Everything You Need to Know for An Autumn Adventure Weekend

Are you looking to have a little adventure and make Insta-worthy memories this fall? The perfect opportunity awaits you with a special weekend in Garrett County: breathe the fresh air on awesome hikes, get outside and pedal on bike rides, enjoy the annual Autumn Glory Festival, and take in the scenic views of an East Coast Autumn.

The natural fall foliage “show” typically peaks the second weekend in October (and our town was recently named one of the best for the fall colors by Travel + Leisure Magazine).

Photo by Gena Sweeney

The Top Autumn Hike

The Garrett County and the Deep Creek Lake, MD area is known for its rural beauty in all seasons, but fall is especially spectacular. The top recommended hike is the short walk to Maryland’s highest free-flowing waterfall, Muddy Creek Falls, in Swallow Falls State Park.

Upon entering the park, please pay the fee (per vehicle): $3/per Maryland resident and $5/per out of state resident. During peak season the entrance gate has an attendant but in the off-season the entrance is based on the honor system. The park is open daily, year-round from 8:00 A.M. to sunset.

Once in the park, you can leave your vehicle in the lot immediately to your right and take a left at the first intersection on the Canyon Trail to Muddy Creek Falls. If you need special accommodations, there is also a road to the left once in the park entrance and to the left past the general store. This handicapped accessible road allows those with difficulty walking to take a smoother route or park closer to the wooden ramp near the falls. Once down the wooden ramp at the falls, one must-have photo op is slightly to the right with the perfect view of the entire falls. There are numerous overlook decks for the perfect vantage points that run the length of the falls via a staircase.

Note: there is a looping trail where you can start right there at Muddy Creek Falls, go by Lower Swallow Falls, the roaring Upper Swallow Falls, and see the magical Tolliver Falls. This hike can be a bit strenuous with rocks, roots, ice, mud, and steep sections but the entire Swallow Falls Canyon Trail is just over a mile long.

A little fun fact is that Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone camped at what is present-day Swallow Falls State Park near Muddy Creek Falls. The, self-proclaimed Vagabonds, group had accepted an invite to camp there from Fred W. Besley, Maryland’s first State Forester.

Tolliver Falls at Swallow Falls State Park
Muddy Creek Falls at Swallow Falls State Park
Fall Foliage at Swallow Falls State Park
Photos by
Sarah Myers

Get On Your Bike and Ride

As an avid cyclist, I can’t believe my good fortune in having such a wide range of trails available right here in our local area.


For those folks just getting into biking, we have two awesome trail systems in the Oakland area. Broadford Lake has a short gravel loop that is a wide trail experience while perfect for trail users seeking a beginner trail. The trail continues on with a total of 3 miles offering beginner to intermediate-level experiences and opportunities for skill development. Also, newly completed in the fall of 2022, Garrett State Forest has unveiled about 4-6 miles of new trails. This is solidly considered singletrack and has some elevation changes, some rocks and some roots throughout the trails. You can get to these trails from Snaggy Mountain Road or via Herrington Manor State Park trails.

If you’re up for a little bit more of a challenge, Deep Creek Lake State Park has some ridiculously fun trails. The elevation change can be intense on some of them, but the red Beckman’s trail is a regular ride for the local beginner / intermediate riders and our local NICA mountain bike team. These kids can really ride!

If you’d like test a bike out for the weekend, check out Deep Creek e-Bikes Rentals and Sales. They have a wide selection of e-bikes available for use by the hour or by the day.

No matter which trails you’re considering, PLEASE be sure to consult the Maryland State hunting calendar for the dates of each season. Especially at Garrett State Forest, the trails are shared-use and run through areas that could be open for hunting animals such as deer, turkey, or bears.

The Autumn Glory Festival

Witness the scenic fall views and great fall fun. Once named the world’s top fall festival by MSN.com, the annual Autumn Glory Festival is a sight to behold. This is a festival that is jammed-packed full of awesome events such as:

Also, the annual activities guide gives all of the details on area happenings. Also, note the many craft and antique vendor shows! Support the community and be a part of one of the most famous fall festivals!

Over 60,000 people come to visit this corner of Maryland for this fall weekend. It’s not too late to check with the area vacation rental companies or rentals by owner for weekend availability.

Oh, and some of the very best food and snacks will be available this weekend. Be sure to scope out the Rotary fries truck… add vinegar and ketchup… yum! If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, check out our dining guide for top spots!

We hope to see you here!