Kilgore Falls – A must see in Maryland

It is nowhere near as high as the Angel and it is not even close to being as wide and wild as Niagara. Let’s face it, it is not even as tall as Muddy, but we love it just the same. We don’t have to travel to South America or Canada or even to far-western Garrett county to see this beautiful gift of nature. Another of the wonders of Harford County is available for our pleasure with just a short ride from most locations in the County. It is part of the Maryland Park System and is located in Rocks State Park. Of course, I am talking about the second highest free-falling waterfall in the State, Kilgore Falls or Falling Branch Falls as some call it.

Kilgore Falls is on Falling Branch Stream, a substantial creek that originates in the rocks and ravines of northern Harford County in a section called The Rocks. That area has been home to the Rocks State Park since 1951, when the State of Maryland began buying land for parks. Falling Branch Stream is a tributary of Deer Creek, which is the featured river in the park. In fact, the name of the park was originally supposed to be Deer Creek State Park. Most Marylanders, who live outside of that general area, probably have never heard of Kilgore Falls, which is a gift of the heaving and tossing of the early geological rock formations in the days when entire continents moved.  It is thought that the name Kilgore came from one of the early owners of the property, a Joseph D. Kilgore, who actually lived to the north in Delta PA, just across the line.

That area of Falling Branch Stream was private property until 1993 and the only people with the privilege of seeing this wonder of nature were the ones who owned it and maybe a few teenagers, having a party and a swim. In March of 1993, the Department of Natural Resources bought the property and made it a part of Rocks State Park. It was opened to the public in October of that same year and you can visit from 9 AM until Sunset.

The Susquehannock Indians were frequent visitors to the Falls  which they probably used for bathing. A stage-coach trail is nearby and there are the remains of old foundations from a stage-coach stop near the Falls. Swimming is permitted and the water at the bottom of the waterfall is 10 to 12 feet deep and always very cold. In 2010, Governor Martin O’Malley  purchased 130 acres of woodlands in the area of Falling Branch Stream which greatly enhances the land and stream use around Kilgore Falls.

The actual free fall of the water in Kilgore Falls is 19 feet, the second highest waterfall in Maryland. The highest waterfall in the State is Muddy Creek Falls which is in Swallow Falls State Park in Garrett, our most far-western county  The free fall on that water fall is 54 feet. Kilgore and Muddy Creek are the only free-falling waterfalls of any significance in the State, the rest are cascading, which means they fall from one level to another to make up their total waterfall height.. The highest waterfall measured in Maryland is Cunningham Falls (Cunningham Falls State Park) in northern Frederick county, which is a cascading waterfall.

The wildlands around Kilgore Falls has a large herd of White Tail Deer and there are flocks of Wild Turkey. Many Red Foxes can be seen in the area and just about every species of bird can be heard singing in the woodlands  All seasons of the year are wonderful times to explore the Falling Branch Stream area, but a trip to the Falls in the Winter when Mother Nature makes it a frozen thing of beauty, is more than worth the trip.

Another big claim to fame for Kilgore Falls is that an award-winning Disney Movie was filmed there starring Sissy Spacek, William Hurt, Alexis Bledel and Amy Irving.  The movie was made in 2002 and was called “Tuck Everlasting”. It was a lavish adaptation of  a famous children’s book of the same title, about a girl who fell in love with a boy who was part of a family of  immortals.

The Falling Branch area is located 5 miles above Rocks State Park, just stay on Route 24, through the park, if you are going north, then make a left turn on St. Mary’s Rd. Continue on St. Mary’s Rd. to Falling Branch Road on the right, which is a gravel road. That leads to a parking lot at the resident ranger’s house. From there you follow a trail for approximately half a mile to the Falls. There are no bathroom facilities or drinking water available, so be prepared.

Don Langrehr

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4 Responses to Kilgore Falls – A must see in Maryland

  1. Mike says:

    Your blog has become a really nice travelogue. We have put this on the winter schedule and are gonna make sure there will be some ice there.

  2. Brett says:

    Another piece of historical significance of Harford County’ The falls is about 5 minutes from our house and is a beautiful area. Thanks for another great article.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been to Rocks SP many, many times but I have not been here. Sounds beautiful. I will have to check it out! : )

  4. Pingback: Clear waters and falling branches – Living it.

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