Explore the most popular birding trails in Patapsco Valley State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
23 hours ago

This was a good trail to hike. The stone church is a little off the main trail but it made for a nice adventure to find.

Amazing trail and absolutely beautiful. Some of the hills are steep, but overall an amazing tail.

hiking
2 days ago

I agree with the other reviews that this trail is more on the moderate end, especially if you're caught in the rain while on it like me. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath going back up. Overall a good trail, just be prepared.

Due to the weather we have had as of late, this section of the park is closed. The Avalon Loop doesn’t exist

This was a beautiful park!

hiking
14 days ago

Park closed due to flooding in May.

road biking
21 days ago

It’s a nice short ride. Perfect for after work before you catch the sun before it sets. Nice scenery riding along the lake and some historic ruins to pass by and swinging bridge.

Great hike today!!!! Dam project is underway but does not limit this hike. Grist Mill section is paved. Carried the 2 year old in the pack down and up, a few rocky seconds but we would do it again. He had a great time throwing sticks in the river and walking through the tunnel. Beware of limited parking at the Hilltop entrance, it was full even on this chilly day (Sunday) and we'll be making a DNR "donation" for unauthorized parking. We will do this one again!

Beautiful and peaceful!

Great walk along the river! Definitely download the map and keep on your GPS, because there are a few spots you might miss. There is a path/road you take at the midpoint is through a clearing and it's not marked - the grass was knee high so we almost missed it. The best part about this hike was that no one was on the trail and you can make it shorter or longer very easily.

hiking
29 days ago

Moderate hike with waterfall fairly close to beginning of trail! Definitely recommend!

Wow, It's been quite a bit since I hiked the (Original) Soapstone and Overgrown. I truly recommend using a few of the new trails. The Soapstone is the most used and muddiest trail in the Glen Artney area of the park. There is multi stream crossing and they continue to get worse because of the bikers. If you are heading up the Soapstone, turn right onto the Starstruck (Alt.) trail. It's higher and dryer !! If you are hiking the old Overgrown then be sure to spray for ticks before you go. It's really Overgrown. The new Overgrown is in better shape but it connects to the Bull Run near the Switchbacks which is the opposite side if you are heading to the Bike Jumper. The Bike Jumper is your biggest climb but the stream is a great resting spot before you head up. When you get to the fire road intersection you can shorten your trip if you head back down the Santee Branch. I basically live in the park and hiked over 400 miles last year. I created a map a few years ago of this complete area of the park. Message me at baltoken@yahoo.com for a copy.

We enjoyed this hike but would not label it hard. There were some ups and down but nothing strenuous. Like other people said, the markers are oddly placed (you get the marker before a split so we did not know to go to the left or right path). It took 2 hours to walk the loop.

Once again I have found another great way to hike the Howard County ( Elkridge side ) of the Park. I basically park at the swinging bridge because it provides you with better access to looping much of the park. I met up with a follower on All/Trail that lived in Chicago. He works for the EPA and was doing a job in Ellicott City. He hiked 3 miles of my 5 mile loop I did today with me. I shared my history of the park which he indeed enjoyed. I hike by myself all the time. I wish I could do this more often with other All/Trail members. Want Help or a special map of the area. - Message me at baltoken@yahoo.com

Ok. Very crowded. Tons of kids and bikers. Trails are pretty narrow so you literally have to move to let people pass — pretty enough but far too many people. There are most definitely not enough signs.

It was truly great to get outside after 4 days of rain. I recommend hiking the Blacktop trails or the parks River Rd. anytime after we get a lot of rain. All the other earthen trails were super muddy and the river was flood too. Give the trails a day or two to dry out. I hike up to the dam often to check on the progress of the dam removal. I think the dam will be gone by the ended of this summer when the water is it's lowest. I only did a short hike because I had tons of yard work to do when I got home. My grass needs to dry out for a bit. I plan on cutting it on high then let it dry and cut it again.

