Mckeldin Rapids Trail

moderate 129 reviews

Mckeldin Rapids Trail is a 16.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Marriottsville, Maryland that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 16.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,240 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly




horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching






historic site

Patapsco Valley State Park Hours: 9am - Sunset A very rewarding hike, both physically and mentally as you explore the history of these ghost towns that exist inside the state park. Start your hike from the ample parking lot with picnic shelters and restrooms. The paved road ends at the rapids overlook, and continues to our stream immersion crossing. The stream crossing is an easy one, look for the horse entry point and go up a little for an easier route. Less than knee-deep water and you are on the other side--then look for the trail and resume your journey. The trail approximately follows the railroad tracks but deviates in several sections for "mud" portages up into the hills. It crosses under a freeway road with plenty of local graffiti artists known here. Continuing along to your approximate half way point (to the cemetery and ruins) you will find two markers, one is a pipeline marker, then overhead power lines. Further down the trail you will cross over a small rail bridge, with a nice tributary fishing spot, at this point you have to cross over to the other side of the tracks and look for the trail. Pass the old car graveyard with a nice selection of very old cars. The next landmark is the dam--with a lot of artifacts in this area. Go under the rail bridge (active rail) and continue on. The rail crosses to Daniels which has an active manufacturing company located there. This is also another entry point for the hike. Past the rail bridge, you will see an old car on the left (60's blue) far off in the distance, and a Presbyterian church ruins (which is newer construction). Continuing past the church ruins, you will encounter a better road trail, and look for the trail on the left going up the hill. Continuing up this side trail look for the netted rocks which is the entry point for the St. Stanislaus Kotska Catholic Church location. The church has a small cemetery right next to it. Please do not disturb the stones as this is state protected property and is within the state park boundary. You will see the dates on the stones from 1920-1930's. St. Stanislaus Church was founded in 1879, and this stone building was erected shortly afterward. The church's priest used to skate down the river from Woodstock when the river was frozen during the winter months. The stone structure was struck by lightning in the 1920s, and a wooden structure was built nearby and used until the town of Daniels was bulldozed in the late 1960s. The two ghost towns here are named Alberton/Daniels mill town.

4 days ago

Huge park. Trails everywhere. Fun for the dogs.

18 days ago

First time on this trail, not bad. Water was too high on the most direct stream crossing in the beginning and was definitely not a good idea to go this way on the day I went. Signs direct you to go this way, so just make a good judgement call. I had to go a bit further to get a lower area and that took up some time. It also got a little confusing after the underpass, as there are many unmarked side trails and the trail merges to the white aren’t well marked. Made it to the second telephone line field before I had to turn back. Would like to go back and finish the rest!

Well maintained, scenic trail. Bike, dog, and kid friendly. Would recommend for friends, family, or solo hikes. Plenty of space and trails for everyone.

off trail
2 months ago

I went with a friend and brought my dog along. although it is currently winter and the forest floor is covered in leaves. It was still a very enjoyable hike my dog had a grand old time admiring the many baby deer we came across. We only got through half the trail but we will definitely be back!

4 months ago

Started by the rapids— lots of people, thinned out by about a mile in and then almost no one. I only did a portion (5 out, 5 back) but it was beautiful and not challenging. Most of the trail is along the River (which is gorgeous) and the trail is well maintained. If you want to go off the trail the underbrush is easy as well, sometimes I went off the main trail to be closer to the water because it was so nice. There’s a $3 honor system at the parking area— bring some cash so they can get some help continuing to make this park great!!

5 months ago

Started out on the rapids trail and had to cut across the river by walking on a fallen tree about a mile or two down the trail. It’s a small cut out on your right that you should take. Once on the other side, the trail is well marked with white and then turns in to neon yellow and white blazes. I walked the entire trail and went to see the church ruins. Was about a 19 mile round trip. Took about 6 hours. Very long day, but a wonderful experience.

