Central Maryland is filled with opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy biking, hiking and watersports.
Biking the Bridge at Patapsco Valley State Park
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25 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors in Maryland

Maryland's varied terrain and climate mean there's a way for everyone to get outside and have some fun—whatever the season.

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Captain John Smith Trail at Piscataway Park

1 Hike the Appalachian Trail

Maryland's portion of the Appalachian Trail covers 40 picturesque miles, from Pen-Mar to the Potomac River. It's an easy hike (by Appalachian Trail standards). Just follow the ridge of South Mountain—and keep following it until you hit Virginia!

Hit the slopes at this popular resort in Western Maryland for your winter adrenalin fix.

2 Ski (or Golf, or Paddle) at Wisp Resort

This Western Maryland ski resort offers 172 acres of skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. If snow sports aren’t your thing, that’s no problem. Golfers can while away the day on the Lodestone Golf Course, and you can bike through the mountains or paddle the surrounding rivers. Stay a while at the resort hotel so you have time to enjoy every outdoor activity on offer.

The trout fishing is as sublime as the lake itself here.

3 Fly Fish in the Savage River

Western Maryland has its own world-class trout fishing river: the Savage. Totaling almost 30 miles, it's divided into the Upper Savage River (populated mostly by wild brook and stocked rainbow trout) and the Lower Savage River tail-waters (filled with wild brown and brook trout). It's all accessible by road in the beautiful 57,000-acre Savage River Forest.


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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
127 Headquarters Ln
Grantsville, MD 21536
301-895-5759


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Kayakers near Janes Island

4 Kayak Maryland’s Waterways

From ocean to bay, rivers to lakes, one of the best ways to get a unique view of the state is from the water. From wildlife and waterfront towns to waterfalls and lighthouses, see Maryland in a new way.

Tubing at Gunpowder Falls in Monkton

5 Tube Gunpowder Falls

Get in on this local annual tradition. Floating down the Gunpowder in the cold waters (they don't get much above 60 degrees even on the hottest days) released by the Prettyboy Dam is a great way to beat the heat of the hottest summer days. Located just north of Baltimore, the Gunpowder meanders through light rapids and pools. Tube rentals and shuttles to get back upriver are available nearby.


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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
2813 Jerusalem Rd
Kingsville, MD 21087
410-592-2897


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Crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay

6 Crab on the Chesapeake Bay

There's no need for a commercial crabbing outfit for a fun time crabbing with the kids. Check out the Chesapeake Bay's most famous resident up close with just a string, some bait (chicken necks are a local favorite) and a net. Catch the limit of two dozen Jimmies—male hard crabs—with no permit necessary, and just gain a new appreciation for the origins of the steamed bushel you pick up on the way home.

This Chesapeake Bay beach is famous with fossil hunters looking for sharks teeth.

7 Fossil Hunt at Calvert Cliffs State Park

Kids (and science geeks of all ages) will love hanging out on the park’s beach looking for fossils (we’re talking shark's teeth rather than T. Rex bones, but still…). Go after a storm, when fresh fossils wash ashore.


More about Calvert Cliffs State Park
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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
10540 H.G. Trueman Rd
Lusby, MD 20657
301-743-7613


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Camping at Green Ridge State Forest

8 Camp at Green Ridge

Green Ridge State Forest is only a few hours away from the big cities and towns, but offers everything an outdoorsman (or woman) could want. As the largest public land in the state (47,650 acres), Green Ridge offers hunting, fishing, paddling and 100 primitive campsites.

Wild Ponies on Assateague Island National Seashore

9 Walk the Beaches of Assateague Island

Just a short ride from the bustle of Ocean City, Assateague Island, with its pristine beaches and wild horses, is a great family getaway. Camp out on the beach or take a stroll on one of the nature walks. Did we mention that the place is full of wild horses? Wild horses!


