Explore the most popular kid friendly 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.

Absolutely gorgeous falls and trail! I would go again!

This was a beautiful park!

road biking
17 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.

Beautiful and peaceful!

hiking
24 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.

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

nature trips
27 days ago

This was a nice trail. It is very short so we added a couple of trail sections to it from the Old ranger Trail (blue) which made it about 2 miles. Still short but it was nice. We have had a lot of rain lately so around the pond was really muddy, but that gave us the chance to spy various animal tracks, which is one reason we went to begin with. Overall nice little walk today.

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.

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

One of the most enjoyable features of the Glen Artney area of the Patapsco is the many ways you can hike the trails here. You simply decide where you wish to park then work your loop from there. No need to just hike a boring out and back trail. There are so many connectors that you have the ability to hike a long track or cut it short. I am a local senior hiker and here weekly. Within this one area you can hike one mile or seven and loop back from where you started by simply using the Grist Mill trail if needed. If you want a custom map of the Avalon, Orange Grove, Glen Artney, Hilltop and Hilton areas contact Ken: baltoken@yahoo.com

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

Great location and trails.

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. ☺️

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.

Such a beautiful trail!

Solid trail. Well maintained. Took about 2 hours with frequent stops. I don't recommend going on a Sunday afternoon as it was very crowded. Too many families with little trail etiquette for my taste.

Gorgeous and mild, offering many opportunities to lengthen the hike with additional trails. I agree with other posters that way-marking could be better, but now that I've done it once I feel like I wouldn't get lost on a second go.

Great hike ! Crowded by falls with been bikes and dogs but it is a Sunday and pretty spring day! Lots of other trails to explore and rocks to boulder around on.

The parks are getting super crowded on weekends now. Today, there was the boy scouts camping for the weekend in the Hilton Area. The trails were very crowded and the kids were loaded up with hiking gear. The Sawmill, Santee and Forest Glen trails are the rockiest in the whole park system. These trail will connect you from the Orange Grove area to the Hilton area. Many people will hike from the Hilton area all the way to the Cascade Falls, which is located near the Swinging Bridge. If you would like a special map I created 2 years ago email me, ( baltoken@yahoo.com )

The Rockburn ( PURPLE ) loop is in my opinion the easiest section of the Avalon area. Once you have hiked up the Water Bars ( Ridge connector ) you will see the Rockburn sign. The entire loop is a well used and marked. Many bikers are always on this section but the trail is plenty wide. Its fairly level with small ups and downs. This loop would be idea for anyone just getting into hiking or mountain biking. There is no water crossings unless you hike part or all of the Hop The Snake trail ( Blue ). Part of my recording includes the New Ridge extension. It's not yet finished but much of it has been cut out already. What's not cut out has flags you can follow. I saw bikers on it today.

very nice trail overall, a little above begginer. gets pretty steep at times for novices. at two parts you have to cross little creeks walking across the rocks. a lot of people and dogs on the trail. about 2 hours out and back if you stop at the falls for 10 mins.

This weather has been un-real. Cold or Raining one day then 60's or 70's the next. If the wind didn't die down I wouldn't have left the house. The Cascade, Bike Buster and Garrett's Pass has a lot of down trees. The trails are good to go again. These trails are always well maintained. My 3-mile loop today was one long up then all down the second half. Although we got a lot of rain the day before the trails were very dry. The wind dries the trails but you need to watch for falling branches. The water was a bit deep at the stream crossings and some of the rocks you hop across at the Falls were underwater.

Now that it's getting hot out the park is becoming super crowded. During the summer months, if you don't get there by 10 in the morning you may not be able to park inside the main area. You will need to park up on S. Rolling Rd. and hike down the Soapstone Trail. It got to 80 degrees today and with no leaves on the trees it was super hot out. Remember to carry plenty of water. Although this is one of my short trails it will indeed give you a workout. Many ups and downs. They placed Spot-A-Pots at the Soapstone trailhead but the water fountain is working. I never recommend this area of trails when its raining. These trails get very muddy and being steep could be a problem for some people. I wish I could have hiked more but the heat and steep hills drained this old senior. Happy Hiking !!

This was a good loop with good variety in trail type. A couple water crossings were a bit more challenging than anticipated. But there were a lot of smaller trails that went off in different directions and weren’t on the map so sometimes staying on the trail we wanted was challenging. Be sure to watch out for bicycles, a couple came up on us fast with minimal warning.

The main Park road into the Avalon section was blocked off due to a house fire on South Rd. The water pumper truck was connected to a fire hydrant. Because that area was closed I decided to drive up to Landing Rd. and hike the Morning Choice trail section. I first planed to hike 2.8 miles but ended up hiking 4.4 miles. The Morning Choice is a long trail which is well defined and marked. If you go off that main section you well see that many other trails are NOT marked but they do connect back to the main run. Today I added the (Barley and Hops) trail which is considers as a Horse and Biker trail. I hiked this to try and create a loop without back tracking. I also added the two Connector trails to gain access to the Ridge. I added mileage. The Ridge trail is the true butt kicker. Big ups and downs !! Great Day and it was almost 80 degrees but windy as it's been for a week now.

Today the weather was great but the wind was blowing. When I got to the park there was a bike ride event going on. The staging area was at the Playground. The place was packed to the brim with bikers. Their challenge route was along the Ridge trail and looping along the Grist Mill section. Because of the event I decided to hit the highest trails in the park that were mainly foot-trails. If you want to hike the most challenge trails in the park then you need to follow this recorded track loop. It features many steep climbs, boulder scrambles, cliffs and the best views of the park. There are many hard climbs along this route but you do get breaks in between each of them. I met a lot of great people on the trail and being a senior this took me 4 hours to hike these 4 miles. It’s the Best the park has to offer. ( Be Careful and enjoy your Hike ).

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