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maryland hiking trailsTie up your boots for Maryland's trustiest trails. Fancy yourself an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman? Enjoy getting a bit dirty and sweaty during your vacation? We do, too! To help you get you and your daypacks on the top hiking trails in Maryland just a little bit sooner, we've compiled a great list:

Fort Foote Civil War Ruins

If you're a fan of historical landmarks but prefer the serenity of nature, this is the best of all Maryland's hiking trails! Honestly, where else in the world can you see archaic war guns while you enjoy a nice breeze coming through the trees? Constructed in 1863 to help solidify the ring of army strongholds around the Union capital (also known as Washington, D.C.), the fort was named after the Union Commander Andrew Hull Foote.

The hike itself (near Annapolis) is relatively easy and spans only 1.7 miles, so even the most leisurely of hikers (or geekiest of history nerds) will only need three hours maximum to complete it. This hike provides opportunities to look down the shafts of old guns, explore earthworks and bunkers, as well as enjoy a number of waterside vistas. Unfortunately, the ammo dump at the park is currently off-limits. If you're here during the early evening hours, try to time your visit to coincide with the sunset - the No. 13 point of interest provides the best spot to watch.

Located in Fort Washington, the park is a short drive from downtown Alexandria, Va., across Interstate 495 east. Take exit 2A toward Washington/National Harbor, and you'll be there in less than 3 miles.

Rachel Carson Conservation Park

You can't visit Maryland without paying a visit to the park which honors the unofficial mother of the environmental movement! Located near the city of Brookeville (southwest of Balitmore), Rachel Carson Conservation Park is one you need to prepare for - with no bathrooms or running water, this park is best for those who don't mind roughing it for a few hours.  Be sure to fill your canteens before you head out! While most trails in this park are worth a jaunt, the park's namesake trail - the Rachel Carson Greenway - provides riverside views, cool hilly basins, and thick woodlands. Don't be surprised if your visit prompts a little eco action of your own!

To get to the park, head north from Brookeville on State Route 97. You'll see the park on your left after about 2 miles of driving.

mom hiking with child

Deep Creek Lake State Park

Although this park in Deep Creek Lake may have its lake in the name, its trails are particularly noteworthy, with all three providing different levels of difficulty and sights.

Go-getters will enjoy a tromp up the strenuous clear cut trail, which is the park's most difficult. Make sure you are wearing supportive shoes for this hike, as the steep terrain on Meadow Mountain can make it very hard to gain a good foothold with worn-out tennis shoes. Be on the lookout for fallen limbs and local wildlife - deer and turkeys are often seen grazing by the path. You'll gain 2,500 feet during the process, which should take you around three hours to complete.

For a longer, less strenuous adventure, head to the 6-mile trail that leads to the Old Brant Mine site and homestead. Although this path is much longer than Meadow Mountain, the relatively even terrain makes this an easy route to complete in two to three hours. Along with the occasional ruffled grouse sighting, you'll also see a number of native wildflowers along the path (many of which can be seen around the old Brant homestead), as well as the mine and the archaic railroad ties that once served the area.

Located in the far western recesses of the state past Cumberland, the park and its hikes are easiest to access via Interstate 68 and State Route 495. Located just outside of Swanton, the park is a cool 43 miles west of Cumberland, near the West Virginia state line.