Peacefully nestled in the western corner of Maryland where West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia meet is a tiny mountainous, lakeside town where cell service is lost, backroads are prominent, and adventure is in the air. This town is rapidly expanding its reputation as one of the most beautiful wooded areas on the east coast for whitewater adventure, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and lake adventures. McHenry sits at the northern shore of Deep Creek Lake, a giant manmade lake built in the early 1900s. Read on to find out how to spend your perfect 48 hours in McHenry, Maryland.
Day One: Cool Down at Swallow Falls State Park
Just a few miles east of Deep Creek Lake, Swallow Falls State Park has everything from waterfalls and swimming holes to bike trails and campsites. Home to Maryland’s highest waterfall, the 53-foot Muddy Creek Falls is less than a mile hike and connects to the smaller but just as serene Swallow Falls that cascade down the Youghiogheny River. Along this trail, you’ll get a taste of history as you pass by a camping spot chosen decades ago by Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Harvey Firestone. If you brought your bike along, ride the 5.5 mile trail that connects this state park to Herrington Manor State Park. If you’re lucky, an ice cream truck will be eagerly awaiting your return.
That huge body of water is manmade?!
Whether you’re paddling a kayak, cruising on a pontoon boat, fishing, or flipping over waves on your wakeboard, Deep Creek Lake’s vast array of wildlife, water, and nature will leave you wishing there were more hours in the day. Didn’t bring your kayak? Have no fear, there are numerous locations to rent all different types of boats for several hours or several days. For a very relaxing and laid back time, book an hour long pontoon boat tour with High Mountain Sports where you’ll cruise the calming waters while learning fascinating history and native knowledge of the lake and surrounding area. Did you know that the lake was built for a hydroelectric project in the early 1920s?
Photo via http://on.fb.me/1Ny1yKS
Tighten up your helmets and PFD’s and get ready for some whitewater
Through the Youghiogheny River’s upper section roars ten miles of adventurous and technical whitewater ranging from warm up class IV rapids to the daring class V rapids. The final mile, known as the ‘miracle mile’, is no place for hesitation as its non-stop class V drops more than 200 feet per mile. If you aren’t quite ready for the big guns, Adventure Sports Center International provides you with another unique whitewater experience. Sitting on top of a mountain that overlooks Deep Creek Lake, ASCI’s whitewater course is a one of a kind, manmade loop that was home to the 2014 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. Make your way around rafting, duckying, or kayaking.
Adventure is in your back yard at Wisp Resort
With high ropes courses, mountain biking, rock climbing, disc golf, mountain rollercoasters, skiing and snowboarding, Wisp Resort has something for every outdoor enthusiast young and old. Shred the gnar on the snowy slopes in the winter or downhill mountain bike in the warmer weather. Rattle the chains on the 18 hole disc golf course that works its way up and down the mountain and includes a scenic chairlift. Swing for par at the Lodestone Golf Course rated the number two golf course in the state of Maryland. Besides the plethora of activities available at the resort, they offer guided trips off site such as guided hiking, biking, and climbing and rappelling at the nearby Fork Run Recreation Area. Whatever your interests and skill level, Wisp Resort is ready to cater to your adrenaline craving or relaxing day in nature.
Bike, swim, fish, and hike at Deep Creek Lake State Park
Nestled beside Deep Creek Lake is the beautiful and well maintained Deep Creek Lake State Park where you can not only sun bathe on the beach and take a dip in the water, but embark on one of the hiking or biking trails. The park’s several trails take you up, down, and around Meadow Mountain and provide short out and back hikes or longer circuit loops. Black bear spottings aren’t an unusual occurrence to park goers as several are reported each week. Camping on one of their 112 campsites makes it easy to roll out of your sleeping bag and head down to boat launch open 24 hours a day for some morning fishing excursions on the calm lake filled with many breeds of fish. One highlight of the state park is the Discovery Center and its exhibits. Park rangers and other nature enthusiasts are frequently teaching educational programs about local wildlife, conservation issues, and other lake and environment information.
Mountain State Brewing Co. – The perfect way to end any adventure packed day is to enjoy a hand-crafted cold one while watching an elegant sunset at the base of a mountain. They boast not only heavenly beer, but also more than twenty specialty flatbreads each uniquely baked in a hand-built brick oven.
Moonshadow Café – Simply the best black bean burger I have ever had. Located in nearby Accident, Maryland, this eclectic café offers food fresh from the farm, craft beers on tap, live music, and an art gallery.
Canoe on the Run – This homey café serves delicious breakfasts, gourmet sandwiches, salads and wraps made with fresh ingredients, and delicious hot or cold specialty espressos and coffees.
Lakeside Creamery – By the time you park your car or tie up your boat next to the creamery, you might be drooling over the thought of their homemade ice creams, milkshakes, sundaes, and sorbets.
Honi-Honi Bar – The perfect place to grab a bite to eat, have a few drinks, and listen to great live music on the terrace overlooking Deep Creek Lake.
Stage Wisp Concert Series – Every Wednesday evening from late June to late August enjoy a free concert on the lawn located at the bottom of the ski slopes at Wisp Resort. Food and drinks will also be available for purchase during each concert.
Black Bear Restaurant and Tavern – Nightclub, grub, live music, and sports bar open late. What’s not to love?
Blue Moon Rising– Sleep well knowing you’ve chosen an eco-friendly and uniquely designed cabin built during the tiny home movement. Each cabin is between 250-300 square feet yet comes with beds, a kitchen, and full shower.
Trail Inn & Bed and Breakfast and Campground – With quaint and cozy rooms or well-kept camping spots, Trail Inn is the perfect place to take the family. Its convenient location is only a short walk to the Allegany Passage trail which can be used for hiking or biking.
Maryland’s Government Cup: This two day ski and snowboard race is open to all competitors with medals to be awarded to the top finishers. Be sure to cheer on your favorite athlete in the GS and SL events. March 12th-13th, 2016 at Wisp Resort
Autumn Glory Festival: In its 48th year, the Autumn Glory Festival takes five days to celebrate the vibrant and beautiful fall colors of the local area. Activities include parades, craft and antique shows, art exhibits, concerts, plenty of food and celebration, and much more. October 7th-11th, 2015
“The places that I visit most often in Garrett County to play are probably our two best climbing areas. Fork Run Recreation Area has 15 or so bolted climbs, as well as some good bouldering, so I spend a bit of time there. We also have a very consistent ice climbing area about 20 minutes from campus, outside of Swallow Falls State Park. Other places I get to regularly, some outside of Garrett County but close by…Wisp Resort for Telemark Skiing, Whitegrass for cross country skiing, Coopers Rock, Seneca Rocks, and from time to time I’ll mountain bike at the Margroff Plantation or Fork Run.”
Andrew Hershey, Associate Professor of Adventure Sports