Climbing & Hiking Trails - 17 min read

20 Best Hiking Trails in Maryland (Scenic Views & Dog-Friendly)

Kimberly Anne

Kimberly Anne, Updated September 27, 2022

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Maryland is one of the country’s most vibrant melting pots, with several of its cities ranking among the most multicultural in the country. Marylanders benefit from the amazing cultural experiences and new views that a varied community offers. Additionally, minorities and women enjoy unrivaled business opportunities here.

Because Maryland has such stunning scenery, you can go trekking almost anywhere. For instance, parks, hills, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, forest views near the ocean, and more are all part of the varied scenery. You won’t be able to decide from all the possibilities to explore a wide range of hiking and nature trails. 

With trails that range from coastal to woodland, steep to flat, Maryland offers one of the best trail systems in the country. Similarly, there are short, simple trails for people looking for a quick stroll to enjoy some fresh air, as well as longer, more strenuous mountain trails with epic views.

1. Avalon Loop Trail

Credit: Nicolas Raymond / Flickr

The Avalon Loop Trail is tranquil and bursting with beautiful scenery. For instance, on this breathtaking path in Maryland, you will have the opportunity to explore historic mansions, waterfalls, and ruins.

Paved sections of this path have been given as an accommodation for the comfort of certain pedestrians. In addition, there are a lot of people walking and cycling on this trail, so make sure to say hello to the other people you see.

Due to the length of this excursion, it is imperative that you carry everything that you would require for a day hike. As a result, this path may branch off into a number of distinct trails at some point. The visitor center at Patapsco Valley State Park offers visitors the opportunity to pick up trail maps for the park.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.6 Miles
Elevation: 26 ft.

2. Annapolis Rock (Appalachian Trail)

Credit: Pedro Hoehl / Flickr

Annapolis Rock is a well-known section of the Appalachian Trail. In addition, this trail is one of the best nature trails in Maryland. As a result, there will undoubtedly be many other hikers when the weather is great.

Consequently, weekends are extremely busy considering it is one of the most well-liked nature trails in the state of Maryland.  Hike the trail first thing in the morning or during the workweek if you prefer to hike alone.

Rock climbers and campers will both enjoy Annapolis Rock. Within Greenbrier State Park, there are four distinct campgrounds close by.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5 Miles
Elevation: 840 ft.

3. Wolf Rock/Chimney Rock Loop Trail

Credit: Nancy Stanley / Flickr

The Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock Loop is one of our go-to trails in Maryland. This challenging ascent is in Catoctin Mountain Park, which is located in Thurmont, Maryland.

Even though there won’t be nearly as much foot traffic on this journey, the parking lots at the visitor’s center might fill up very rapidly. During the most popular time of year for hiking, spring, and fall, for example, there will be crowds.

Get a head start, and you’ll be just fine on this scenic route. Likewise, the views from both Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock are breathtaking.

The adventure will be considerably more pleasurable for you if you love climbing around on enormous boulders as you make your way down the trail.

It takes a typical hiker about two hours to finish the trail. This makes the hike incredibly moderate. Above all, one of the best features of this trail is that you can hike here all year round.

Unfortunately, your canine companions will have to stay at home. Dogs are not permitted on this hiking path.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.4 Miles
Elevation:  823 ft.

4. Swallow Falls State Park – Swallow Falls Canyon Trail


One of the most beautiful hikes in Maryland is along the Swallow Falls Canyon Trail. Hikers using the 1.5-mile Canyon Loop Trail close to the Youghiogheny River pass by the tallest waterfall in Maryland.

Additionally, you can enjoy Muddy Creek Falls, Swallow Falls, and picturesque Swallow Falls here. The waterfalls in this State Park are full of hiking paths.

Along the walk, wild rhododendron and mountain laurel are frequently encountered growing on rock outcroppings. There is also a wheelchair-accessible trail to Muddy Creek Falls.

The often-busy park paths have less populated paths that can be reached by detour at Tolliver Falls. Consequently, Swallow Falls Canyon Trail is regarded to be an easy hike. It’s possible to finish this trail in under 30 minutes.

The path may be hiked at any time of the year because it is accessible throughout the year. Your canine companions will have to stay at home, as they are not permitted on this hiking path.

