields to lakes and streams. The park is home to over 60 miles of hiking trails, making it a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The park’s meadows come alive with colorful wildflowers, attracting butterflies and birds in the springtime.
Seneca Creek State Park is a popular choice among travelers regarding the best Maryland State Parks for camping.
The park stays open till sunset so the visitors can soak in the picturesque views of the creek and the valley. If your fate is smiling at you, you might even catch a glimpse of the resident beavers and otters!
#2 – Cunningham Falls State Park
Nestled in the scenic Catoctin Mountains, Cunningham Falls State Park is home to Maryland’s tallest waterfall. The 78-foot cascade tumbles down a rocky cliff into a picturesque pool, making it a popular spot for swimming and picnicking in the summer.
This park transforms into a frozen wonderland in the winter, attracting ice climbers. The park is also home to plenty of hiking trails, so you can explore the woods and take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. This one swiftly makes it to the list of the most visited parks in Maryland with waterfalls.
#3 – Patapsco Valley State Park
Ellicott City, MD
Just a short drive from Baltimore, Patapsco Valley State Park is one of Maryland’s most popular State Parks. The park spans over 16,000 acres and eight developed recreational areas, making it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
The park offers a vast range of fun-filled activities for visitors, from hiking and biking to fishing and kayaking. And if you’re looking for a challenge, the park’s 32 miles of trails are perfect for a day of hiking or mountain biking. You’ll hear the musical croaking and hooting of the resident frogs and toads as you explore this natural oasis.
#4 – Assateague Island State Park
Berlin, MD – Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Assateague State Park is located on an island off the coast of Maryland and is best known for its free-roaming ponies. These ponies are feral horses that have been roaming the island for centuries.
The island is also home to wildlife, including white-tailed deer, red foxes, and ospreys. In addition, visitors can enjoy activities like hiking, biking, and fishing. Assateague state park is also one of the best places to go kayaking in Maryland if looking for an outdoor adventure. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of bottle-nose dolphins and occasional whales offshore.
The trails are perfect for a stroll or a vigorous hike, and the beach is ideal for a relaxing day in the sun.
#5 – Deep Creek Lake State Park
If you’re searching for a magical spot to cool off in the summer, Deep Creek Lake State Park is the perfect spot. Located in Western Maryland, the park is home to Deep Creek Lake – the state’s largest freshwater lake.
The lake is a crowd cheering destination for swimming, fishing, and boating. You can devour your picnic lunch at one of the many picnic areas or take a scenic hike through the woods. And in the winter, the lake transforms into a paradise for ice skaters, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers.
Deep Creek Lake is also one of the best places to see Fall Foliages in Maryland.
#6 – Swallow Falls State Park
Royally resting on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River, Swallow Falls State Park is one of Maryland’s hidden gems. There are several parks in Maryland with waterfalls, but this one stands out, thus making it one of the best places to visit during summer. The park is home to Maryland’s highest free-falling waterfall, the Muddy Creek Fall, which freely flows down a rocky mountain into a delineated pool.
The park also has plenty of hiking trails; therefore, this one’s a perfect choice for anyone with a knack for exploring the land on foot. It is generally considered an easy trail and takes about 28 minutes to complete the entire loop. And in the winter, the trails are ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
#7 – Calvert Cliffs State Park
Salamanders, turtles, butterflies, birds, and deer find homes in Calvert Cliff State Park. The park’s cliffs are among the tallest on the East Coast and provide visitors with stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay.
Of all the State Parks in Maryland, the Annapolis sailboat show, one of the largest in-water boat shows in the world, is held here every October. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go rock climbing or rappel on the park’s cliffs.
The park is also home to various fossils, including those of prehistoric sharks, turtles, and crocodiles.
#8 – Greenbrier State Park
Featuring the 42acre artificial freshwater lake, Greenbrier State Park is a serene getaway in Washington County. The lake is stocked with stunning rainbow trout and is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and boating.
There are also plenty of hiking trails that wind through the woods and offer stunning views of the lake. The expansive display of wildflowers and trees makes this nature’ prettiest’ one of the best State Parks in Maryland for camping, bird watching, and simply enjoying the scenery. Set up a gazebo and have a romantic day or night in the park.
#9 – Green Ridge State Park
The site of the former Mertens Apple Orchards, the country’s largest apple orchard, Green Ridge State Park is now a haven for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.
The park’s 80 miles of trails take you through forests, meadows, and streams. If it’s one of your good days, you might even spot a black bear or white-tailed deer. The park also has a 25-mile section of the
Appalachian National Scenic Trail, making it a famous stop-over for the admirers of nature. Hunting is permitted throughout the 49,000 acres of forest.
If you wish to camp, you’ll have to register at the park office first. There are 80 campsites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. Restrooms and showers are also available.
#10 – Sandy Point State Park
Located in Annapolis, Sandy Point State Park is a 786-acre Maryland State Park situated along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. There are a ton of activities to do at this park. It is well known for its beaches and picnic sites for families to enjoy a relaxing time and view of the Chesapeake Bay.
Families can enjoy some fishing, picnics, crabbing, swimming, etc. In addition, they hold special events like Field trips and youth events for kids.
