12 Amazing Waterfalls in Maryland

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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The mid-Atlantic state of Maryland is known for its coastlines on the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay.

Baltimore – its largest city – has been an important port for many years.

Maryland is also famous for its waterways and, not surprisingly, there are many waterfalls for locals and visitors to enjoy.

Many trails are close to a host of activities, from white water rafting to swimming and kayaking, encouraging an outdoor life.

The waterfalls are spread across the state, although Swallow Falls State Park is probably the best place to go to see them.

There are three there in all, each of which deserve inclusion in the list of 15 amazing waterfalls in Maryland.

1. Falling Branch Falls, Pylesville

Falling Branch Falls, MarylandSource: www.youtube.com
Falling Branch Falls

Sometimes known as Kilgore Falls, Falling Branch has few rivals for free-falling waterfalls in Maryland.

The number of people visiting this lovely spot in Harford County has increased over the years, and in the warm weeks of summer, there can be plenty of people enjoying a swim.

The trail from the car park to the falls is easy and fairly short but there’s a reservation system in place to properly manage traffic at this popular site: read more

2. Cascade Falls, Elkridge

The trail that begins at the Orange Grove Area in Patapsco Valley State Park is a loop of just over two miles.

During the walk, you will see Cascade Falls and the rapids immediately below them.

It is not an exacting walk and is suitable for novices, as long as they take care on the steeper sections.

Bikers may find it difficult and should look elsewhere for cycle trails.

You can park and take your kids – as well as your dog on a leash – along for this pleasant walk that all will enjoy.

3. Cunningham Falls, Thurmont

Cunningham Falls, MarylandSource: Brittany Mason / shutterstock
Cunningham Falls

These falls in Cunningham State Park are the highest cascade of water in the whole of Maryland at 78 feet.

Formerly called McAfee Falls, they were renamed after a photographer who regularly visited to photograph them.

While you’re there, check out the other sites of interest, including an old house above the falls and a natural rock formation known as Dunkard’s Trough, where children were once baptized.

Outdoor activities add to the pleasure of seeing the falls; camping is popular and visitors can swim, boat, hunt or fish.

4. Raven Rock Falls, Parkton

Raven Rock Falls - MarylandSource: George Demetrides / Instagram
Raven Rock Falls – Maryland

This cascade in Gunpowder Falls State Park, Baltimore County, drops up to 25 feet on its journey.

It has been described as a ‘’sliding board’’ style of waterfall, with a slight gradient which actually allows you to climb up the waterfall.

You will still need to take care because the rocks are slippery.

There are some rock pools where the water is a couple of feet deep – very refreshing on a hot day.

The park covers 17,000 acres, largely forest and river valley, with the lovely trail following the Big Gunpowder River until you arrive at the falls.

5. Gunpowder Falls, Baltimore County

Gunpowder RiverSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
Gunpowder River

The two lovely waterfalls – Big and Little Gunpowder Falls – make a compelling reason for visiting Gunpowder Falls State Park.

After all, it is one of the biggest parks in the state.

You can go into the waters but take care because the flow of the water can be deceptively swift.

Other attractions include the extensive trails – well over 100 miles – the Joppa Iron Works that date from the 19th century, and the Jerusalem Mill Village.

It is also a great place for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, and biking.

The marina with its beach is a popular spot on sunny days as well.

6. Paw Paw Falls, Allegany County

There are stories around the Paw Paw Tunnel and the falls of the same name: it is said that they are haunted.

You travel from Oakton via the C&O Canal Trail, walking along a boardwalk through a dark tunnel which has a dank atmosphere.

You can take the kids if you like because the boardwalk is firm and wide.

A flashlight is a good idea.

Once you emerge from the tunnel, there are the falls.

They are rarely especially strong and can be distinctly seasonal but make a good photograph.

7. Amos Falls, Oakwood

Some would say that these are more rapids than waterfalls.

