Autumn Glory in Swallow Falls State Park

“Autumn burned brightly, a running
flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees”
 ~ Faith Baldwin, American Family

We went on a weekend getaway in search of some romance, my husband and I. And in search of autumn’s exquisite show. And maybe along the way, we’d visit some places we’d never been to before. After visiting Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive (in the rain and fog), we’d headed up to Oakland, MD to Swallow Falls State Park, in search of autumn glory.

Swallow Falls State Park is located on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River, not far from Oakland, and is considered one of the best places to go leaf peeping in early October. The park features Maryland’s highest free falling waterfall, Muddy Creek Falls, as well as smaller waterfalls on the Youghiogheny River and Tolivar Creek. The park is also worth visiting to enjoy its stand of old hemlock trees, some more than 300 years old, one of the few remaining stands remaining in Maryland.

Muddy Creek is a crashing 53-foot waterfall. Tall hemlocks dominate the woods that the Canyon Creek Trail travels through. The 1 1/4-mile long trail guides hikers to some of the most breathtaking scenery in western Maryland.

We went where the more famous and noteworthy have trod before. This breathtaking scenery attracted Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone in the summer of 1921. Calling themselves “the Vagabonds,” these three wealthy captains of industry camped at the top of Muddy Creek Falls. Although they are remembered as industrialists rather than for their interest in the outdoors, Ford himself often insisted that he was in reality just “a very simple man, a man of nature” who was an avid bird watcher and amateur astronomer.

Their heavy camp kitchen truck caved in a bridge on the road coming into the campsite — so you know it wasn’t hardship camping! But as a result, the crowds that tended to gather around these famous men couldn’t visit them, allowing them the seclusion they sought.

They set up their tents and cots just in time for darkness, ate a modest meal from tin cans, and then turned in, tired from a long day of travel. The three men were in great spirits. That first morning, they stared at the falls for hours, sitting in canvas-backed lawn chairs, sharing humorous stories from their childhoods, lulled by the roar of the nearby falls.

At Muddy Creek Falls that summer, they were more concerned with connecting with nature than in their inventions and industry. The direct contact with nature they were seeking reinvigorated them — as it can all of us who seek the beauty and wonder of the autumn season and the awesome falls.

My husband and I not only reconnected with nature along this beautiful little hike, but we started reconnecting with each other, another step on a continuous journey together.

Getting there: 222 Herrington Ln, Oakland, MD 21550

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Dogs: Perfect for your pooch!!


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