5 months ago

Awesome trails many nice views. This was my first hiking experience. We started off on the blue trail (cant remember the names of the trail) then we went onto the white trail from there it switched to the orange trail, once again the white trail and then onto the red trail on our way back to the car. Really nice loop I decided to go by Yi-Shin’s recording. Some parts were muddy but through this way we saw the trail clearly no overgrowth or anything. We got to see a chipmunk and a snake.

5 months ago

Very pretty along the river. Fun crossing it. Be careful with the trails. We missed a turn and ended up bushwhacking. The trail is very overgrown for much of the length, at times almost completely disappearing under ground cover.

7 months ago

Patapsco Valley State Park - McKeldin Area Note to self, check what time the park opens before you show up at 6am and the park doesn’t open until 9am. No real good way to get to the head of the trail, no parking outside the park. No matter, decided to go to the other end since it was an out and back. No luck there. After planning this 16 mile hike I aborted and hiked the opposite side of the Patapsco. Inside Patapsco Valley State Park but outside the McKeldin Area. There is a small gravel lot at the end of Johnnycake Rd. Great hiking with an ample amount of elevation change. Lots of great things to see - waterfalls, steam crossings, walked along the train tracks and the river. There is a trail that avoids the train tracks, I’d recommend this option, the gravel along the tracks is baseball sized and loose, hard walking. There are a ton of footpaths that bisect the main trails although some are not often traveled and you have to use you imagination or in my case my alltrails inspired imagination, All in all pretty nice trail, some trails washed out.

Fri Aug 10 2018

Amazing views . Parts are challenging especially to beginners . But awesome landscapes

Sat Apr 07 2018

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.

Wed Aug 30 2017

nice hike... a lot of up hill.

Sun Aug 27 2017

(Outing performed August 6, 2017; late review, see recorded track). I actually hiked about 22 miles due to getting lost on a poorly marked trail. In the beginning the trail is well marked, but the farther you go on this 16-17 miler out n' back the less well marked it is. What happened was my GPS/smartphone's battery died out at about mile 13 -- lesson learned for me -- at a point where the trail was not well marked. With half dozen designated and undesignated intersecting trails at this point it was not good. I ended up hiking 3-4 miles the wrong way due to confusing tree markings and had to come back. Ran out of water when severe chaffing came on, and I was approaching dusk -- when the park closes. Ended up exiting not at the point I began, but about 1/2 mile removed. Lesson learned for me: hiking or trail running, any course over 12 miles on hard terrain requires a backup phone or charger, flashlight, mini first aid kit, and marking tape in case a poorly marked segment on a confusing course is encountered. When I started out, parking area was moderately full, when I finally got back, my vehicle was the only one there. Without question this was a challenging 16-mile course with stream crossings, but the poor markings almost made it a nightmare, making it a 3-star course, although I may do this trail again with better preparedness.

Wed Jun 14 2017

wooded trail along with river several good spot to take a break during walking

mountain biking
Mon May 08 2017

Super fast and rocky but overall very fun

Wed Apr 12 2017

Be sure to allow at least 8 hours. Parking near Woodstock Rd is suggested to save time.

Thu Mar 09 2017

Great trail, beautiful river. Can't wait to go back to do some more exploring!

Thu Mar 09 2017

Mon Feb 06 2017

Is this the same trail that you can park on Alberton and Daniel road. Then, keep walking past the church ruins and the Daniels Dam eventually taking you to the McKeldon area?

Tue Jan 03 2017

Love this trail. Awesome scenery

Sun Jan 01 2017

Nice series of trails, especially the rapids trail. Could use a bit more signage, but it's not hard to find your way around. Would definitely go back!

Sun Sep 11 2016

awesome trail. a bit confusing, but if you follow the white markers all the way , you'll be perfect. really beautiful. good workout!

Sun Sep 11 2016

Fun ruins.

Sat Sep 20 2014

Very poorly marked could not follow this route. Had to mix the trails into one long one. Did not get to see any of the ruins or history. Very bummed.

Sat Feb 18 2012

We had a great time in the McKeldin area. The McKeldin rapids area is great.

Sat May 14 2011

5 stars for terrific ruins and history!

17 days ago

road biking
1 month ago

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