Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

Fun tunnel and then climb buzzards rock which for me was a challenge as I am not in good hiking condition! Great view of damn at top!

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.

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 !!

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 ).

Hiked this trail with my brother two summers ago. Aside from choosing an unbearably humid day, the hike was enjoyable and not too taxing. We're planning to use this section for a point to point hike from Mckeldin in to Ellicott City.

just took a short trip to the overlooks today but I'll definitely be back!

I general hike a least 3 miles in the park each time I come here. One of the loops I did today was only 2 miles so because I was in the area I decided to do this short loop. This would be a great starter loop for your kids to test out because you have the pond and stream near you to access. This would keep the kids from getting bored. Super easy trail.

Enjoyable moderate hike with a few hills, water crossings, one little waterfall. This was a beautiful spring day. My hike was about six miles. G Ood training hike

Well here I am again hiking one of my favorite loops. Being a senior I have options to controlling the distance I hike. Since November I have been dealing with Planter Fasciitis and I have good days and bad. Well I got lucky again. Looked like rain but not. I have spent a lot of time teaching people on trail how to use the All/Trails software. I truly think if you follow other All/Trails members tracks in any area you will learn a bit more about the program and the ability to see more trails. I have talked about other layers as a Pro Member. If you follow a member you would want to load their recording into your record then hike that track. The track I hike may not be on your map but the trail is there. Want Help or a special map of the area. Message me at baltoken@yahoo.com ( Notice: Dana Romano - You need to contact me. )

Moderate trail with a ton of rocks and flowing river. Very gorgeous scenery and leads right into Patapsco. A ton of other hikers and dogs.

22 days ago

This trail is nice mix of riverside flat and moderate uphill through the woods. Lots of visual surprises along the way. The trail is shared by bike riders, horse riders, and hikers. Everyone was super friendly. Was the least busy trail I’ve ever been on in the park.

24 days ago

This is a good hike, nothing spectacular. You get some pretty good views of a babbling brook, otherwise not much visual stimulation.

A few notes: one. This is NOT “Soapstone trail”! You are only on soapstone for about 1/3 of the overall time, you cross over Santee Branch, Bull Run, and others. So, the title is very misleading. If you stay on Soapstone, this would be a different hike all together.

***Also, I used 3 different apps and clocked this at average of 3.2 miles with elevation gain 530 feet

Today it was quite warm out but I and a few other people got caught in a rain storm. I recommend hiking the Blacktop trails any time the weather is calling for rain. I did have a rain jacket but no pack cover. This hike was only to check on the progress of the dam removal. As I got started the rain busted loose and I turned back to seek shelter. There was 8 people standing in the restroom hall with the same idea. As that hard rain pasted many of us got back on trail. Much of the new sewer pipe is in place. It has to be relocation before the dam can be removed. Stay off the dirt trails for one day and be kind to nature. Give them a few days to dry out. It's no fun falling in the Mud. - Need information regarding Patapsco Valley State Park or a map I created of all the trails at Avalon, Orange Grove, Hilton, Hilltop, Glen Artney and Rockburn. Contact me. baltoken@yahoo.com

Easy, short hike on a nice spring day. The trail was a little muddy from rain the day before but it wasn’t bad. The trail was well marked with multiple directions to take to get to the Falls.

If it wasn't so windy out I would have enjoyed this trip a lot better. I have just hiked three days in a row and the wind just doesn't want to quit. I hike this loop a few times a year. Be sure to be on the right side when you enter the tunnel. I enjoy the rocky climbs on the start of the Forest Glen or the Pigs Run. The (White) Santee trail is basically flat with small ups and downs. Much of the Santee was muddy two days ago but it's drying out. Now the rain is coming again. Because of the Nunnery Trail being a long stretch I always come down that way. In the summer I break for lunch up at the Hilton Area. It's always a lot less crowded there then the Swing Bridge area.
Note: If you are at the Swinging Bridge and your All/trails map done show up don't worry. Just load a track in the recorder and hit record. The Gps tracks you but the map is a bit slow in that area. So is Cell service. I don't text under I have moved from that area.

