Top 9 Waterfalls in Maryland

Published on October 20th, 2021

Rich in history and just a hop, skip and a jump from our nation’s capital, most of us know Maryland as a place with many important cultural attractions. But it would be an error to overlook this state’s incredible treasure trove of natural riches, too. Maryland is home to some stunning waterfalls, many of which are preserved by the state in their very own state parks with multiple hiking trails and lots of outdoor recreation opportunities. Without further ado, let’s check them out!

The Top 9 Waterfalls in Maryland

1. Swallow Falls

2. Muddy Creek Falls

3. Toliver Falls

4. Cunningham Falls

5. Falling Branch Falls

6. Gunpowder Falls

7. Raven Rock Falls

8. Cascade Falls

9. Great Falls

Visiting Waterfalls in Maryland

Here are the nine most beautiful waterfalls in Maryland — and the details you need to know to visit them for yourself.

1. Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls at Swallow Falls State Park during Fall evening. Near Deep Creek Lake region, Maryland.

Tucked in the extreme western reaches of the state, near the place where it borders on West Virginia, Swallow Falls is the namesake of the larger Swallow Falls State Park, which features a variety of cascades that tumble along the Youghiogheny River and its smaller tributaries. Although Swallow Falls isn’t the largest waterfall in this park (more on that in just a second), these waterfalls were purportedly named for the large community of swallows that have historically nested here, although the human activity in the area has since chased the largest portion of them off. The water at the foot of this smaller, tamer cascade is perfect for taking a quick dip to shake off some of the hot summer sun, but you can also visit in winter, when everything is covered over with a serene layer of white.

Things to do near Swallow Falls: Swallow Falls State Park is surrounded by a number of small towns with plenty of vacation resources, such as Oakland and Mountain Lake Park. Additionally, this part of Maryland boasts plenty of RVshare rentals — which make it easy to stay and play at Swallow Falls for as long as you like.

2. Muddy Creek Falls

Muddy Falls in Swallow Falls State Park in Oakland, Maryland, the waterfall cascading and flowing down the side of the rocks in the autumn with leaves fallen in the water below.

Swallow Falls might be its namesake, but if there’s one reason people come to Swallow Falls State Park, it’s to see the larger Muddy Creek Falls, which lie along the same waterway just a little bit further north. Accessed by a short and fairly easy trail that meanders through a little more than a mile of beautiful mid-Atlantic foliage, Muddy Creek Falls is an iconic Maryland destination and a great place to bring a picnic for an outdoor lunch. Standing 53 feet tall, Muddy Creek Falls is one of the stateliest and most impressive cascades in the state — or, indeed, anywhere east of the Mississippi River. As such, it’s no surprise they’ve drawn some celebrity visitors, including the likes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.

Things to do near Muddy Creek Falls: Along with its multiple scenic waterfalls, Swallow Falls State Park also offers a bike path, fishing and swimming opportunities, and a well-appointed on-site campground offering limited electric, water, and sewer hookups as well as amenities like bathhouses. Good thing there are so many high quality RVshare rentals in this part of the state to consider for your trip!

3. Toliver Falls

Beautiful Toliver Falls

The last of the falls on our list that lives inside Swallow Falls State Park, Toliver Falls is probably the most often-overlooked cascade for park visitors… which means it’s a great opportunity for those who are on the hunt for a quieter, less-crowded waterfall destination. Tumbling a short but scenic distance along the carved rock face behind them, Toliver Falls can be easily added onto the hike to Swallow Falls, or you can venture to this cascade on its own, just north of the Top Yough Put-in. Because this is a smaller, gentler waterfall, it’s a popular place for park visitors to splash, swim and play.

Things to do near Toliver Falls: We’ll offer one last plug for Swallow Falls State Park, which really is an incredible landscape to play in, be it for a quick day trip or a whole weekend. Additionally, if you grow tired of the park itself, it’s attached to an even larger wilderness area ripe with plenty more outdoor recreation opportunities — Garrett State Forest. Here are the area RVshare rentals that’ll make it easy to stay as long as you like!

4. Cunningham Falls

Waterfall into River

Another unmissable Maryland waterfall destination encompassed by its very own state-managed preserve: Cunningham Falls, which stands inside Cunningham Falls State Park. With its height of 78 feet, Cunningham Falls is the largest cascading waterfall in the state of Maryland, and are said to have been named after a photographer by the name of Cunningham who couldn’t resist coming to the cascade to capture it on film. (You may hear locals referring to it by its older name, McAfee Falls.) The park is also home to a large and placid lake, popular for swimming in during the summer months, as well as unique historic and geological landmarks and formations.

Things to do near Cunningham Falls: Just one part of the larger complex of preserved wilderness spaces in this area, Cunningham Falls State Park is immediately adjacent to such worthy destinations as the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, Cat Rock & Bobs Hill Natural Area and Catoctin Mountain Park. Meanwhile, it’s all just a little more than an hour outside of Baltimore, where there are some excellent RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider for your stay.

5. Falling Branch Falls

Early autumn color at Kilgore Falls, at Rocks State Park, Maryland.

