Western Maryland’s many trails, campsites, lakes, and parks make it a great place for exploring the great outdoors. Campers have plenty of opportunities to hike, swim, fish, and bike at these eight places.
Deep Creek Lake State Park
You can find inexpensive lodging around Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
, but if you want to be right on the water, check out Deep Creek Lake State Park. The campground is open from mid-April to mid-December, and has 112 campsites and 26 electric sites. If you plan on visiting during the summer, make sure to book a reservation in advance. The beach and lake are the main attraction at the park, but you can also check out the Discovery Center with exhibits about the nature and history of the area and a small interpretive trail, or go on a tour that takes you to a firetower with spectacular views.
Green Ridge State Forest
The Green Ridge State Forest
has a number of campsites along the Potomac river if you’re paddling in the area. There are also 100 primitive campsites in the forest, but you must register with the main office if you want to stay at any of these sites. These are the perfect places to stay overnight while hiking any of the 50 miles (80.5 km) of trails the forest offers. The highlight of the forest is the Paw Paw Tunnel which, at over 3,000 feet long, is one of the longest hiking / biking tunnels in the world. At the northern end of the forest, the town of Little Orleans has a campground and restaurant if you need a little more civilization.
Rocky Gap State Park
Rocky Gap State Park is just west of Green Ridge State Forest. If camping isn’t your thing, you can have a luxury experience by staying at the hotel, but then you would miss the awesome views from the lakeside campground. And even if you can’t book these premium spots, you’re sure to find a space at one of the 278 campsites in the park. Make a point to hike the 5.3 mile (8.5 km) trail around Lake Habeeb, and check out the Touch of Nature trail and Nature Center too.
Savage River State Forest
Savage River State Forest, just east of Deep Creek Lake, is the largest designated forest in the state. The 54,000 acres (218.5 km2) are the perfect place to enjoy every season outdoors, from hiking, biking
, cross-country skiing, canoeing, and off-roading. For day visitors, the park is open from sunrise to sunset, but you can stay overnight at one of the 50 primitive campsites within the forest, or you can also back-country camp along the trails. If you are spending the night, you must register at the forest headquarters, and pay for a permit if you are back-country camping.
Huckleberry Hill Campground
While the C&O Canal National Historic Park has many campsites alongside the Potomac river and hiking / biking trail, one definitely worth visiting is the Huckleberry Hill campsite near Harpers Ferry
. This is designated as a hiker / biker campsite, which means that the stay is free but limited to one night, with a maximum of two tents and eight people per campsite. While camping here, you can hike up to Maryland Heights for a spectacular view of the town and Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converging or visit the historic sites.
Swallow Falls State Park
Even if you choose not to camp at Swallow Falls, it’s a wonderful park to visit. The falls on the the Youghiogheny River and Muddy Creek are the main attractions, but make sure to take in the scenery of Youghiogheny Grove, a stand of virgin Hemlock and White Pine trees that are estimated to be more than 300 years old. The campground has 65 wooded sites that are close to a bathhouse with hot and cold water, and three of the sites have electrical hookups.
Garrett State Forest
Located as far west as you can go in Maryland, the Garrett State Forest was established in 1906 as the first managed forest in the state. Today, the forest is an expansive 7,000 acres (28 km2) and offers three options for camping: designated camping areas with multiple sites, primitive camping sites located along the road, and back-country camping. The forest is a hiker’s paradise, with lots of trails to choose from that highlight the diversity of an eastern hardwood forest, and has easy access to Herrington Manor State Park and Swallow Falls State Park.
Big Run State Park
If you’re looking for camping that is a little more rustic, check out Big Run State Park. The small park has 29 campsites that are available year-round, but the park doesn’t have drinking water or showers available. The park is at the north end of the Savage River reservoir, and you can enjoy boating and fishing on the water. The campground also has direct access to the Monroe Run Trail, which extends five miles in the park to the Monroe Run scenic overlook.