Swallow Falls is a Maryland State Park nine miles north of Oakland. It's bordered by the Youghiogheny River and is full of rapids and beauty. If you look up the website (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/swallowfalls.html, for directions and rules), it isn't lying; the whole place is spectacular. Anyone who lives within a hundred miles should be obligated to visit at least once. If you have any sort of appreciation for nature, you'll want to come back. Bring friends. Be prepared to get wet and muddy, climb rocks, and wander around in child-like awe.

As for advice, it's in a mountainous area and at night it gets extrordinarily cold. This doesn't merely mean "Bring a sleeping bag." If you have a sleeping bag built for the arctic, this is a step in the right direction. You're probably going to take this trip when the weather isn't terribly cold so that you can play in the water, but bring several pairs of socks and a couple layers of shirts.

And for the water, in some places the current is very strong. I'm not sure if you're supposed to swim in the water or not, so if the state police comes up and tells you to get out, do so, as politely and promptly as you can. (I haven't had this problem, but it's always a good rule to follow when police officers ask you to do something.) While you're in the water, you might want to wear water shoes or sandles, since the rocks on the bottom can be sharp. Watch where you're going because there could be things like barbed wire caught in the shoreline.

According to my father, his boy scout troop slid down the rapids like a waterslide when he was a kid. I'm not going to suggest this unless you're really open to getting bruises and you scout out where the water is heading for--don't jump in if you don't see several foolproof ways of getting out. But it's possible, at least.

It's remarkably simple to go underneath Muddy Creek Falls, and very fun. The easiest way to do so is to cross to the other side and just walk underneath. Go to the bottom of the falls, walk out on the rocks, jump in, crawl to avoid being swept away, and you're there. Alternately, if there's a lot of you, get one person to do that and then link arms, which is best if anyone's scared about getting swept downstream (which would probably hurt). You have to duck under the falls, but you're walking on solid shale and shouldn't have any problems. You can go back the same way, or swim out from the other side, but since it's difficult to get back onto the rocks once you're in the water, make sure that you have someone waiting to grab your hand if you get swept by.

Quiet hours are from 11PM until 7AM. Bring music, but if you're going to play it in public, keep it child-friendly. Pink Floyd is good; Lords of Acid is bad. There are usually families with young children who will appreciate this.

It might be because my friends and I are tree-hugging hippie freaks, but sitting in the mossy rocks and trees is a wonderful way to feel peaceful and relaxed. The place is some sort of magical fairy forest kingdom if you want it to be.

We were just enjoying a lazy day, floating on our backs in the sun, when the current caught me. Panicked, I felt myself moving toward the rocks and the drop in the river as it passed over them. “*hi*” I thought, this is really going to hurt. Seconds later I’m at the bottom, no worse for the wear. Amazingly the rocks were smooth, the water path guided me between boulders like a slide at a kiddie pool!

I stand up and look around and see other people are doing this on purpose! More relieved that no one else knew I thought I was going to die than at still being alive, I walk back to the top and join the queue.


My Big Adventure Story for iceowl's quest!


This is a picture of the spot:
http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/features/swallow.html
and also here (the adventure seeker and the kayak photos)
http://www.ciw.edu/deep-creek/area/
and a text description for kayakers (recommends portaging)
more lovely photos of others aspects of the Swallow Falls State Park:
I especially like the rock tower (just below the falls in the w/u) and Muddy Creek Falls (which is fun to sit under)and the staircase falls (fun to catch crawfish in)
http://mrhanky.pha.jhu.edu/~bridget/DeepCreek/
http://mrhanky.pha.jhu.edu/~bridget/DeepCreek/DeepCreek2

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