View of Potomac river from mountain
John Canan

25 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors in Maryland

By Chris Landers
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View of Potomac river from mountain
John Canan

Outdoor Adventures 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.

1
Maryland State Parks
Girl enjoying the outdoors

Maryland is blessed with a wide variety of State Parks, reflecting mountains, beaches, waterfalls, lakes, hiking trails, bird-watching, picnicing, camping, fishing and other out of doors opportunities. In fact, parks, wildlands and forests managed by the Department of Natural Resources are in every corner of the State.

More info....

2
Ride the Rail Trails
Couple biking GAP

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 28 miles of flat, paved bike trail along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail connects Annapolis and Glen Burnie along the former B&A Short Line Railroad. The Indian Head Rail Trail
includes an elevated rail bed that passes through the Mattawoman Creek stream valley.  Cyclists, hikers and nature enthusiasts will enjoy its many attributes.  There are more than a dozen rail trails in the state, so you can see much of Maryland this way. More on biking in Maryland.

3
Golf
Golf hole at Links at Perry Cabin
Joann Dost

The railroad ties surrounding this island green define the legenday course designer Pete Dye

Whether you’re looking to punch your shots over a marsh or rip drives through a dense woodland, Maryland has a golf course for you. Much of the golf world’s attention has turned to Ocean City in recent years because so many strong courses are clustered there. With a surprisingly diverse array of options throughout the state, though, every golfer is sure to find a track to fit his or her game. 
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4
Camping in Maryland
Jellystone Park cabin

With beautiful oceanside beaches and thick forests, Maryland is ideal for camping and glamping.  Whether you're looking for a rustic off-the-grid getaway or a fun family vacation at a campground resort -  Maryland is where you want to be!
Find the perfect campground location in Maryland.

 

5
Enjoy the Beaches of Assateague Island
Family watching ponies on Assateague

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 on Maryland's beaches and waterfronts....

6
Fly Fish in the Savage River
Family fishing

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.

More about fishing in Maryland....

7
Nature Watching and Birding
Scarlet Tanager at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge

With intermittent barrier islands, scenic cypress swamps and Eastern Shore bays, it's logical that Maryland is home to a diverse assortment of bird-watching sites and natural habitats. An astonishing array of birds pass through Maryland during their annual migrations.

Find your best vantage point

8
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding - SUP
Man on a stand-up paddleboard and a woman in a canoe.
National Harbor and Boating in DC

Stand-up Paddleboard, referred to as SUP, is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing watersports and is a new way to have fun on many of Maryland's waterways.

More Information...

9
Ferry to Smith Island
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.

10
Visit The Ice Age (Cranesville Swamp)
Cranesville Swamp Preserve

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.

11
Fossil Hunt at Calvert Cliffs State Park
This Chesapeake Bay beach is famous with fossil hunters looking for sharks teeth.

Dig for fossils including 23 million-year-old megalodon shark teeth at this remarkably beautiful park on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.

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 info

12
Crab on the Chesapeake Bay
Smith Island Waterman Morris Marsh on Crab Scrape Darlene
life.adventure.exposure-Instagram

Experience a day working on the water on a Watermen’s Heritage Tour. Catch your limit of blue crabs, then help your captain pull commercial crab pots. In the fall and winter, experience the hard work of hand tonging for oysters.

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 gain a new appreciation for the origins of the steamed bushel you pick up on the way home.

13
Tube Gunpowder River
Tubing at Gunpowder Falls in Monkton

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 summer. Located just north of Baltimore, the Gunpowder meanders through light rapids and pools. Tube rentals and shuttles to get back upriver are available nearby.

14
Paddle around Janes Island
Kayaking near Janes Island
VisitMaryland.org

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 info

15
Run in One of Maryland’s Many Marathons (and Other Races)
Seneca Creek Trail Marathon - Gaithersburg

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?

More info...

16
Go “Downy Ocean, Hon”
Open for Beach Experiences

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.

17
Cycle the East Coast Greenway
East Coast Greenway
http://www.greenway.org/

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.

18
Raft the Wild Youghiogheny
Running the Rapids of the Youghiogheny River

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.”

More info

19
Hang Ten in Ocean City
Ocean City Surfing - Terry Sterner
Worcester County Tourism

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?).

20
Follow the Captain John Smith Trail
Walkers on Trails in Maryland

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.

21
Rock Climb in Maryland’s Mountains
Rock Climbing at Rocks State Park.

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.

22
Go Mountain Biking in Patapsco Valley State Park
Cascade Falls st Patapsco Valley State Park
instagram @hipphikergal

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!

23
Get Lost in the Maze
Corn Maze - Thurmont

There’s something about fall that inspires farmers to carve intricate patterns in their crops and invite strangers to wander around. Winterbrook Farms in Thurmont is the state’s largest corn maze—with two dozen checkpoints, no less—and after you find your way out, you can take a turn at the new apple-shooting air cannons.  Winterbrook Farms has been the Lawyer Family Farm since 1922, and adds new activities for visitors all the time. Find more fall fun on the farms of Maryland.

24
Visit a Deserted Island
Hart-Miller Island State Park
VisitMaryland.org

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-serve basis near the mooring fields. It's a perfect way to relax after a day on the water. Find out more about touring the islands of Maryland.

25
Bike, Hike (or Golf, or Paddle) at Wisp Resort
The Wisp Resort Mountain Park at Deep Creek Lake offers 3 canopy tour challenge adventures, the mountain coaster, geocaching, disc golf and more.
WISP Resort

The Wisp Resort Mountain Park at Deep Creek Lake offers 3 canopy tour challenge adventures, the mountain coaster, geocaching, disc golf and more.

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.

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