During the period beginning the Saturday before Memorial Day and ending the Saturday after Labor Day, this park does not permit the presence of pets. During the remaining months of the year, pets are permitted.

There is a fee for this canyon trail. Residents of Maryland pay $3, while tourists from other states pay $5. The popular trail is open every day from 8 AM – Sunset.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.1 Miles
Elevation: 137 ft.

5. Catoctin Mountain Extended Trail Loop


North-central Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain Park is a portion of the forest-covered Catoctin Mountain Ridge Range. This forested area serves as the Appalachian Mountain System’s northeastern rampart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This trail is challenging, but it is well worth the effort. Catoctin Mountain Extended Trail takes you through some of the most breathtaking natural places in Maryland.

Loop your way through Catoctin Mountain Park Extended Trail which is 8.6 miles long. Picturesque and pristine, the trail is enjoyable for trail runners and hikers alike.

The Cunningham Falls, Hog Rock, Blue Ridge Summit, Thurmont Vista, Wolf Rock, and Chimney Rock trails make up the largest loop in the park. All of these natural features are a part of the extended trail loop.

The majority of the trail is composed of rocks. Finding stable footing is a little more challenging. As a result, the trail has a moderate degree of difficulty. The trailhead is located at the Catoctin Mountain Visitor’s Center, which is located off of Foxville Road. Parking is available there.

The good news is that dogs are allowed on this trail. From March until November, hikers and their canine companions are welcome on this walk.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 9.9 Miles
Elevation: 1738 ft.

6. Sugarloaf Mountain Northern Peaks Trail

Credit: Sy Tan / Flickr

Excellent views of the Maryland countryside are enjoyed on a trip up Sugarloaf Mountain. The area’s handy network of paths and gorgeous trails makes for both short and lengthy excursions.

It takes an average of 3 hours, and 43 minutes to accomplish the course. Sugarloaf Mountain Northern Peaks Trail is fairly difficult. Since trail running and hiking are popular activities here, you will run across other individuals while exploring.

Likewise, the route is lovely to explore at any time of the year and is open all year round. Dogs are permitted as long as they are on a leash.

The Sugarloaf Mountain and Northern Peaks Trail have a high elevation, in the beginning, an even gradient in the middle, and a severe climb at the end. As a result, wearing appropriate footwear is essential. The majority of the trail is rough or irregular with tree roots.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 7.4 Miles
Elevation: 1519 ft.

7. Rocks State Park – Kings and Queens Loop Trail

Rocks State Park is located in the more rural part of northern Harford County. Home of the famous Kings and Queens Loop Trail, the park contains 855 acres of rocky forest area.

The primary component of the park is three picnic spots and 3.5 miles of hiking trails. It is also accessible to Deer Creek. Further, at the end of your hike, there will be excellent opportunities for fishing, wading, and tubing.

Tourist attractions King and Queen’s Seat, as well as Kilgore Falls, are among the most popular things to see and do in Rocks State Park.

Before attempting to scale the King and Queen Seat, novice climbers are strongly advised to first receive instruction from a qualified guide. There are climbs ranging from 8 to 115 feet in height.

The Rocks of Deer Creek, written by Thomas Wysong in 1880, was a collection of short stories that featured a variety of myths and legends about the Rocks State Park and the King and Queen Seat.

In short, this book was one of the factors that contributed to the influx of trainloads of tourists in the late 1800s.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.2 Miles
Elevation: 682 ft.

8. Loch Raven Reservoir


Picturesque miles of nature trails wind their way along the banks of the Loch Raven Reservoir. Therefore, making it one of the most fascinating outdoor locations in the Baltimore, Maryland metro area.

Considering its convenient location, this is just one reason why the Loch Raven Reservoir is so loved. It is certainly most idyllic – especially in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Hikers and cyclists have a good chance of spotting a wide variety of birds. Therefore, ravens, bluejays, woodpeckers, bald eagles, and cardinals appear on the trail. Hikers will come across a lush and diverse assortment of plants and trees. Additionally, wild roses, beech trees, raspberries, maple, and oak trees are among the most spotted plants.

Loch Raven Reservoir is the ideal fit for your hiking or mountain biking disposition. In conclusion, there are several trails that range in length, difficulty, and level of difficulty.

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Distance: 0.9-9.7-miles
Elevation: up to 1033 ft.

