Skip to Main Content

Autumn Falls: A photo essay

Simply put, waterfalls are nothing more than rivers flowing over rocks but that doesn’t stop them from being among the most wondrous sights our natural world has to offer.

You may think the only way to enjoy such areas beyond social media is to travel to faraway states, but I’m here to show you the roars, and the whispers of Maryland’s falls—from blips in creeks to drops taller than the four-story office building in which I sit writing. Combine that with Maryland’s perfect mid-Atlantic positioning for idyllic flaming foliage, and I challenge you to find a sight more spectacular this autumn season.

Great Falls; by Aaron Krosner

Great Falls; by Aaron Krosner

Great Falls

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Montgomery County

Some of the oldest rocks in Maryland—750 million years—form this series of rapids on the Potomac River. The cascading falls formed when the sea level dropped during the ice age, causing the river to down cut its valley several thousand years ago.

Admire from afar. Slippery footing and a high-speed current can easily cause life-threatening situations.


Cascade FAlls; by Nicolas Raymond

Cascade Falls; by Nicolas Raymond

Cascade Falls

Patapsco Valley State Park, Howard County

Located in the Orange Grove Area—one of the park’s most scenic—these falls gently descend 10-15 feet and can be reached by way of a marked trail.


Kilgore Falls; by Sherrie Lynne Fornoff

Kilgore Falls; by Sherrie Lynne Fornoff

Kilgore Falls

Rocks State Park, Harford County

Dropping 17 feet at Falling Branch, this is Maryland’s second highest vertical waterfall. A serene hiking trail leads through an undeveloped, environmentally sensitive area. Rising popularity has led park rangers to encourage guests to limit visits to weekday mornings.


Muddy Creek Falls; by Danielle Marcus

Muddy Creek Falls; by Danielle Marcus

Muddy Creek Falls

Swallow Falls State Park, Garrett County

An impressive 54-foot sight, this is the tallest vertical dropping waterfall in the state. The tannic waters originate near Cranesville and flow into the scenic Youghiogheny River. An accessible observation deck stands above the falls for safe and picturesque viewing.

Be alert for hazards caused by white water rivers, such as violent rapids, swift currents, deep pools, cold water and slippery rocks.


Toliver Falls; by Mohib Ahmad

Tolliver Falls; by Mohib Ahmad

Tolliver Falls

Swallow Falls State Park, Garrett County

Many consider this modest, eight-foot cascade to be the loveliest in the park. Nestled by the region’s famed Hemlock trees, many cozy vantage points exist along Tolliver Creek.


Article by Lauren Mitchell—publications manager and graphic designer.
Appears in Vol. 19, No. 4 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, fall 2016.