National Take A Hike Day is celebrated on November 17th and is the perfect time to explore the diverse terrain Maryland has to offer for hiking and nature enthusiasts alike. From a casual stroll along the Chesapeake Bay waterfront, to the state’s tallest cascading waterfall, there’s something for every person, and every comfort level!
Check out our list of top hiking spots in Maryland, and be sure to hit these spots as soon as possible for peak fall weather and colorful foliage.
First stop on our Maryland hiking tour brings us to the well known Billy Goat Trail. Located near Great Falls in Montgomery County, this trail is a 4.7 mile hiking trail that follows a path between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. This trail has multiple sections that are perfect for novice hikers looking to gain experience and more seasoned hikers looking for a challenge. Be cautious as you set out on this adventure as some parts of the trail can become rocky and difficult to navigate.
Next up, the Ben Cardin C&D Canal Trail located in Chesapeake City (Cecil County) is a 6.1 mile trail that runs parallel to the Chesapeake Bay waterfront and north bank of the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal. The paved pathway is perfect for hiking, biking, walking or running. The trailhead to this waterfront site sits at North Chesapeake City’s Lock Street, adjacent to the town Ferry Dock.
Be sure to also experience the Western Maryland Rail Trail, a 28 mile long trek located between Washington and Allegany Counties. The trail parallels the C&O Canal Towpath for its entire length and is a paved, linear trail, perfect for anyone looking for a pleasant and leisurely hike. This trail is ideal for families or persons with limited mobility and is wheelchair accessible. Cyclists love this trail as well! Also, The C&O Canal Towpath is 184.5 miles long, and stretches from Georgetown to Cumberland - there are many beautiful sections to hike, all along the Potomac River!
If you’re in the Frederick County area, Cunningham Falls State Park has a plethora of trails with varying terrain and difficulty levels perfect for hikers, walkers and even climbers of any skill level. This state park is also home to Maryland's tallest cascading waterfall, Cunningham Falls, and is right nextdoor to Catoctin Mountain Park, making this the perfect place for a day trip or even a camping trip for those looking for a little more adventure.
From the Mason Dixon Line to the Potomac River, all along South Mountain between Washington and Frederick Counties, the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail presents many amazing views, and surprises. The Maryland length is about 40 miles long, to learn more click here.
Next, take a hike out to Calvert Cliffs State Park. Located in Calvert County, the massive cliffs that line the Chesapeake Bay are from which this park gets its name. Prehistorically dated, these cliffs reveal the remains of many prehistoric species, including sharks! This is the perfect spot for a casual hike or stroll along the cliffs and the bay. Make sure to keep an eye out for hidden shark teeth and fossils nestled along the beach!
If you feel like taking a hike along some history, check out the Torrey C Brown Trail. Also referred to as the Northern Central Railway (NCR) Trail, this trail spans the remnants of the historic Northern Central Railway in Northern Baltimore County. The trail stretches 20 miles and is flat and wide, great for hikers, walkers and bikers of any skill level. The trail also passes through Gunpowder Falls State Park, the perfect spot for exploring all the natural beauty and forest critters of this state park!
Heading out to Harford County? Take a trip over to Rocks State Park and hike along one of the many trails this pristine park has to offer. The main section of the park includes three picnic areas, 3.5 miles of hiking trails and access to Deer Creek, climb to the top of the Rock Ridge area and sit in the king and queen seat that overlooks Deer Creek. While you’re there head to the Falling Branch area of the park and check out Kilgore Falls, Maryland's second highest vertical drop waterfall.
If you find yourself on the Eastern Shore, swing by Talbot County’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is home to an amazing amount of plant and animal diversity, containing one-third of Maryland's tidal wetlands and was originally established as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. This spot is perfect for hiking, boating, fishing, or even just a quick visit to take in the local wildlife. Plan your visit today!
You can find information about these Maryland hiking trails and more on Visit Maryland or cruise over to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a full list of Maryland State Parks, hiking trail maps, and more! Go take a hike!