Swallow Falls State Park
2470 Maple Glade Road, Oakland, MD 21550 (301) 387-6938
Swallow Falls State Park is located in the mountains nine miles north of Oakland, Maryland and contains some of Maryland’s most picturesque scenery. The park features three of Maryland’s most spectacular waterfalls along a 1 ¼-mile trail through old-growth hemlock forest – the last large hemlock forest in the State. The Youghiogheny River and several of its tributaries converge in the park. At nearly 60 feet tall, Muddy Creek Falls, a highlight on the park’s main trail, is Maryland’s tallest free-falling waterfall. The park’s rivers and streams pass through shaded rocky gorges and feature rippling rapids and white water. With 257 acres, the park is compact enough to allow thorough birding coverage, but be aware that some of the trails are hilly and can be muddy and slippery after rain. The park also features camping, fishing, and picnic areas. The trails at Swallow Falls weave through a 40-acre grove of old-growth hemlocks. Managed as a sensitive area, the dense woodlands in the park provide ample cover for forest interior birds like Blue-headed Vireos, Hermit and Wood Thrushes and various warblers. Because of the parks’s habitats and location in the mountains, the breeding birds at Swallow Falls include many that are known only as winter visitors or migrants in other parts of the state. The list of breeding warblers is especially impressive (see below). In addition to birding on foot using the park’s trails, it is also possible to bird by car from Maple Glade Road, which runs through the park. Broad shoulders allow for quick pull-overs on this little-traveled road.
Birdlife: Over 135 species have been reported on eBird from Swallow Falls State Park. The park is one of the best places in Maryland to see Blackburnian Warblers, which breed here and can be easily found in the trees around the parking area. White-winged and Red Crossbills have been reported as winter or early spring visitors. Breeding birds include Ruffed Grouse, Black-billed Cuckoo, Broad-winged Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Dark-eyed Junco, both Louisiana and Northern Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, and Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Pine, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, and Canada Warblers.
Parking: Paved parking lot; also roadside parking along Maple Glade Road.
Special Features: A 5.5 mile hiking trail through the Garrett State Forest connects Herrington Manor State Park to Swallow Falls State Park. ◾ For those who are mobility-impaired, Maple Glade Road offers excellent birding from in or near the car. ◾ Swallow Falls is contained within the Youghiogheny Valley Important Bird Area (IBA), as designated by the National Audubon Society. Sensitive species found breeding within this IBA include Alder Flycatcher, Golden-winged Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and others. For more information on this IBA, see http://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/youghiogheny-valley-iba. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Allegany & Garrett Counties Bird Club, which hosts field trips in the region and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
Directions: From I-68, take Exit 14 at Keysers Ridge and MD Route 219. Follow MD Route 219 south for 19.5 miles to Mayhew Inn Road (2 miles past Deep Creek Lake). Turn right (west) on Mayhew Inn Road, and travel 4.5 miles to a stop sign at Oakland Sang Run Road. Turn left (south) here, and go 0.3 miles to first road on the right which will be Swallow Falls Road. Turn right (west) onto Swallow Falls Road and travel 1.3 miles to Maple Glade Road and the park entrance on the right. Turn north onto Maple Glade Road, which brings you into Swallow Falls State Park. Continue to the parking area.
Nearby Sites: Herrington Manor State Park, Mount Nebo WMA, Loch Lynn Heights Wetland Trail, Broadford Lake.
Habitats: Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Lawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass Field Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainRivers & Streams
Features: BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Birding By CarCampingFishingHiking/Walking TrailsOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewYoung People / Families
Type: Audubon Important Bird AreasDriving Tours (Birding By Car)State Natural Areas & WildlandsState Parks