9. Cascade Falls Loop Trail


Cascade Falls Circular is a pleasant 2-plus mile loop trek. With little elevation gain, it is a great way to stretch your legs before the day begins! The website of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources contains maps of the nearby trails.

The paths are color-coded, and periodically you can identify which route you are on by spotting a little colored rectangle on a tree.

A simple stroll through Patapsco Valley State Park leads to a number of waterfalls and places to swim and cool down in the water. Everyone in the family will enjoy this hike to its fullest.

If you want to get away from the urban atmosphere of Baltimore and into the forest, then this hike is an excellent option. There are miles of paths to explore nearby, or you can just relax by the river by finding a beautiful area.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.3-miles
Elevation: 318 ft.

10. Billy Goat Trail – Section C Trail


The Billy Goat Trail is split into three sections that cross multiple states. Billy Goat Trail, which gets its name from the fact that there is some scrambling involved along the trail, is located in Maryland. Section C runs parallel to the Potomac River.

A, B, and C, lead more daring hikers along, up, and over the rocks lining the Potomac River at Great Falls. In short, since the 1800s, hikers have favored the views along Billy Goat Trail.

The easiest of the three sections is Section C. Only a 1.7-mile circle and 167 ft. gain, this trail is moderately difficult.

A tiny waterfall and magnificent views of the Potomac River are popular on this trail. Both the spring blooms and the fall colors make it lovely any time of the year.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.7 Miles
Elevation: 167 ft.

11. Green Ridge State Forest

Credit: kkthemook / Flickr

Green Ridge State Forest is located in Western Maryland. Its area is estimated to be over 46,000 acres. In Green Ridge State Forest, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, and bicycling, as well as camping, which is all permitted.

Over 50 miles of hiking trails are paved within the Green Ridge State Forest. In other words, some nature trails are suitable for day walks and others for multi-day backpacking trips. Green Ridge is rich in both natural and cultural heritage.

Difficulty: Easy-Challenging
Distance: Varies
Elevation: 613 to 1,889 ft.

12. Elk Neck State Park – Elk Neck State Forest Trails


Brimming with forest-filled trails, this state park is a jewel in the state of Maryland that actually has everything to offer, including woods, beaches, marshlands, fishing, a nature center, a playground, and many other amenities.

Elk Neck State Park features four kid-friendly and easy-to-navigate hiking routes that are perfect for the whole family. In addition to providing opportunities for leisure on land and on water, the state park is home to the historic Turkey Point Light.

The lighthouse is at the furthest southern point of the park. Along your way, you will see a stunning sight when checking out the lighthouse against the backdrop of the Chesapeake Bay.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.6 miles
Elevation: 479 ft.

13. Gunpowder Falls State Park – Loop Trail


Gunpowder Falls State Park is a public leisure area that consists of six separate regions totaling a total of 18,000 acres. Therefore, there are plenty of trails and forests to choose from. We recommend the Loop Trail due to its simple path.

Rocky slopes and tidal areas make up some of the scenery in this park. Gunpowder boasts over 120 miles of multi-use trails, protected state wildlands, historic sites, chances for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing, as well as a swimming beach and marina.

Gunpowder Falls State Park, which was created in 1959 and is now one of the biggest state parks in Maryland, protects the Gunpowder River, as well as the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.3 Miles
Elevation: 259 ft.

14. Goat and Canal to Great Falls Overlook Loop

Credit: Mr.TinMD / Flickr

Explore this easy loop trail that is 5.8 miles long and is located close to Potomac, Maryland. State historians say the first known Algonquin site in Maryland was Potomac. It is estimated that people lived there between the years 1200 and 1500 A.D.

Goat and Canal have a great history and natural beauty. It takes hikers a little less than two hours to complete the trail. Therefore, it is rated as having a moderate level of difficulty.

Because this is such a popular location for walking, trail running, and hiking, you will encounter crowds while you are out exploring. Your furry friends will have to stay at home, as they are not permitted on this hiking path.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 5.8 miles
Elevation: 216 ft.

15. Centennial Lake Park Loop

Credit: James Mann / Flickr

Centennial Lake Park Loop is a path that spans a distance of 2.5 miles around a majestic lake. This trail is simple and most hikers and trail-goers complete the simple loop path in a little less than one hour.

