Sandy, Tom and I were there with the Boy Scouts in 2000. Although it seems like only yesterday, it was almost 20 years ago! We had a great time playing in the water and it didn’t feel at all crowded. All of us agreed it is one of our favorite state parks. We were hoping to have a similar experience this time and all of us brought clothes for getting wet.
Unfortunately it rained three inches the night before our visit and the water was very high. Consequently, very few people were getting in the water and the trails were extremely crowded. The lower parking lot was completely full and the two upper lots were filling up fast.
One of the lovely things about Swallow Falls State Park is the four waterfalls. Muddy Creek Falls is 53 feet tall and the highest waterfall in Maryland. Upper and Lower Swallow Falls have the largest volume of water and are on the Youghiogheny River. Tolliver Falls is a small, cascading waterfall with a still pool at the bottom. A 1.2 mile trail takes you in a loop along all the falls. There is also an old-growth hemlock forest.
When we were at Swallow Falls State Park in 2000, we spent most of our time playing in the Youghiogheny River. There were deep pools and the boys could jump off tall rocks. The water was low enough that you could sit at the base of Upper Swallow Falls and duck behind the falls.
This visit the water was so high that no one was getting in. The only pool safe enough to enter was Tolliver Falls and there were so many people there that it wasn’t any fun. We hiked the trail, standing to the side waiting for groups to pass a lot. We admired the waterfalls, and then we left. We might have felt that we wasted the $20 ($5 per person) fee, but it was still a gorgeous place for a walk.
Our entrance fee also got us admission to Herrington Manor State Park. This is a neighboring state park on a lake. Lots of people were enjoying the warm day in kayaks, on floats, and at the small beach area. You might think there is a manor house at Herrington Manor, but you would be wrong. There was a manor house, but the state park tore it down in 1986.
Both Herrington Manor and Swallow Falls have overnight camping. Tom and I decided we still love Swallow Falls and will try to get back there in September when children are back in school.