The official motto of Maryland reads, “Strong Deeds, Quiet Words,” and that slightly nebulous statement can serve as a microcosm of the state itself. This disjointed, smallish mid-Atlantic state is a puzzle to the uninitiated.
Is it a weigh station to the northeast urban hubs of Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York City? Is it a stop-off for a quick crab cake on the way to the ancestral south and the rolling hills of Virginia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas? Is it simply the keeper of the Chesapeake and its surrounding natural wonder?
Well, perhaps it’s all of these things and more! Maryland’s lineage dates back to pre-16th century exploration by Europeans when many Native Tribes inhabited it, most notably the Algonquian peoples. In 1632, the colony was founded at the behest of George Calvert, also known as the first Lord Baltimore of England, with the blessing of Charles I and named after King Charles’ wife, Henrietta Maria.
The colony joined the burgeoning U.S. following the American Revolution. It became the first “Free State,” a state nickname, after abolishing slavery in the throes of the America Civil War in 1864.
With a rich history and natural beauty as impressive as anywhere in the mid-Atlantic region, there is so much to explore in the state, sometimes known as “Little America.”
Check out some of these can’t miss state parks to see, learn, and experience more:
Calvert Cliffs State Park: This site contains the massive namesake cliffs, branded for Lord George Calvert, that take a starring role on the coastline of the Chesapeake Bay for nearly 24 miles in Calvert County. Formed millions of years ago when warm sea waters mostly covered continental Maryland, the cliffs began to erode as the water receded throughout the millennia. Today, the area is a popular hiking attraction with more than 13 miles of trails, fossil hunters scouring for a piece of ancient history, and beachgoers seeking a quiet day on the shore. This spot is a true gem that can’t be passed up!
Swallows Falls State Park: Just outside of Oakland, MD, up in the low mountain region of the state, lies a natural wonder that must be seen to be believed. The stunning waterfall that gives this park its name is a draw for nature lovers far and wide. All 53 feet of cascading water from the Youghiogheny River creates a magnificent tableau of rushing white water and jagged rock that stops visitors in their tracks. The 1.25-mile trail through the hemlock forest to the falls offers travelers some of the most breathtaking views in the western part of the “Free State.”
Rocks State Park: Speaking of waterfalls, this destination in Harford Country offers the opportunity to catch another jaw-dropping fall and much more. More than 850 acres of rocky forest make up the park, offering almost 4 miles of hiking trails and access to Deer Creek, a hotspot for fishing, wading, and tubing. But the real attraction is the titular rock formation known as The King And Queen Seat. This 190-foot outcrop, preserved officially by the state in 1949, overlooks Deer Creek and the surrounding area. The truly wild and experienced climbers can even ascend the stunning natural structure up to 115 feet. This Maryland treasure ranks at the top of the list for adventurers in the mid-Atlantic.