Due to the fact that this is a very popular site for bird watching, fishing, and hiking, you will most likely stumble into other people while you are out exploring.

The path is great to stroll along at any time of year and may be accessed at any point during the year. Bring your pup out on this beautiful lake trail to explore and play. Don’t forget to bring a leash.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Elevation: 95 ft.

16. Deep Creek Lake State Park – Beckman’s Trail

Credit: webb.heather / Flickr

The Deep Creek Lake State Park is a public recreation area that is located on the northeast side of Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland.

Start your adventure on Beckman’s Trail. It is 5.0 miles long total and is located close to Swanton, Maryland. In most cases, it is a straightforward path. This trail is usually completed within two hours for the average hiker.

Beckman’s Trail and Deep Creek Lake State Park are popular areas for activities like bird watching, camping, and cross-country skiing. However, you may still find some peace and quiet along it during the less busy parts of the day.

The hiking track is accessible at any time of the year and is lovely to stroll along in spring, summer, or fall. Dogs are allowed, however, they have to be kept on a leash at all times.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 5.0 miles
Elevation: 590 ft.

17. Great Allegheny Passage: Frostburg to Cumberland


Between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Cumberland, Maryland lies the Great Allegheny Passage. Allegheny is an old rail trail that spans 150 miles in total. We recommend Frostburg to Cumberland (only 16.2 miles in total). Explore this point-to-point trail located near Frostburg, Maryland.

As a result of its length, it takes an average of 5 hours and 23 minutes to complete the trail. Most hikers rate the Frostburg to Cumberland trail as having a moderate level of difficulty.

This track is most enjoyable to hike between the months of April and October. Bring your canine companions on this trail. Don’t let them off of the leash unless signs permit.

If you want to witness the steam engine from the turn of the century climbing the hill towards Frostburg, you should be on the route when the train is running on weekends. The trail is well-kept and runs beside the train track in a parallel fashion.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 16.2 miles
Elevation: 118 ft.

18. Forte Foote Park: Civil War Ruins Trail

Credit: National Park Service

Forte Foote was a military fort that was in use from 1863 until 1878. Made of wood and earth, this fort; now turned hiking trail, was constructed during the American Civil War.

President Abraham Lincoln visited Fort Foote in 1863 to see this cutting-edge military equipment. You can walk the same flat hiking trails Lincoln did at Fort Foote and perform your own inspection.

1.8-miles Forte Foote’s circular trail is accessible from Fort Washington, Maryland. It usually takes 45 minutes to finish and is a pretty easy hike. It is common to find bird watchers and hikers along this trail.

Forte Foote Park however does experience some downtime occasionally. The months of April through October are ideal for hiking this trek. This hike is also great for your canine friends to enjoy.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 229 ft.

19. Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail

Credit: Angel Beil / Flickr

In 1871, this defunct railway was once envisioned to be a part of the Southern Maryland Railway. Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail is family-friendly. This path does not present any difficulties for individuals with strollers, wheelchairs, or other mobility devices.

Additionally, The Chesapeake Railway trail is nearly two miles long and provides views of Fishing Creek as well as other types of animals. Enjoy the journey through nature as you pass by the numerous species of songbirds and other animals that make their home along the canal.

As a result, the Chesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society has set up informational displays at various points along the walk (CBOCS).

In addition to erecting osprey platforms, instructional gardens, bat boxes, and purple martin homes, CBOCS has also erected educational gardens. However, don’t fear the wildlife. The instructional gardens additionally teach how to prevent mosquito bites.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation: 13 ft.

20. Oregon Ridge Nature Center and Park – Loggers and Lake Trail Loop

Credit: Steven Mitchell / AllTrails

Explore this loop trail that is 2.3 miles long and is located close to Cockeysville, Maryland. Loggers and Lake Trail Loop is an easy and fun trail for hikers of all ages. Oregon Ridge Nature Center is one of Maryland’s favorites.

Likewise, the nature center is fun for the family to explore after finishing the trail. Hikers suggest the Loggers and Lake Trail take a little less than one hour to complete.

However, due to the fact that this is such a popular location for hiking, you will come across other people while you are out exploring.

This track is most enjoyable to hike between the months of March and November. On this trail, you can bring your dogs too. Just don’t forget the leash.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 282 ft.

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