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Get Outside with This Nature-Filled Adventure in Western Maryland

Get Outside with This Nature-Filled Adventure in Western Maryland

Rocky Gap State Park


Pack your swimsuit, water bottle, and hiking boots for a westward weekend of exploration.


Start: Middletown

Finish: Oakland

Distance: 2 days, 4 stops, 142 miles


Catoctin Creek Nature Center
Photo Credit: Catoctin Creek Nature Center

Catoctin Creek Park & Nature Center

2929 Sumantown Rd, Middletown, MD 21769

Let’s start this adventure at Catoctin Creek Nature Center. This nature center features large observation windows providing visitors with stunning views. You’ll find a sizable play area with toys, plus several reptiles and amphibians to admire. Kids will love the indoor rock pond dedicated to several native turtles. Take a walk following one of the several trails around the property and bring your swimsuits for a cool dip in Catoctin Creek on a hot day.

We’ve got more nature centers and swimming hole recommendations to fill your summer with endless outdoor fun.


Photo Credit: Colleen O’Neill Mulvihill

Western Maryland Rail Trail

273 MD-144, Hancock, MD 21750

The Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) is an asphalt-paved pathway stretching 27.5 miles from Big Pool to Little Orleans, and the itinerary stops along the trail in Hancock near the halfway point. The WMRT is perfect for walking, rollerblading, or bicycling. Need to rent bikes? C&O Bicycles is a mile down the path with hourly rentals. Then traverse down the trail to encounter miles of rolling farm fields on the outskirts of quaint towns.

Head east on the trail to find  Buddy Lou’s Antique Shop and Restaurant. Stay the night in Hancock at 1828 Trail Inn Bed and Breakfast, situated for easy access to the trail.


Rocky Gap
Photo Credit: Chris Vandergrift

Rocky Gap State Park

17400 Camper Hill Drive, Flintstone, MD 21530

Continue your Western Maryland journey to Rocky Gap State Park, named for the wide gorge running through a rugged hemlock forest. This 3,000-acre mountain oasis includes sparkling Lake Habeeb, a recreational hub for nature lovers perfect for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and boating. Hike the 5.3-mile Lakeside Loop Trail, which offers stunning lake views. Beyond traditional campsites on the spacious grounds, you can choose the glamping route or stay at the resort.

Plan ahead to reserve a campsite to extend your stay. This destination could fill your weekend alone.


Rockmaze in Garret State Park
Photo Credit: Christine Rai

Garrett State Forest

1431 Potomac Camp Rd, Oakland, MD 21550

Park in the small lot on Snaggy Mountain Road to discover this woodland find unlike any other. The Garrett State Forest rock “maze” resembles a cluster of boulders “dumped” in the center of a peaceful forest. While reached via an easy hike, the stunning rock formations are not that simple to find. The Rock Maze Trail is 0.8 miles of gentle hiking terrain, making it a quick adventure for all ages. Once discovered, this dreamlike maze will be a hit with the whole family.

Find more activities, food, and unique shopping opportunities in this area with “Four Days of Family Adventure in Western Maryland.”

Lead Photo: Sieff Studios

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