Maryland is widely known as one of the most beautiful states along the east coast. With this beautiful terrain comes a wide variety of hiking trails throughout the state. Some of these trails are a part of numerous national parks in the state, while others are part of a state or local park.
Of course, it would be impossible to discuss hiking trails without mentioning the great Appalachian Trail. This trail specifically runs along the east coast which allows it to go through Maryland as well.
If you are an avid hiker, planning a getaway to Maryland, or a resident of the state looking to get out of the house, just continue reading for a further discussion of the best hiking trails available within the state.
Can I Hike the Appalachian Trail in Maryland?
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,160-mile-long hiking trail that travels through fourteen different states beginning in either Maine and ending in Georgia. Since this trail follows the Appalachian mountains, Maryland is one of those fourteen states!
According to appalachiantrail.org, 41 miles of the trail cuts through western Maryland and is considered to be some of the gentlest terrains on the entire trail. In addition to the gentle terrain, these miles also contain a few historic landmarks such as the only war correspondents memorial in the United States.
Another cool fact about this opportunity in Maryland is that there are over 10 hiking clubs centered around this specific area of the trail. Therefore if you are new to hiking, or just have more fun hiking with friends, then there are plenty of other people willing to go with you and have a great time!
At the end of the day, you cannot really lose when hiking the Appalachian Trail in any state, but especially in Maryland.
Appalachian Trail in Maryland, by the Numbers
Best National Park Hiking Trails in Maryland
Lets talk about the great hiking within the numerous national parks of Maryland. According to the National Park Service website, there are eighteen national parks within the state of Maryland. However not all are true national parks.
For example, there are two parkways under this designation, as well as the entire town of Baltimore, Maryland. Now even within a major city, you could “hike” around the town. But typically hiking is considered to be walking in the woods. With that being said, there are still options for true hiking out in nature.
Catoctin Mountain is a wilderness recreation area that was actually created as part of FDR’s New Deal programs. Not only is there some nice hiking, but there is also history in the founding of this park.
The park specifically contains over twenty-five miles of hiking trails which are of different difficulties making it an excellent park for all levels of experience. These trails include some outstanding overlooks, and cool camping spots so this park truly provides endless opportunities.
Battlefield of Antietam
If you are also a fan of history, hiking through the battlefield of Antietam would be an excellent fit for you. Although the lengths of the hikes are shorter, you may spend more time hiking than in other parks, due to the endless amount of information to be learned.
For fans of both hiking and history, this national park is highly recommended. Of course, these are not the only two options in the state, but if we were to explain all information about every opportunity available, this article would go on for days.
For more information, simply search national parks in Maryland.
What State Parks are Best for Hiking in Maryland?
There are many state parks and recreational areas within the state. In fact, six out of the top ten trails in Maryland, according to alltrails.com, are either in state parks or recreational land areas. This includes the top two hikes within the entire state.
The number one rated trail in the state is the Annapolis Rock via Appalachian Trail hike within the South Mountain State Park. This is a roundtrip length of 5.1 miles, containing an elevation gain of 816 feet.
Now this trail is certainly built for hikers with some experience, but either way, the views at the end of the hike are certainly worth the journey.
The second-rated hike in the state is the Cascade Falls Loop Trail within the Patapsco Valley State Park. This is a roundtrip length of 2.3 miles, containing an elevation gain of 318 feet.
What gives this trail such a high review is the short length makes it easy for beginners. But also giving hikers a secluded walk through nature with beautiful views of waterfalls.
Another trail is the Sugarloaf Mountain and Northern Peaks Trail. Located near Dickerson, Maryland it is a 5.9-mile loop trail that is heavily trafficked. It features beautiful wildflowers and is rated as moderate.
The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Now these are only three trails, but on the alltrails website, they have 914 trails listed for the state of Maryland.
With a little research, you are certain to find a hike that is perfect for you or your group. Consider the following hikes:
- McKeldin Switchback Trail
- Weverton Cliffs
- King and Queens Chair Loop
- Wolf Rock & Chimney Rock Trail
- Catoctin Mountain Extended Loop Trail
- Swallow Falls Canyon Trail
- Cascade Falls Trail
Bottomline on the Best Hiking in Maryland
There are seriously endless opportunities to hike within the state of Maryland. Whether you are looking for waterfalls, mountain summits, or some history these hiking trails will meet your every wish.
You can even enjoy different looks on trails depending on the season.
For less popular hikes, the state parks or local recreational areas will satisfy this wish.
However, for learning history, the national parks will be a better match.
The Appalachian Trail is a mix of both worlds, with the vastness of the trail there will seem like it is less busy, and due to the length, you are bound to see some historic artifacts. Overall, more details can be found on websites such as alltrails.com, or nps.gov.
“Best Trails in Maryland.” AllTrails.com
“Maryland (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior