Hill Top, Grist Mill, and Sawmill Branch Loop

moderate 57 reviews
#12 of 72 trails in

Hill Top, Grist Mill, and Sawmill Branch Loop is a 4.0 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Ellicott City, Maryland that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.0 km Elevation Gain: 90 m Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash


mountain biking

nature trips


bird watching



partially paved





As of June 2019, the new section of the Grist Mill Trail is OPEN and so is ALL the rest down to the Lost Lake Pond. - All the trees in the new section are just babies so you are in total SUN LIGHT. - During the summer be sure to carry plenty of water to drink. - The entire trail is paved in blacktop. - If you are hiking between Ilchester Rd. and the Swinging Bridge be careful crossing the section where the bridge is washing out. - Rocks have been piled up to walk across but this spot can flood during a storm. - Flood signs are posted.

22 days ago

This was a great trail and had a lot of beautiful overlooks and spots that let your imagination go back in time. Met some nice local hikers and enjoyed seeing so many people out on the trail.

8 months ago

This is a beautiful trail which includes some climbing over rock formations along a rocky creek. Unfortunately, the lower portion of this trail along the Patapsco River is closed to hikers at this time. MD DNR needs to put a sign @ the trailhead warning of the closure.

Sun Aug 26 2018

Apparently this trail is closed now due to flooding. It was a good trail. I wanted a quick bike ride after work before the sun went down, and this trail on a bike took me much less time than I thought, so maybe better for a walk than a bike until they stop construction and open up the whole trail. The trail is nice and paved though!

Fri Aug 17 2018

This trail is closed until further notice due to flood damage. PVSP Trail Crew

Sat Jun 02 2018

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!

Sun Apr 29 2018

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

Thu Mar 02 2017

Date 3/2/2017 Great hike. Best to hike this trail counterclockwise so that you can several small waterfalls.

Sat Feb 25 2017

Good hike! Several different options to make the loop a little longer. Maps are helpful

Mon Oct 31 2016

wife and I did this trail on a warmer fall day. there was one somewhat tricky spot due to the incline but overall we really enjoyed the trail.

Sun Jul 10 2016

Great trail!

Sun Jun 26 2016

buzzard rock trail (part of the loop) kicks my butt!

Fri Sep 18 2015

I've been on this trail and just about every one in this part of the park. This is a really great trail if you like a little bit of every thing the scenery is great. It does have some steep hills and the rocks can get slippery so just be careful and watch your step.I tend to like to explore and go off the if you haven't done this trail I suggest you try it.

Sun Jan 11 2015

I completed this hike in January, which made some of the sections more challenging. There was a steep rocky incline that could be more dangerous when it is icy or muddy. I also had to cross the iced over river at one section, which I would not recommend. Overall, the hike was really nice. It was not too crowded and was well marked. I would recommend printing out a map before you go. The parking lot to for the Hilton loop is located at 1101 Hilton Ave, Cantonsville, Md. Happy Hiking!

Sat Oct 26 2013

Great hike with plenty of opportunity for distance. Loved the bridges and the views of the river. Crossed over and hiked a good portion of the orange area as well. Beautiful, uncrowded (on a Friday) and clean. Recommend you print the map from DNRs website, bring water and leave young kids at home.

3 months ago

5 months ago

Sat Feb 02 2019

Fri Jun 29 2018

Sun Jun 10 2018

Thu Jun 07 2018

Sat Aug 05 2017

Thu Aug 03 2017

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