Deep Creek still ‘on’ during off-season

Ellen Matis

Fall is a beautiful time to visit this popular state park, Swallow Falls State Park.

Deep Creek, Md., may be most well-known for its summer watersports and the slopes it offers skiers during the winter, but the fun doesn’t stop during the off-season.

The off-season, mid-October through mid-December in the fall, is a great time for a weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life — and is between 3 and 3 ½ hours away from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. residents.

Visitors will find a handful of recreational opportunities, plus entertainment, dining options and more this season in the areas surrounding Maryland’s largest, 3,900 acre lake.


As the temperature cools down and gets too chilly for watersports, visitors to Deep Creek take to the local state parks for the many hiking, biking and camping opportunities.

Muddy Creek Falls is one of four waterfalls in Swallow Falls State Park.
Muddy Creek Falls is one of four waterfalls in Swallow Falls State Park.

Swallow Falls State Parks, considered to be one of the most picturesque parks in Maryland, boasts four waterfalls that are relatively accessible to novice hikers.

The state’s tallest waterfall, Muddy Creek Falls, stands at 53-feet at the head of a 1 ¼-mile hiking trail. Following the trail along the water will take you to Upper and Lower Swallow Creek Falls, as well as a small, waterfall nestled in among the pines, Tolliver Falls.

Mountain bikers will find a trail accessible to them between Swallow Falls State Park and Herrington Mountain State Park, a 5 ½-mile trail.

There is a service fee to enter the park. In the offseason (May, September and October), the park charges $3 per person for Maryland residents and $5 per person for out of state residents. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, those prices are charged per car rather than per person.

Fall is a beautiful time to visit this popular state park, Swallow Falls State Park.
Fall is a beautiful time to visit this popular state park, Swallow Falls State Park.

Boaters will find that Deep Creek Lake State Park’s boat launch is open 24 hours per day. The park has 1 mile of shoreline along Deep Creek Lake, available for fishing, swimming and picnicking.

The park offers interpretive programs for visitors, led by a park naturalist, including guided hikes and evening campfire programs. Activity schedules are posted on bulletin boards throughout the park.

For solo hiking or mountain biking, Deep Creek Lake State Park’s Meadow Mountain offers trails, designated as moderate to difficult trails.

In nearby Friendsville, All Earth Eco Tours offers fall, guided nature walks around the Youghiogheny Wild and Scenic River Corridor on Sundays from 10 a.m. until noon, as well as kayaking tours on the lake with single or double kayaks. 

Other Activities:

Deep Creek offers a number of activities during the off-season (which are also open year-round), like horseback riding at two local stables, tours of local farms and farm markets, dining and entertainment.

Mountain State Brewing Company is in nearby McHenry.
Mountain State Brewing Company is in nearby McHenry.

Warm up on a crisp fall evening with one of the warm, alcoholic beverages offered at Ace’s Run Restaurant on the lakeside. Recommended: The Holiday Cider, with muddled oranges, maraschino cherries, lemon, lime, spiced cider and rum.

Craft beer lovers can visit Mountain State Brewing Company, down the road in McHenry. They’re currently featuring their flagship brews, the Cold Traile Blonde Ale, Almost Heaven Amber Ale, and Seneca IPA as well as a seasonal Miner’s Daughter Stout. The West Virginia-based brewery is also serving up unique flatbreads and bar foods at its Deep Creek location.

The Deep Creek Experience website features a host of upcoming events in the coming weeks. See it on

Where to stay:

Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations offers almost 350 properties in the Deep Creek, ranging from small, cozy cabins to properties large enough to host the entire extended family.

"Whisper Me Timbers" is one of more than 300 rentals offered by Taylor-Made.
“Whisper Me Timbers” is one of more than 300 rentals offered by Taylor-Made.

The company offers add-ons to its rental packages, including an adventure package that offers kid-centric activity ideas in its Deep Creek Adventurer’s Passport, plus coupons from local vendors. For those getting out of town without the kids, a romance package gives couples the chance to visit a local restaurant with a gift certificate, two souvenir wine glasses and a few other options.

Renters with Taylor-Made will find within their property a discount card, redeemable at many local businesses.

Tend to pack too much? Taylor-Made has teamed up with The Sonder Project, leaving a reusable bag in its homes for renters to leave leftover non-perishable items to be donated to local charities.

See a tour of the Whisper Me Timbers rental property below.

Insider tip: If you’re planning a stay closer to the holidays, Taylor Made offers the opportunity to have a real or artificial tree added to your rental during your stay.

Other rental options in the area include Railey Mountain Lake Vacations and Deep Creek Lodging, or go glamping with Offlake Rentals.

More information:

The Deep Creek Experience:

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