Catoctin Mountain Park, Thurmont, Md.

Distance from Baltimore: 65 miles, about a 90-minute drive Why it's worth the gas: It's been the weekend destination for American presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt discovered the area's natural beauty and created the presidential retreat now known as Camp David. The park offers hiking, camping, swimming, picnicking, fishing and more. Nearby is Cunningham Falls, a 78-foot waterfall that is the largest cascading waterfall in the state -- and one of the prettiest. Don't miss: Hog Rock Nature Trail, especially in the fall when numerous sugar maples plunge visitors into a world of scarlet. Some 1,600 feet below sprawls the flaxen farmland of Monocacy Valley, speckled with the oranges and yellows and reds of pocket woods. Farmers, who once brought hogs to the base of the rock to fatten them up on the nuts of oaks and chestnuts, named the overlook. Information: Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park. Call 301-663-9388 or go to
Doug Kapustin, Baltimore Sun
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