Excellent trail, with easy access.

I originally was going to head directly up Water Bars ( Ridge Sign Posted ) to the Three Sisters trail then rap around to one of the connectors then return back on the Valley View trail. You can extend this loop by simply hiking to the second (Green) connector. A bunch of people were digging and working on the NEW trail, which will be a extension of the Ridge trail which will work it's way over to the Playground. I am soon going to hike the Flagged trail to scope things out. My recent recording of that section is the right hook part of the track. Some of the trail section is completed but not open to pubic yet. I did shoot a few pictures that shows part of the NEW trails. It was Very Windy up top today.

With the weather getting nicer, the park is becoming a bit more crowded. When the park gets crowded the bulk of the people are always on the Howard County side of the park. The Swinging Bridge and Playground areas get packed. That's when I park up in the Glen Artney section. You drive thru the tunnel at the lost lake pond and go up the hill. At your first left drive up and around the loop. When you see the Santee Branch trail sign pull into the parking lot and you will see a trailhead at the fire road. This places you in a area that is rarely used. The Santee trail was a mud hole today most likely because of the recent snow melting but the Nunnery and Vineyard trails were dry as a bone.

Beautiful day out and the park got super crowded. It was so crowded the DNR was working the gate. Bikers and Hikers where everywhere. Great to see so many people out and about. I first hiked up old River Rd. to check on the dam removing progress. On my way back I decided to climb the Bike Buster trail to short cut my way to the Falls. To avoid much of the Cascade Falls trail I took the upper trails then came back down the Cascade. This way I did have to go up and back on the crowded Falls trail.

it nice during the week, get a little bit more crowded on the weekends

Nice day out but it was windy. Before hiking I fished the Lost Lake Pond for 4 hours. The DNR stock 250 trout in the pond. It was quite crowded with a bunch of us old timers. I caught 1 but other people were having better luck then me. After fishing it was time for a hike. The Soapstone trail is always muddy in many sections. It's a heavy used trail by bikers and when they cross the many feeders they are spreading the mud. The New Overgrown section and Bull Run was in fine shape. Restrooms at the Soapstone trailhead in the park is closed during the winter. You have a Spot-A-Pot at the Pond. Need a great trail map I created: email me.. baltoken@yahoo.com

Nice hike. Not too challenging. Some nice views of the river. Distance is more like 6.75 if you park in the lot by the Woodstock Inn.

1 month ago

Good loop on a beautiful afternoon. Views of the river with the sparkling sun were photo worthy.
The mill race was interesting to see. Next time I think I will go down stream to the mill. Saw hikers, runners, and a couple of bikers. It was not crowded. Trail in good shape.

1 month ago

It’s more of a moderate trail rather than easy because the walk back up is terrible

1 month ago

We took the Patapsco-Thru Trail north to Route-40 Bridge, went under the bridge, connected with Pickall Trail, stayed along the Patasco River the whole time, then went under the I-70 Bridge, until reached the Hollifield Road Bridge. 4.1 miles long each way. The trail is easy to follow and fairly leveled. 1/3 mile of the trail south of Route-40 is on a paved road (Oella Ave). It took us 3 hours to complete the 8.2-mile out&back hike.

The weather has been great ( High 50's ) for 2 days but they are calling for rain again. The park is getting more crowded and there was quite a few hikers on the trails. I am still dealing with foot pain so my speed and mileage is limited at this time. If you are a Pro member of All/Trails you may want to load the OCM layer before you hike. Garrett's Pass is an unmarked / unlisted trail and only shows up on that layer. I hiked this loop in reverse to knock out the hard climb first but there is a bunch of switchbacks that make it easy that way. ( Want a Map: baltoken@yahoo.com )

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