Located near the Conowingo Dam in Cecil County, its construction changed the natural terrain.

Also known as Smyth Falls, they are now part of the manmade structure below the dam on the Susquehanna River.

That river confounded exploration in the 17th century, when John Smith wanted to get upstream but found it impassable.

He talked with the Susquehannock Indians before heading south to what became Jamestown.

It proved a similar obstacle to the British in 1812.

8. Muddy Creek Falls, Oakland

Muddy Creek Falls, OaklandSource: Tom Roche / shutterstock
Muddy Creek Falls, Oakland

At 53 feet high, these impressive falls on the Youghiogheny in Swallow Falls State Park have had many celebrity visitors since the park was established in 1906; Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are just two examples.

Some of the lovely hemlock trees are said to be several hundred years old.

Visitor facilities include a playground and pavilion and several campsites.

It means there is no excuse not to stay for those wanting to spend a few days in the park, hiking, enjoying your mountain bike or simply the surroundings.

9. Swallow Falls, Oakland

Swallow Falls State Park, Oakland, MarylandSource: Tara Ballard / shutterstock
Swallow Falls State Park, Oakland, Maryland

Moving on from Muddy Creek, there are other smaller falls worth a visit.

They justify your camping and exploring more of the Swallow Falls State Park.

Swallow Falls were given their name because of the huge number of swallows that used to nest in the rocks.

It seems increased human activity was the reason the colony has since departed.

The park does not close in the winter and the contrast in the different seasons is marked.

Perhaps you don’t fancy camping in mid-winter though? You can swim in the lake or rent a boat, while the small beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the rays on a sunny day.

10. Tolliver Falls, Swallow Falls State Park, Oakland

Tolliver FallsSource: Kenneth Keifer / shutterstock
Tolliver Falls

Tolliver Falls are the most serene of the waterfalls found in the State Park.

The waterfall can be found just a short walk from the entrance on Herrington Lane.

They are not especially large but sometimes that is not the most important factor.

The canopy of trees over these falls make them the most photogenic of the three on a sunny day.

The color contrast of leaves and rocks in the fall makes that photograph even better.

Incidentally, some of the activities in the park are only available during summer.

11. Great Falls of the Potomac, Montgomery County

Great Falls of the Potomac, MarylandSource: Whiterock Visual / shutterstock
Great Falls Of The Potomac

Great Falls are on the border between Maryland and Virginia in Great Falls Park.

The fast-flowing water of the Potomac River has rapids and a few waterfalls.

The drop over a one-mile stretch totals 76 feet of falls and rapids.

The best views are from the Billy Goat Trail on Bear Island, although you may get a nice photograph from Olmstead Island as well.

It is a great place for a family day out and there are plenty of activities available.

They include white-water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking.

12. Gilpin’s Falls, North East

Gilpin's Falls Covered BridgeSource: Dougtone / Flickr
Gilpin’s Falls Covered Bridge

A good vantage point for these Falls is the Covered Bridge that takes the name of the falls.

It was built in 1860, at a time when the speed of the water created power for local flour mills.

It has survived many a mishap over the years, including a series of major floods in the decades after its completion.

Located in Cecil County, it is now one of the last Covered Bridges left in Maryland and work is done on a regular basis to ensure its maintenance.

You are just three or four feet above the water when you stand on the 120-foot bridge.

12 Amazing Waterfalls in Maryland:

  • Falling Branch Falls, Pylesville
  • Cascade Falls, Elkridge
  • Cunningham Falls, Thurmont
  • Raven Rock Falls, Parkton
  • Gunpowder Falls, Baltimore County
  • Paw Paw Falls, Allegany County
  • Amos Falls, Oakwood
  • Muddy Creek Falls, Oakland
  • Swallow Falls, Oakland
  • Tolliver Falls, Swallow Falls State Park, Oakland
  • Great Falls of the Potomac, Montgomery County
  • Gilpin’s Falls, North East