Switchback Trail

EASY 207 reviews

Switchback Trail is a 3.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Marriottsville, Maryland that features a river and is good for all skill levels. 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
3.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
252 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Directions from Ellicott City, MD: Travel west along Interstate 70 several miles taking exit 83. Head north approximately 4 miles on Marriottsville Road to reach the state park entrance. Parking is available immediately after the contact station.

hiking
2 months ago

I love this trail. I recommend trying it in both directions; each one seems like a very different hike, which is somewhat unusual.

There’s lots of great trees, and the river is beautiful. It’s very easy, and is moderately trafficked.

hiking
3 months ago

Very lovely hiking area. Beware that this hike follows a few of their trails, so the marker colors will change. We walked counter clockwise on the loop and somehow got onto another path closer to the river in the last mile of the hike (which turned it into the last mile and a half of the hike). The path closer to the river had a very steep ending which was not too welcome after we had already been walking for about 4 miles. Probably easy to avoid the detour that we took, but we were so engrossed in our surroundings that we missed it.

Would totally go back, but will have to pay more attention next time.

hiking
4 months ago

McKeldin is our go-to hiking spot during the week. There are several moderate trails, most of which connect, so you could potentially spend a day here. The water areas are beautiful, and there are nice pavilions for picnicking.

hiking
4 months ago

This was a decent hike & mostly shaded, which is a plus for a summertime hike with my pup. The path started out rocky, but then the rest of it was packed dirt (easier on the pups paws). The river was beautiful as was all the greenery. The only drawbacks were the road noise & sounds of gunshots at the nearby shooting range. I felt the trail was well marked but at the end of our hike it seemed to dump us out on the paved road that runs through the park. I thought we took a wrong turn, but I think that's just how it ends! Overall an enjoyable hike!

I like this trail. Easy but nice. Beautiful nature and well maintained. Congrats the park rangers.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike. Things to watch out for - horse poop (there is A LOT) and mountain bikers (they do not slow down or stop). Had to dock a star for that and for the road noise at the beginning and end of trail and also the shooting range that must be super close because I had to duck a few times thinking I was being shot at. We walked the trail clockwise and it runs along a creek. We saw a few people riding horses and a few kids fishing. Once you get into the trail further the gun and traffic noise die down and it becomes quite pleasant with the trickle of the stream to your left. Towards the end of the trail there is an awesome waterfall. Then you hear the road noise again. Still a fun uncrowded trail that is very easy to hike.

mountain biking
5 months ago

A fun trail to ride, some sections are a bit dicey with an incredibly thin trail and margin of error. Horse traffic can be a bit tough to navigate. Overall, though, this is a nice trail for novice riders.

hiking
5 months ago

Hiked five miles there today always have fun here...some downed trees that need to be cut up but other then that its a great place to hike and bike

hiking
5 months ago

Very nice hike. It was easy for everything but the one ascent, which I would rate moderate. I am looking forward to hiking it in the Fall when the colors change and then again in the Spring when the river has some flow to it. It is shaded almost the entire way other than when you have to traverse along the road and parking lots (1/4 to 1/2 mile). The one negative is that the park doesn't open until 9:00 AM and there is only one spot outside the park that I could find to park. I am an early morning hiker, so 9:00 AM doesn't cut it. About 1/2 mile south of the park entrance, there is a pull-off that will hold 6 - 7 vehicles, depending on how everyone else parks. Directly across from the pull-off is a trail head you can't miss. Fifty feet in and you will be on the Switchback Trail. Go left (clockwise) if you want to get the 1/2 mile ascent out of the way; go right (counter-clockwise) if you want your ascent later in the hike.

backpacking
6 months ago

Nice trail system and well marked. There are 3 restrooms with water but you do have a section for 2 miles without any. The Plantation trail is all up or down pending your direction and runs for 1 1/2 miles. Anyway you look at it, you are parking on top of the Mountain. The easy trails are the ones that run along the river but getting to them is a bit of a workout. (Hikers Beware) I found 3 ticks crawling on me and the trails are not even overgrown. Maybe they are falling from the trees. I saw 2 Big Bucks down by the river near the horse trail then I saw 2 Doe with their fawns near the main parking lot as I was leaving. The sun was just going down when I left the Park.

6 months ago

Easy, scenic and not crowded.

hiking
6 months ago

maybe the most invasive species I've seen in one place. lots of mountain bikers and horseback riders.

if you go hiking here please wash your boots before you go anywhere else to hike.

hiking
6 months ago

Nice trail, very crowded on weekends.

hiking
6 months ago

I'd say it's a light moderate trail. We took our 4 kids, small dog and my mother in law. I do think it must be further than 3.8 miles. Make sure you play in the river a bit!

9 months ago

Definitely felt more like a moderate trail. Very nice, would do it again.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice walk! River, train tracks, and a cool tire park

hiking
10 months ago

Nice hike I saw some turtles and ducks.

hiking
10 months ago

Really enjoyed the trail.

birding
Monday, January 16, 2017

This was a fun trail--as others have said, not easy but an enjoyable moderate. The ranger told me that Switchback is actually 4.5 mi. Muddy and rocky in sections. If u follow the white hash marks u will not get off the trail. Saw pileated woodpecker and belted kingfisher. Less enjoyable was hearing the firing range nearby, very loud on the last 1/4 of the trail.

hiking
Sunday, January 15, 2017

It was my first time going out hiking here in Maryland, in fact it was my first time in many years. It was a nice hike but all I heard besides the streams when I was along side of it was continuous gunfire from the gun range across the way. I normally don't mind gunfire, I love to shoot my own guns from time to time, but it was non stop the entire hunt. It was a nice trail, great scenery, but I didn't see much wildlife.

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