>Summer's near, parks beckon

>With Memorial Day approaching, summer is almost upon us – a great time to get outdoors and explore some of the many parks around us.

What are your favorite places for hiking, picnicking and enjoying the outdoors? One of mine is Swallow Falls State Park, boasting some of the most gorgeous scenery in Maryland.

Near Oakland in Garrett County, it’s a 3 1/2 hour drive from Baltimore, a bit beyond Deep Creek Lake, but worth it. It’s an awesome place of rushing mountain streams, majestic forest and roaring waterfalls. Muddy Creek Falls, seen above in a short video I shot recently, is the state’s highest free-falling waterfall, with a 53-foot drop.

Swallow Falls also harbors the state’s largest remaining stand of Eastern hemlocks, towering evergreens that once covered much more of the landscape. A 40-acre patch of hemlocks there somehow escaped the logger’s saws, making it one of just a handfull of old-growth forests in Maryland. You can also hike along scenic and wild Youghiogheny River.

Read the full article here.

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