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cliffs along the coast at a state park near baltimore marylandBaltimore is widely known as the “Birthplace of The Star-Spangled Banner.” Penned by none other than Francis Scott Key in 1814. Key, inspired by a large American flag he saw billowing in the wind, wrote the first verse on the back of a letter he was composing.

This official slogan carries great weight in this important east coast seaport. Another moniker for Baltimore, “Charm City” (equally weighty), is a nod to the city’s welcoming spirit, exciting waterfront, and thrilling adventures.

From seeing the National Aquarium, visiting the eclectic waterside neighborhood of Fells Point, or touring the American Visionary Arts Museum, Baltimore is a fantastic city to visit for history, culture, art, natural treasures, restaurants, and shopping.

Charm City has so much to offer in recreational opportunities, too—there are parks, playgrounds, and sports courts to get you outside to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural world.

If you feel the need to get out and about and see what other natural wonders Baltimore and the state of Maryland have, state parks offer a great variety of activities and amenities to explore.

From the bay to many public areas with falls, rivers, lakes, and wildlife sanctuaries, the diverse Maryland landscape provides a wonderful array of opportunities to experience the great outdoors.

Join us as we explore five lovely state parks near Baltimore.

Map of State Parks Near Baltimore MD

Here is a map of the Maryland state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Baltimore

Here are each of those state parks with distance from Baltimore and what is special about each.

1. Calvert Cliffs State Park

coastline at calvert cliffs state parkLocation: 10540 H G Trueman Rd, Lusby, MD 20657

An hour and a half south of Baltimore is where you’ll find Calvert Cliffs State Park. This 24-mile stretch of massive cliffs in Calvert County is an excellent stretch of the Maryland coast for hiking, beachcombing, and swimming. The site is one of the best-known spots on the east coast for fossil hunting.

Once you arrive at Calvert Cliffs, there are two routes to the beach. One is a short 1.8-mile hike; the other is a 3-mile service road that takes longer. If you are just here for the fossils, the shorter walk will get you to where you can scour the beach for prehistoric oyster shells, mollusks, scallops, and shark’s teeth.

Calvert Cliffs is a day-use park featuring marshland, tidal land, and 13 miles of trails.

Interesting fact: More than 600 species of fossils have been found in the cliffs at Calvert Cliffs. One of the more intriguing—a bird the size of a small plane.

2. Janes Island State Park

kayak on the beach in a state park near baltimore marylandLocation: 26280 Alfred J Lawson Dr, Crisfield, MD 21817

Janes Island State Park, a little under 3 hours south of Charm City, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is a rugged and wild state park surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay. The central portion of the park has camping, rental cabins, a marina and boat ramp, picnic areas, and pavilions.

The park’s focal point is Janes Island, 2900 acres of marshland brimming with wildlife, remote beaches, water trails, and natural beauty. Hiking, paddling, boating, fishing and crabbing, birding, and camping are popular.

Interesting fact: Janes Island has 30 miles of water trails that wind through the island’s saltmarshes. The American Canoe Association named these watery pathways one of North America’s best paddle trails.

3. Assateague State Park

wild horses on a beach at a state park near baltimore marylandLocation: 6915 Stephen Decatur Hwy, Berlin, MD 21811

Head south of Baltimore for about three hours, and you’ll find Maryland’s only oceanfront park, Assateague State Park. The park is a barrier island, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the west, Sinepuxent Bay. There are 2 miles of ocean-facing beaches for swimming, fishing, water sports, and beachcombing. Sinepuxent Bay offers many secluded inlets and coves to explore by kayak, SUP, or canoe.

Assateague State Park is home to a great variety of wildlife and is on the Atlantic Flyway, a major north-south route for migratory birds in the east. Over 200 species of birds have been sighted here. Both the island and the surrounding water are rich with flora and fauna, from the diminutive sika deer to wild ponies.

Interesting fact: The wild ponies of Assateague are indeed a sight to see. These horses are as rugged as the island itself; they’ve survived the heat, tumultuous storms, and lack of substance on this isolated and windswept spot along the Atlantic.

4. Swallow Falls State Park

waterfall in a state park near baltimoreLocation: 2470 Maple Glade Rd, Oakland, MD 21550

Three hours to the west of our featured city lies Swallow Falls State Park. The park has four waterfalls; the tallest, Muddy Creek Falls cascading down 54 feet, is also the tallest in the state.

Swallow Hills state park is home to 37 acres of old-growth forests of eastern hemlock and white pine that somehow escaped the logging that devastated most of the east coast. Some of the trees here are over 360 years old.

The park, considered the most scenic in western Maryland, has camping, fishing, hiking, and picnicking.

Interesting fact: The park was named for a rock pillar that was once the home to hundreds of nesting swallows; the swallows no longer call the park home. It’s entirely possible they picked a quieter place to nest.

5. Cunningham Falls State Park

wildflowers by a lake in a state park near baltimore marylandLocation: 14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788

Cunningham Falls State Park is located one hour south of Baltimore in the beautiful Catoctin Mountains. The park is named after scenic falls that gently descend for 78 feet over and around rocks and boulders.

Swimming, hiking, fishing, paddling, and camping are located within the William Houck Area, along with a 43-acre lake and the falls. The Manor Area features the Scales and Tales Aviary, the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace, an annual maple syrup celebration and camping sites.

Helpful tip: Even though Cunningham Falls is close to Baltimore, many phone carriers do not get cell phone service in the Catoctin Mountains. It’s best not to rely on your phone for communication in the park.