Here’s a terrific little hike for people of all ages. It packs into a small package some of the outstanding features of hiking the Allegheny Front, including a stretch along one of the eastern United States’s most notable whitewater rivers, the Youghiogheny. There are picnic tables and a pavilion, so a prehike picnic makes for a real kid pleaser. Start off in the cool old-world Hemlock Groves of Swallow Falls State Park in Southern Garrett County www.stateparks.com/swallow_falls_garrett.html.
The trailhead is just beyond the comfort station and kiosk at the north end of the parking area. Traveling southeast (right) from the kiosk, immediately find yourself in a stand of huge, ancient hemlocks and white pines. To protect these 300-year-old trees and their ecosystem, the 40-acre grove is designated a Sensitive Management Area, which means the grove is managed as a wilderness. Trees are allowed to fall or burn as nature wills; only trees blocking trail access are cleared.
Head past the former camping site of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone on this loop trail which passes Muddy Creek Falls the tallest waterfall in Maryland. Hike past large boulders and rock outcroppings enjoying the magnificent beauty of the area. Remember to pack your camera to capture the memories.
Getting there: From Interstate 68, take exit 14A and drive 19 miles south on Maryland Highway 219, passing Deep Creek Lake; turn right onto Mayhew Inn Road. Drive 4.3 miles north, and then turn left onto Sang Run Road. In 0.25 mile, turn right onto Swallow Falls Road (Garrett County 20), which leads west to the park entrance in 4.7 miles.