I created two new trail maps of Avalon, Orange Grove, Hilton, Hilltop, Glen Artney and Rockburn. I even made a special one for the Cascade Falls to be posted by the Swinging Bridge.
Contact me. baltoken@yahoo.com if you would like a copy.

at see we s4get oo

its a fun trail peaceful not a lot of traffic some mountain bikers but its nice pretty trail.

A little tough to start, but once you go up the first incline it turns into an awesome trail. There is a lot of graffiti on the rocks at the overlook, it is close to an access point but the view is lovely. Right now they are removing the damn so you can hear the construction off and on as you hike. We live near by so we will definitely so this trail again.

1 month ago

Park opens at 9am! I got here at 6am to start my hike but gate is CLOSED! WTF

With the temperature getting hotter be sure to carry plenty of water. Hiking along a stream makes it even better. You can dip a towel in the stream to cold off. The SAWMILL is one of my favorites because it's a main connector for traveling three sections of the Patapsco. Always enjoy the boulder hopping and cascading water along the SAWMILL. You can also sit on top of the TRAIN TUNNEL when you hike the DRUGS trail. It's a steep trail so I recommend always go Down it.

Nice walk. A lot of people and bikers on the trail.

Great location and trails.

I hiked two different locations in one day. Although it was extreme hot at the other location I got a break here. Garrett's Pass and most of the Cascade Trail was shaded and there was a nice breeze. This side of the river (in the heat - 92 Degrees ) is the best shade area up to about 2PM. I hiked ALL of both trails. Garrett's Pass is 2.6 miles just one way so I took a break at the stream up by Landing Rd. and soaked my feet in the cold stream. The last half a mile of this loop was all rocks leading to the Falls. When the Falls gets crowded I hike the bypass trail right after them. The trail goes directly down to the Restrooms. It's a steep downhill run. **** I found one baby TICK on me today. **** Start spraying !! Beware of any hanging bushes that you may bush up on during your hike.

I was done by 12 noon and it was already 90 degrees out. Be sure to carry plenty of water. I have now hiked this area many different ways. As I look at other recordings I see that people are missing the High Ridges. There is the one on the ( Backside of Daniels ) and the other is the ( Church Loop No: 1 ). Being a retire senior it's easy for me to hike during the weekdays. The parking here is now limited so beware of a crowded on weekends. The DNR closed off a large parking area we used in the pass. The canoe lot is always full so you need to park in front of the dam. The dam area has become a swimming hole and the DNR is not happy about that. Some people just can't read !!

I have hiked this loop many times. As the park becomes more and more crowded as the weather gets hotter you may want optional sections to park your car. The Santee, Branch and Nunnery trails are not as crowded as many of the others. If we get a hard rain the Santee can get muddy in spots. Today it was super warm out and this old senior started sweating. Be sure to start carrying plenty of water. If you hike with a backpack as I do, it's time to change over to a pack that doesn't lay on you back. Use a frame pack that has air flow behind it. You can also wet your bandana in the stream to cool you off.

A pretty and well maintained trail with a cute little waterfall! The hike itself is fairly easy and I was able to bring my dog. I am unfortunately giving less stars due to getting lost. This trail intersects with several bike trails and the markings are very confusing. We ended up getting a little lost and did part of a bike loop. Thankfully we were able to find our way back to the original trail. Some very friendly hikers helped point us in the right direction. ☺️

Just the best hike! Took four kids from 4-10 years old and everyone had a great hike. Beautiful to see spring rising

If you start at the Swinging Bridge your recorder may show a blank screen but the GPS is tracking you. Just tap record and go across the bridge and make a left. The maps will soon be working. Phone service doesn't work at the bridge but GPS tracks with out the map showing. - I hike this loop a few times a year. Be sure to be on the right side when you enter the tunnel at the Grist Mill trail. You can still do it from the left side but you will need to go up the Sawmill and cross the stream. I enjoy the rocky climbs on the start of the Forest Glen or the Pigs Run. The first mile is all up hill. The (White) Santee trail is basically flat with small ups and downs. The rest of the trail is quite easy.

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