More about Assateague State Park
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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
7307 Stephen Decatur Hwy
Berlin, MD 21811
410-641-2918


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Kayaking near Janes Island

10 Paddle around Janes Island

Janes Island State Park is home to 30 miles of sheltered, secluded water trails perfect for canoeing, not to mention pristine beaches and amazing sunsets. For overnight trips, visitors can stay at one of the campsites on the mainland or venture out to one of the back-country sites along the water trails.


More about Janes Island State Park
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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
26280 Alfred J. Lawson Dr
Crisfield, MD 21817
410-968-1565


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Bike the long stretches of trail along the C&O Towpath Trail, part of the Maryland Scenic Byways.

11 Ride the Rail Trails

While the train is still a great way to get around, there aren’t that many around anymore. The railroad's loss can be your gain, as more and more of these abandoned railroad tracks have been paved over and turned into biking and hiking trails. The Western Maryland Rail Trail boasts 23 miles of flat, paved bike trail along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and the Baltimore-Annapolis one connects Annapolis and Glen Burnie along the former B&A Short Line Railroad. There are more than a dozen rail trails in the state, so you can see much of Maryland this way.

Thrashers Fries on the Boardwalk in Ocean City

12 Go “Downy Ocean, Hon”

Where do Marylanders go to beat the heat? Down the ocean, hon. Whether you’re in search of beachy t-shirts, the famous Thrashers French Fries or a Bull On The Beach beef sandwich, or you long to run across the hot sand and dive into the cool water, Ocean City and its surrounding area have been a part of childhood in Maryland for well over 100 years.

Biking in Cumberland, Western Maryland

13 Cycle the East Coast Greenway

Sort of an urban Appalachian Trail, the East Coast Greenway links cities and towns from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. Here in Maryland, it's about a third off-road trails, open to non-motorized traffic of all kinds, giving adventurous bicyclists and hikers a route from Elkton to Baltimore to Annapolis to Washington.

Running the Rapids of the Youghiogheny River

14 Raft the Wild Youghiogheny

The Youghiogheny River (pronounced “Yok-uh-GAY-ne” or just “Yok” for short) cuts along the far western border of Maryland, running north towards Pennsylvania. Youghiogheny is an Algonquin word meaning “flows in a contrary direction,” and the most popular rapids are Class IV-V, which, if you are not a dedicated rafter, is an Algonquin phrase meaning “bring a guide.”

Cranesville Swamp Preserve

15 Visit The Ice Age (Cranesville Swamp)

15,000 years ago, when the glaciers of the Ice Age retreated, a little piece of boreal swamp formed in a mountain “frost pocket” in Western Maryland. Today, the Cranesville Swamp is home to 50 species of rare animals and plants, and a subarctic wetland that mimics those much further north in Canada. It will give you a glimpse of what North America looked like during the Ice Age.


More about Cranesville Subartic Swamp
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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
Cranesville Rd and Lake Ford Rd
Oakland, MD 21550
301-387-4386


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Ocean City Surfing

16 Hang Ten in Ocean City

There's almost always surfing in Ocean City. Beaches are cordoned off every day for locals and tourists to try their luck at surfing. But the real action—the surfing locals swear is the best—requires a thick wet suit and an appalling lack of common sense. That's because the best waves come to town after most of the tourists have gone home, in the depths of winter, with an average water temperature in the thirties. People swear by it (but hard core surfers have to be a little crazy, right?).

Seneca Creek Trail Marathon - Gaithersburg

17 Run in One of Maryland’s Many Marathons (and Other Races)

There are more than a dozen marathons in Maryland in any given year, from the Seneca Creek Trail Marathon and 50K in Gaithersburg, to the XTERRA Big Elk Marathon in Elkton. Add in all the other ultra-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, relays and trail races, and the total is closer to 1,000. If you're looking for an excuse to get outside and get some exercise, it's tough to find a weekend that doesn’t have a running event somewhere in the state, so what are you waiting for?

Rock Climbing at Rocks State Park.

18 Rock Climb in Maryland’s Mountains

The thing about mountains is there's always something on the other side. If you want to see it for yourself, you'd better start climbing. Carderock has long been a popular site in the Capital Region for climbing and bouldering, while the aptly named Rocks State Park, further north in Harford County, is one of the best spots for traditional climbing.

