Betsy Spiker Holcomb Deep Creek Lakes favorite Realtor
Hurricane Sandy Damage Update-Swallow Falls State Park .I took my sister and her husband down to Swallow Falls this weekend to show them the amazing beauty of this Garrett County gem. One thing that stood out was the destruction left behind following Hurricane Sandy and the amount of trees down was staggering to say the least. The county has done a fantastic job clearing the trails so you can access the hike from Muddy Creek Falls – Swallow Falls – Tolliver Falls and back to the parking lot. Some trees that are down are flipped over like rows of dominoes while other huge ancient Hemlock trees are literally twisted and ripped in half from the brute force of the wind and heavy snow. I spoke with park officials today who have informed me that 50% of the trees were lost due to Sandy, which is hard to believe until you hike the park where it becomes much more apparent. Crews have logged in a total of 3000 hours cleaning up the park and trails to ensure safe hiking but due to sensitive management areas they will leave downed trees where they lay. They will of course use whatever resources necessary to keep the trails clear.
One area that I feel benefited from this colossal storm was the overlook to Swallow Falls. You know the one…the one about a little over half way from Muddy Creek going upstream that you used to have to peer through thick underbrush to see the falls. No More. It is a wide open view slot now great for a relaxing break or photographs.
Don’t fret, you can still enjoy all that this popular park has to offer but there has been a slight change in scenery over the winter that will become familiar as time heals our memories.
River Kayaking the Youghiogheny River Deep Creek Lake
I was taking my weekly hike at Swallow Falls State Park this weekend trying to photograph the beautiful waterfalls when I stumbled upon a very exciting scene. I have always known that there is a put-in for kayaks by the bridge but never was there to see someone come through Swallow Falls. My experience with water sports revolves elusively around the ocean and the lake up to this point, so it really got my adrenaline flowing knowing these guys were going to bomb this violent waterfall on kayaks.
There were three guys paddling my way very casually without apprehension of the raging waters and dramatic elevation change ahead. The lead kayaker set his line for the center chute and paddled into its smooth channel at the top of the falls aggressive and calculated. His speed started racing with the bottleneck of the water flow as he was catapulted into the raging falls and for a moment was submerged by fierce white water. It wasn’t long before he accelerated out of the powerful rapids to the calm swirling pool below.
The other two guys came through with the same intensity as the first and they all casually glided down the Youghiogheny River until they vanished from my site. My love for Deep Creek Lake sports has already been long since established but now I have a fire burning in me to try my hand at river kayaking. I think it may be a wise decision for me to take baby steps far away from raging Swallow Falls!
There’s a story in ’em ‘er woods…or more like it, a whole lot of stories! Swallow Falls State Park is just outside of Deep Creek Lake, Maryland and stretches to about 257 acres along the scenic Youghiogheny River. Hiking trails will lead you to 2 large falls, Swallow Falls and Muddy Creek Falls, as well as several smaller whitewaters. Tall Hemlocks dominate the silent woods, which are estimated to be 300+ years old.
As a native to Garrett County, Maryland I’ve walked these paths on many occasions but I learn something new about the historical park each time I visit. On my most recent trip to Swallow Falls, I noticed a few things about the trees that adorn its forests.
Youghiogheny Grove is a 37-acre area of virgin Hemlock and White Pine and is the last stand of its kind in Maryland. Another grove of trees a little closer to the river is known as Towering Giants. Because of their age, the trees’ root systems are shallow and particularly vulnerable to storm damage. Some of the treetops and limbs have been stripped over the years, but to look up and see the sunlight glistening through them is a spectacle you’ll want to experience.