A very nice, fairly easy mountain bike trail that offered everything I wanted--good views, well maintained trail, and enough variety to offer a challenge. Very few hikers and nearly no bikers meant I had the trail almost all to myself. Nice scenic ride...I'll definitely do it again.
My usual hiking spot is Shenandoah but I just didn't have time for the drive to and back on Saturday so I checked out this place 30 minutes from my house. I was really quite pleasantly surprised by this park. It was a great hike with everything I look for: rugged, steep trails, some great scenery and a reasonable distance from my house. Great old growth, tall trees, boulders, rapids, waterfall. It was very reminiscent of being in the Blue Ridge at some points.
Only criticism is...I'm glad I brought a map. Trails are a little confusing for a first timer. Fortunately this park is no where near as large as Shenandoah so getting lost is no big deal. I'll definitely be a frequent visitor to this park from now on.
I did the switchback trail and really enjoyed it. Great hike for the hot summer days because the tree canopy keeps things cool along the majority of the trail. Will definitely do it again. I just walked this last time but will be taking my bike next time as the trails look really fun for bikes.
Switchback is a well marked trail that offers decent elevation changes and a combination of flat sandy soil and rocky terrain. Oh, and there's horse poo to watch out for too.
The head of the trail is just downhill from the entrance where you honorably pay $2 or 3 to the park, although you will see people parking in a gravel area along Marriottsville Rd and crossing the road to enter a 'corner' of the loop. The trails in this part of Patapsco Valley Park are very well marked.
NOTE: When following the red lined map that AllTrails shows as this trail, I accidentally continued towards the road instead of following the obvious path to the left. Switchback = white blazes. It's easy!
The walk was nice and some good spots to stop for pictures. My only complaint is the trail markings are very confusing and if it wasn't for this app we would have been off course several times. Also people PLEASE TAKE YOUR TRASH OUT. My wife and I always take grocery bags in with us to clean up water bottles, beer bottles, energy drinks etc.
This is a really nice hike completely in the woods with some river exposure. I started on the trail on a narrow path across from a small non-official parking area on Marriottsville Road just across the river just before the entrance to the McKeldin Area of the Patapsco State Park on the right. The trail the narrow path leads to is the Switchback Trail and I went to the right. Not long after you've been on the trail you come to the Patapsco River on your right. You're down in the valley for a short while and then you start to ascend up a nicely cleared path with a smaller creek on your left that runs down to the river. If you bear to the right at a fork where there is a shelter on your left it takes you up to a park road and directly across is the Plantation Trail. I followed the official vehicle use only road until I came to another fork and I choose the left. It descends a bit then starts to ascend up through the woodland until you come to a shelter on the right. At that point you're on a paved asphalt road that runs along other shelters if you stay to the right and eventually you come to a ranger station on the right. If you go pass the station you'll come to three trails one of which is the Switchback Trail on your right. That takes you down to the place where I started my hike. It ends up being about 2.6 miles. I did that same loop two times in about an hour and a half clocking in at 5.1 miles. If you hear gun shots don't worry because there is a shooting range within earshot, no pun intended.
There are a ton of different trails you can take in this area. Not sure which ones the other raters took, but we took parts of Tall Poplar and Plantation Trail and it was definitely moderate. Tons of uphills and stretches where you have to walk single file. A lot of traffic too, bikes and horses, looong line to get into the park (which was $6). All in all, nothing super special.