Others have noted, and I will add my voice to theirs, that Muddy Creek must have been named by an angler intent on protecting spectacular fishing water by giving it the most boring name imaginable. After all, it conjures up visions of a slow-moving, silt filled backwater that would be the last place to fish for trout. Perhaps the name was assigned by an early settler gazing at the languid drip of the stream running across a muddy bottom as it exited the Pine Swamp complex on the West Virginia border. At that point, the creek runs through a wide valley hemmed in by Snaggy Mountain to the south and Lewis Knob to the north. While theoretically within the extent of the stocked section, there is no place to turn off the road and no DNR signage indicating that this is stocked water. Unless you want to see the muddy trickle at the top end, don’t bother to drive farther north than the Swallow Falls State Park since all the roads that could lead back to the creek are gated or posted.
The creek undergoes a dramatic transformation from muddy top to rocky bottom as it plunges over 200 feet in elevation from Cranesville Road to the Muddy Creek Falls. After paying the fee to enter the Park, pull into the lot and walk through the arch at the northeast corner to transition onto the well-developed, wide trail system that not only leads to the upper and lower Swallow Falls on the Youghiogheny River, but also to the Muddy Creek Falls and the great fishing upstream. Within a few steps of leaving the parking lot, the roar of multiple waterfalls fills the forest. Since the Muddy Creek Falls is the highest freefalling waterfall in the state, it is well worth the 10 minute diversion to throw a glance and take a picture. Continue down the wooded path to the observation platform overlooking the falls for the best view. Once you complete that cultural diversion, follow the rough, 3 foot wide path to the next bridge upstream. Your casting arm will begin to twitch as you look at a 30 to 40 foot wide free-flowing stream that runs crystal-clear over a rocky bottom. Spectacular water! Cross the bridge and use the rough fisherman’s trail that moves along the west bank of the stream to fish upstream.
Unfortunately, the trail is only good to move from point to point since dense vegetation lines both banks forcing you onto the narrow, rock lined shoreline or into the creek itself to actually fish. Exercise considerable caution when the creek is running high since American Whitewater advertises that Muddy Creek offers up a class V whitewater experience.
As you fish upstream, you are bound to wonder about how the DNR stocks the creek given the distance from traditional stocking points at bridge crossings. According to the Park Ranger I discussed this with, they use ATVs and manpower to spread the fish. In addition, the Maryland DNR teamed up with the Youghiogheny trout unlimited chapter and Garrett College to dump limestone into the stream to mitigate acid deposition in order to support a year-round fishery. The program is successful and allows the DNR to stock “put and grow” brown trout fingerlings. Therefore, in addition to the stocked fish that may have drawn you to this spot in the first place, you will end up tangling with feisty wild brown trout.
North: From Deep Creek Lake, head southwest on US 219 S/Garrett Highway. Turn right onto Mayhew Inn Road. Turn left onto Oakland Sang Run Road. Turn right onto Swallow Falls Road. After crossing the bridge over the river, turn right onto Maple Glade Road.
South: From Oakland, take MD 39 W. Turn right onto Oakland Rosedale Road. Follow it through several turns. Turn left onto Liberty Street. The name of the street changes to Herrington Manor Road. Turn right onto Swallow Falls Road. Turn left to enter the Park on Maple Glade road.
Access Point: Swallow Falls State Park (39.499206,-79.419057)
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Maryland DNR stocking plan.
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Muddy Creek Falls
Nice looking water – no mud here!
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore