Kilgore Falls, Maryland’s 2nd Highest Waterfall – Pylesville, MD
Kilgore Falls is Maryland’s second-highest vertical waterfall, having a 17-foot high drop (just over 5 metres). Located in Pylesville, MD in Harford County, Kilgore Falls is a great option for a day trip from Baltimore with a nice family-friendly short hike. Because of its location in the Falling Branch area of the Rocks State Park, it is also known as Falling Branch Falls. However, it is actually located on a separate 67-acre-plot of land (approximately 0.27 square kilometers) about five miles (8 kilometres) north of the main Rocks State Park.
Fun fact: Kilgore Falls is actually featured in the movie Tuck Everlasting.
Since moving to Maryland less than a year ago, I have been searching for fun activities to do in the state and ways to get to know the areas closest to me. Recently I went to DeJon Vineyards, which is also located in northern Maryland but I have been meaning to explore some Maryland waterfalls. I missed my chance last year when it started to get cold. Now that it was started to warm up and with not much else to do because of the pandemic, this seemed like a great way to get out while still practising social distancing.
Do I need a reservation?
Between March and October, the park opens at 8am while from November to February, it opens at 10am and closes at sunset all-year-round. Please double-check the Maryland Park Service website before making your trip in case of any changes.
Depending on when you choose to visit Kilgore Falls, you might need to reserve a free parking pass. Usually each year, parking passes are required to access the Falling Branch area of the state park, where the trail to the fall begins, on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and holidays between Memorial Day and Labour Day. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement for parking passes started earlier, as of May 1, to encourage social distance and limit how many people are at the park.
You can sign up for a free pass beginning on the Monday before each weekend, and choose either the morning (8am – 1pm) or afternoon (2pm – sunset) pass. Therefore, if you are planning to visit the Kilgore Falls on the weekend, you should plan ahead because you will be turned back if you show up (before 5pm) without a pass. The parking passes are per vehicle, not per person so you will only need one for each vehicle used by your group.
When signing up for the pass, it does ask for the vehicle’s license plate. If you are like me and unsure of which vehicle will be used such as if getting a rental car, it is fine to just note that instead of putting a license plate. However, please note that buses and commercial vehicles are not allowed.
Getting to Kilgore Falls from Baltimore
Driving is pretty much the only way to get to Kilgore Falls from Baltimore (as far as I’m away). I rented a car for the day and drove up there myself. The fastest route will likely take you from Baltimore City through Baltimore County before entering Harford County, where the waterfall is located. To keep it simple, I would recommend just using your preferred navigation app such as Google Maps or Apple Maps.
The drive to Kilgore Falls from Baltimore should take just under an hour without traffic. Depending on the time of year and assuming you wouldn’t be going to a waterfall during the winter, it is a very scenic drive, which includes several tree-lined roads. If you take the route that involves driving on Dulaney Valley Road, you will end up driving over the Loch Raven Reservoir, which is also an amazing sight. If you have time, I’d encourage you to stop on the bridge for a few minutes and just take in the view there as well.
The Hiking Trail, Facilities and the Kilgore Falls
There are no picnicking areas in the Falling Branch area of the Rocks State Park and grilling or fires are strictly prohibited. The only available “restroom” on the property was a porta-potty in the parking lot at the beginning of the hiking trail.
The trail from the parking lot to the waterfall is super easy so if you are not usually a hiker, you don’t have to worry about fitness level. It is suitable for persons of all ages and skill level but you should keep an eye out for any protruding tree roots. However, unfortunately, it is not wheelchair or stroller-accessible due to terrain.
It is hard to get lost trying to find the waterfall unless you are really trying. From the parking lot, the hiking trail is a single path that only takes about 10 minutes to walk to the waterfall area. Halfway through the walk, you can already hear the sound of the waterfall to let you know you’re on the right path.
When you are almost by the river, the path does split into two, though it was not very noticeable the first time I got there. One path leads into the water which is the only way I noticed at first probably because I was so ready to take a dip. The other path instead takes you up to the top of the waterfall but there’s not much to do there.
If you plan to swim, which if you’re like me that’s the point, you do so at your own risk because there is no lifeguard on duty. However, for the most part, the water area is very shallow but the rocks can be slippery and painful to walk on at times so I encourage you to wear water shoes if you have a pair. Please note that diving is highly discouraged and just very unsafe
All-in-all, I quite enjoyed my solo trek to Kilgore Falls and getting out of the house and city for the day. You can easily spend a few hours there relaxing with friends and not notice the time going by. This was the first to be crossed off my list of Maryland waterfalls and I look forward to visiting others.
Until next time,