Baltimore, a bustling city in Maryland with the harbor on the Chesapeake Bay, has a hidden secret that many overlook – its proximity to some of the most enchanting waterfalls in Maryland. If city life is starting to feel mundane, rejuvenate yourself with a nature-infused adventure to these exquisite waterfalls near Baltimore, all within an hour’s drive from the city.
Cascade Falls: A Gem in Patapsco Valley State Park
Patapsco Valley State Park, spanning over 30,000 acres across Baltimore and Howard Counties, houses the mesmerizing Cascade Falls. Just a 25-minute drive from Baltimore City, this park offers a fantastic escape into nature. Patapsco Valley State Park, established in 1907, is Maryland’s oldest state park. It was the setting for the state’s earliest mills and factories, the nation’s initial common-carrier railroad and the world’s first underwater hydroelectric installation. Unfortunately, numerous catastrophic floods have caused harm to or damaged many of the valley’s historical buildings and locations. As you traverse the park, be it by foot, bicycle or car, keep a watchful eye out for any ancient buildings, places, and ruins. Wayside interpretive signs are available to guide you and help you uncover the valley’s abundant past, particularly in the Avalon and Orange Grove Areas. Make sure that you bring a map of the park with you while you explore.
The trail leading to the waterfall is short, making it an ideal choice for a quick getaway from the city. The park’s location and the breathtaking view of the Cascade Falls make this site a prime destination for nature lovers in search of Baltimore’s nearby hiking trails with waterfalls.
Gunpowder Falls: A Peaceful Retreat at Gunpowder Falls State Park
A mere half an hour’s drive from Baltimore, Gunpowder Falls State Park is another nature lover’s paradise. Straddling Baltimore County and Harford County, the park is home to Gunpowder River and one of Baltimore’s favorite lazy rivers. At Gunpowder’s popular day-use park, Hammerman, you can find a 1,500 ft. beach and swimming area, along with the Gunpowder River. A variety of activities are available including food concessions, picnic pavilions, tables, playgrounds, canoe/kayak rentals, fishing, and short hiking trails. In addition, the beach, bathhouse, and day-use pavilions are all wheelchair accessible.
The river, coursing through most of the park, gives rise to numerous waterfalls and gentle rapids, providing a perfect backdrop for a peaceful retreat. Whether you’re tubing down the river or enjoying a stroll on solid ground, the park offers stunning views at every turn.
Kilgore Falls: A Natural Wonder at Rocks State Park
Kilgore Falls, located in Rocks State Park, is not just an absolutely gorgeous natural wonder but also a crowd-pleaser during the summer months due to its popularity as a swimming spot. Located a mere five miles from the main area of Rocks State Park, the Falling Branch area is situated on a 67-acre plot of land. This non-developed region is home to the second highest vertical drop waterfall in Maryland – the 17-foot tall Kilgore Falls. Visitors can enjoy the tranquil hiking trail that eventually leads to the waterfall.
The waterfall’s cascade provides a refreshing backdrop, perfect for a relaxing day out. Despite being about 50 minutes away from Baltimore’s city center, the drive is well worth the experience and the relaxation that the park offers.
Great Falls: The Mighty Potomac’s Marvel
Great Falls, where the mighty Potomac River carves its way, is a spectacle to behold. One side of the river is in Maryland, while the other is in Virginia, making it accessible from both states.
The Potomac River’s Great Falls are located 14 miles upstream from Washington, D.C. and span the Maryland and Virginia border. Great Falls Park is situated on the Virginia side and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the Maryland. Both are managed by the National Park Service with scenic views available from either side. Visitors can explore the Billy Goat Trail and Olmsted Island in Maryland as well as multiple overlook points in Virginia.
Though the drive from Baltimore takes about an hour, the sight of the roaring rapids, particularly after a heavy rainfall, is awe-inspiring. This spot is one of the most picturesque locations in both Maryland and Virginia.
Cunningham Falls: A Majestic Sight at Cunningham Falls State Park
Located a little over an hour away from Baltimore, Cunningham Falls State Park is home to Maryland’s highest cascading waterfall and a beautiful beach. The waterfall provides a tranquil spot to sit and watch the water rush past, making it an idyllic place for a picnic. Located in the Catoctin Mountains, Cunningham Falls State Park is comprised of two parts. The William Houck Area is situated three miles west of Thurmont on Route 77 and offers visitors the opportunity to engage in activities such as swimming, hiking, fishing, and canoeing, with campgrounds and camper cabins available from April to October. The Manor Area, three miles south of Thurmont on Route 15, contains the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping spots, and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife and plant species, adding to its natural charm and making it one of the best Baltimore waterfalls to visit.
More Waterfalls Near Baltimore to Explore
While these five waterfalls near Baltimore are easily accessible, Maryland has a plethora of other waterfalls waiting to be explored. So, why wait? Go ahead and plan your next nature-infused adventure.
What Others Say About Hiking Waterfalls Near Baltimore
A recent review from a hiker in Baltimore stated:
“My friend and I have been searching for some nearby hiking trails recently. This is the perfect spot. It is a very remote area, and even when there were other groups around, it felt like we were the only ones there. The Cascade Trail will take you back through different levels of a waterfall that are easy to hike to see. I would highly recommend stopping here!”
Exploring Parks Near Baltimore
Baltimore’s surrounding areas are also home to some stunning parks. Matthew Henson State Park, with its unique raised boardwalks, and Point Lookout State Park, with its historic prison tours, are just a few examples.
Day Trips Around Baltimore
Baltimore’s surroundings also offer several engaging day trip options. For instance, the Harriet Tubman Byway provides an educational and interesting journey through multiple stops on the Underground Railroad.