#11 – Janes Island State Park
This state park allows families to experience the Chesapeake Bay and a lot of camping opportunities at the campground that holds about 103 campsites. Janes Island State Park includes 2900-acres of salt marsh and 30 miles of water trails and beaches.
One thing to be prepared for here are the insects, so bring some insect repellants as the insects are a part of the natural environment at this state park. Besides camping, this park offers activities like birding, hunting, fishing, crabbing, motor boating, paddling, and more for families.
Families can enjoy a nice picnic, use the boat ramp and marina or even rent cabins or lodges at this park.
#12 – Tuckahoe State Park
Queen Anne, MD
This park has a 60-acre lake where families can enjoy boating and fishing. Like most state parks, guests can enjoy about 20 miles of trails to go hiking, biking, canoeing, hunting, and picnicking. For the little kids, they have a tire playground where they can have fun if they are not nature lovers.
Tuckahoe State Park also holds events for families like the Tuckahoe state park complex family challenge, where families can enjoy all that the park offers, like the trails, animals, and more. In addition, you can sign them up for day camps and canoe trips if you have little campers.
#13 – Pocomoke River State Park
Snow Hill, MD
Pokomoke River State Park is tucked away on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore and is well known for cypress swamps that border the Pocomoke River. Like many State Parks in Maryland, it flows about 45 miles to the Chesapeake Bay.
It is rich in outdoor activities for families to enjoy. If you have active kids, they can do some fishing, biking, birding, boating, hiking, etc. Guests can also use the cabins, picnic areas and shelters, and swimming pool. There is also a nice playground for kids to have a blast in between enjoying the scenic view of Pocomoke River state park.
There is also a nature center where kids can enjoy the interactive exhibits and learn about reptiles, amphibians, fishes, etc. In addition, schools can plan activities on-site or at school for kids to get hands-on educational experiences.
#14 – South Mountain State Park
Are you looking for a unique experience going down memory lane? At South Mountain State Park, visitors can walk in the steps of the Civil war soldiers of the 1862 battle of south mountain. This park is a 40-mile-long park where guests can also experience the Appalachian National Scenic Trail while enjoying many historical and cultural experiences.
In addition, the park’s 13,000-acre has a variety of wildlife such as whitetail deer, rat snakes, raccoons, and more for kids to explore.
#15 – Elk Neck State Park
North East, MD
Located in Cecil County on a peninsula, Elk Neck State Park has 2,370 acres of land and comprises marshlands, heavily wooded areas, white clay cliffs, and sandy shorelines. It has an area with trails that give a nice view of the Chesapeake Bay, a beach area with a swimming area, canoe/kayak launch, picnic shelters, picnic tables, and grills for families to enjoy the summer fun.
In addition, this park-like offers a unique space where guests can access the Elk River and fishing piers and then a camping area with lots of campsites and cabins, a youth group camping area, a park store, a playground, and a nature center.
#16 – Susquehanna State Park
Havre De Grace, MD
This park has many fishing and boating opportunities for families at the river. You can also find some of the most famous mountain biking trails Maryland offers, which makes it perfect for families and kids to stay active while enjoying other outdoor recreational activities. Like other state parks, Susquehanna state park offers campgrounds with campsites and cabins for families.
#17 – Rocky Gap State Park
Rocky Gap State Park is located in Allegany County and has about 3000 acres of public land. It also has campsites, cabins, boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities.
One great thing about this state park is its programs and activities. They have a program where they partner with local health care professionals to promote a healthy lifestyle through outdoor recreation. This program supports fitness through hiking, canoeing, kayaking, jogging, swimming, etc. They also have a nature center and interpretive activities, including nature hikes, talks, nature crafts, etc.
#18 – Washington Monument State Park
This park is the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington.
While at the Washington monument state park, you can spot some birds, bald eagles, hawks, etc. There is also a picnic area and museums that displays and artifacts about the monument’s history.
If your kids are into camping, you can reserve campsites for youth group outings.
#19 – Gambrill State Park
You can find Gambrill State Park in Frederick county at the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains.
It has about 16 miles of trails that families can use for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Spend a great summer evening enjoying the views of Frederick and the Middletown valleys. You can take a break from hiking by enjoying the High Knob area, which offers wooded picnic areas and shelters that are also available for reservation.
As you can see, State parks in Maryland are genuinely some of the most beautiful and diverse in the country. There are several state parks to explore especially during the summer holiday when the kids are out of school.
Whether you’re looking for a one-in-all place to hike, bike, fish, or just relax, Maryland’s state parks have something for everyone and are diverse in all they offer to ensure everyone has a great experience. All you need is your family, a partner (solo is equally as significant), some good shoes, and a sense of adventure.
Carry your camera or snap away on your phone to capture the memories of a lifetime.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks. Featured Image Credit: [@Jon Bilous/Canva]
Lola is the founder of Deyewa where she helps families discover kid and family-friendly areas in Maryland with printables, tips, guides, and ideas to help families have the best experiences. She is a wife and mom to 3 amazing kids and loves to spend time exploring the world with them. When she is not blogging or at her day job, she enjoys traveling, going to kids' activities, church, and eating out.