Biking on trails in Patapsco Valley State Park

19 Go Mountain Biking in Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park, along the Patapsco River, is one of Maryland's oldest state parks, founded in 1907. The rough, hilly terrain in the valley makes it perfect for experienced bikers, and more casual riders will want to check out the trails near the top to see beautiful scenery, complete with waterfalls, bridges and stream crossings. Come prepared to get muddy!


More about Patapsco Valley State Park
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Type:
Scenic Points & Landmarks


Location:
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043
410-461-5005


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Baskets of Darlington Apples at the Darlington Apple Festival

20 Pick Your Own Fruits And Vegetables at Maryland Farms

Maryland food is more than just blue crabs and Old Bay. Stock up on vegetables from one of the many pick-your-own farms in the state and eat healthier while supporting a local farmer. Pickyourown.org has a listing of the farms near you and the crops that are in season.

Corn Maze - Thurmont

21 Get Lost in the Moonlight Maze

There’s something about fall that inspires farmers to carve intricate patterns in their crops and invite strangers to wander around. Lawyer’s Farm & Moonlight Maze in Thurmont is the state’s largest corn maze—five of them, actually—and after you find your way out, you can take a turn at the 75mph pumpkin-shooting air cannon.

Cinema Al Fresco - Baltimore

22 Watch a Movie Under the Stars

There's no better way to watch a film than snuggled on a blanket under the night sky. Maryland boasts a ton of outdoor film festivals, including Cinema al Fresco in Baltimore's Little Italy (hello, free popcorn!) and Ocean City's Movies on the Beach. Here is a list of Outdoor Movies throughout the state.

Walkers on Trails in Maryland

23 Walk the Captain John Smith Trail

Follow in the wake of Capt. John Smith, 400 years after he explored the Chesapeake Bay. The National Park Service's Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail traces his journeys through his notes and journals, as the explorer and his men traveled the area by small boat. Details and maps are available at the Park Service website.

Hart-Miller Island State Park

24 Visit a Deserted Island

Just outside Baltimore City, Hart-Miller Island and Pleasure Island are uninhabited beach getaways accessible only by boat. Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis near the mooring fields. It's a perfect way to relax after a day on the water.

Chocolate Smith Island Cake

25 Ferry to Smith Island

Famous for its layered cakes (the official dessert of Maryland), Smith Island is a short ferry ride away from Crisfield on the Eastern Shore, but a world away from the mainland in every other respect. This island-out-of-time is one of the last inhabited islands in the Chesapeake.

Outdoor Recreation Photos & Videos

Biking in Patapsco Valley State Park
This park in Central Maryland is a popular spot for mountain biking.
Kayaking at Janes Island State Park
Janes Island is an ideal spot for watersports like kayaking.
C&O Canal’s Billy Goat Trail
Be rewarded with beautiful views of the Great Falls of the Potomac on this trail.
Whitewater Rafting at Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI)
ASCI's man-made rapids offer thrilling rafting adventures.
Paddling Near Bladensburg
Float along the Anacostia River, one of the most historic waterways in America.
King and Queen's Seat at Rocks State Park
Climb the King and Queen's Seat at this state park and enjoy the vistas of the park's lush forests.

Outdoor Recreation

Trip Ideas

Central Maryland is filled with opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy biking, hiking and watersports.
Biking Trips in Maryland

Hop on your bike and see Maryland from a more intimate perspective.

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Bike Trail and Tracks of Maryland
Places to Go Biking

Hit these trails around Maryland to get a great view of the state from your bike.

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Campgrounds

Search our list of campgrounds in Maryland.

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Hiking

Find top places to go hiking in Maryland, including hiking trails, beaches, nature preserves and more.

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Camping

Search our comprehensive list of Camping in Maryland.

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Central Maryland Campgrounds

Search our comprehensive list of campgrounds in Central Maryland.

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Outdoor Recreation

Find state parks, marinas, hiking trails and other outdoor recreation-related listings here.