Also known as Kilgore Falls, Falling Branch Falls is situated inside of Rocks State Park, a small but scenic preserve in the northern part of Maryland where the state butts up against Pennsylvania. Falling Branch is the name of the waterway these falls splash along, and although they’re only 20 feet tall, they’re the second-tallest free-falling waterfall in the state (after Muddy Creek Falls, which we’ve mentioned above). The Kilgore Falls Trail meanders just half a mile through a beautiful forest setting before depositing visitors directly in front of the falls themselves, which are certainly a sight worth seeing.

Things to do near Falling Branch Falls: A separate section of Rocks State Park can be found a few miles south of the Falling Branch Falls area, offering a variety of other trailheads, scenic areas, and — as you might have guessed — rock climbing opportunities. There are some excellent RVshare rentals to check out in the area, too, not to mention greater-Baltimore-area RV campgrounds!

6. Gunpowder Falls

Autumn view of the Gunpowder River from Prettyboy Dam, in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Autumn view of the Gunpowder River from Prettyboy Dam, in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Located along the place where the Gunpowder River eventually makes its way out into the larger body of Chesapeake Bay, Gunpowder Falls is tucked inside Gunpowder Falls State Park, which is a commonly visited preserve not just for the cascades, but also for its beaches, picnic spots, fishing and swimming opportunities. In fact, although it’s divided up into several distinct areas, Gunpowder Falls State Park is one of the largest in the state of Maryland — and the falls themselves are separated out into two separate sections, too. There’s Big Gunpowder Falls and Little Gunpowder Falls, both of which can be accessed by a variety of hiking trails, including one that meanders some nine miles through the park. Do be aware you may have to cross the stream en route to the best viewpoints, and at times, these waters can run rapid enough to present some danger.

Things to do near Gunpowder Falls: This large and diverse park spans a large section of land along the northeastern side of Baltimore, and thus is one of the most popular places for city-dwellers to get away from it all. There are also other worthy wildernesses to explore around here, such as Hart-Miller Island State Park; an RVshare vehicle (and a Baltimore-area campground) makes for an excellent home base.

7. Raven Rock Falls

Raven Rock Falls
By Skaterwithaboard – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19821812

While Gunpowder Falls may (obviously) be the best-known set of waterfalls in Gunpowder Falls State Park, it’s not the only one. Raven Rock Falls stands about 25 feet tall and waits deep in the northern Maryland woods of Baltimore County. Offering a kind of sliding cascade, which tumbles in pieces down the beautiful rock backdrop behind it, Raven Rock Falls do vary in flow rate based on the weather the area’s been seeing lately; for best results, visit after there’s been some rain.

Things to do near Raven Rock Falls: Another Gunpowder Falls State Park attraction, Raven Rock Falls is pretty easy to get to from Baltimore — which is lucky to have so many great RVshare rentals and campgrounds to choose from, not to mention all the diversions in the city itself!

8. Cascade Falls

cascade falls maryland
Image via AllTrails

Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful, and certainly one of the most iconic, waterfalls in Maryland, Cascade Falls is tucked into the woods surrounding Elkridge, Maryland, just south of Baltimore. The falls can be accessed along a network of various trails, all of which offer beautiful perspectives on this part of the country and without too much of an uphill climb, though you’ll certainly have a couple of steep sections to contend with. Better yet, the trail is a loop, which makes it a great choice for beginners who may feel some nervousness about the potential of getting lost. (Not to say you can’t get lost on a loop; when you’re in the woods, you should always take precautions. But it certainly stacks the odds in your favor!)

Things to do near Cascade Falls: These falls run along the Patapsco River just south of the Baltimore metro, and are within a 20-minute drive of the heart of the city. Among the many other attractions worth seeking out in Baltimore, we highly recommend the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum and the Walters Art Museum; be sure to check out our entire guide to Baltimore (as well as its many wonderful RVshare rentals and area campgrounds!).

9. Great Falls

View of rapids in the Potomac River at sunset, at Great Falls Park, Virginia.

Just barely within Maryland’s borders, on a sliver of land on what is mostly the Virginia side of the Potomac, Great Falls — also sometimes known as Great Falls of the Potomac — is a long and lovely stretch of cascades and rapids that create a truly stunning scene. Along its 76-foot gradual elevation change, these falls actually undergo nine different sections, which cascade down the river over the course of about a mile. Although the falls themselves are technically in Maryland, Great Falls Park is in Virginia, and offers a plethora of different walking trails to choose from to get many gorgeous vantage points of this large and somewhat leisurely set of cascades.

Things to do near Great Falls: Although easily one of the most beautiful and rugged natural preserves in our country, Great Falls is actually just a hop, skip and a jump from our densely-populated capital city, Washington, D.C. Along with its many important historical destinations, D.C. boasts some of the best museums in not only the country, but the world — and plenty of them are free to enter! Here are some local RVshare vehicles and campgrounds to consider.

Planning an RV Trip to Maryland

From flowing waterfalls to one-of-a-kind cultural destinations and everything in between, there’s no shortage of reasons to take an RV trip to Maryland — and we’ve got all the resources and details you need to do it in comfort and style!

For starters, of course, we’re proud to offer the very best peer-to-peer RV rentals available in the state, and we’ve also whipped up guides to its best state parks and campgrounds. Don’t forget our Travel Local series of city guides, either, which has covered Baltimore! No matter what kind of adventure you’re after, it’s our pleasure to help you find it, and to enjoy every inch of the journey.

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