Explore the most popular kid friendly trails near Catonsville with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

1 day ago

TRAIL CLOSURE: Any and all trails leading to the severely damage Grist Mill trail are CLOSED. Forest Glen, Pigs Run and Nun's Run in the Hilton Tire Park Area are all CLOSED. The ONLY trail OPEN in this location is the Santee Branch Trail. I have not yet hiked the Sawmill or Buzzards Rock trail from the Hilltop section to see what's open up top.

The Santee Branch trail is a very well maintained trail which is great for Trail running, Hiking or Biking, This trail was considered as the main thru trail of the Patapsco Valley State Park. The trail is blazed in ( WHITE ) just like the Appalachian Trail (AT). There are multiple access points to this long trail. At this time, all trails breaking off of the main Santee Branch trail leading to the Grist Mill Trail are CLOSED so you can't do a loop.
The Original thru trail is 22 miles long one way. This section of the trail can be accessed from Glen Artney by the fire road or from Bull Run, The College loop, Hilton Park area. and at the top of the Hilltop parking lot. The section north of S. Hilltop Rd. is not well maintained as the lower section.

This is one of my fave Patapsco trails. It’s nice taking the Sawmill part under the train tracks and heading over to the water, but there’s always a lot of kind of gross people like swimming in the water when it’s warm out. I love going up the Buzzards portion of the trail because it’s straight uphill and a sick glute workout. I would not take my dogs on the Buzzards hill... but they are pugs and puggles. Buzzards has a few nice rock cliff situations that you can stop and have a snack on. I find this trail to be very lightly trafficked.

1 month ago

Took the family on this hike and we enjoyed it. We never saw the cover photo, however, we were able to cross a nice stream a few times. Some of the trail were a bit overgrown and not well marked. After the field we followed the well worn footpath back to our starting point. We crossed a few hikers on there way out towards the field who said their path overgrown as well. All in all a good 3 mile hike.

MESSAGE ALERT REGARDING TRAILS: Most of the Baltimore County side including The main Grist Mill trail is CLOSED. The Soapstone trail is NOW OPEN. The entire Lost Lake Pond area is blocked off. Grist Mill trail will be CLOSED for the rest of the summer. Your best option is to hike on the Howard County side of the park. Turn LEFT at the split. All trails on the Howard County side of the Park are OPEN. When entering, turn left toward the Playground. Across from the Playground parking lot is a NEW TRAIL. The Extension is The RIdge Trail. The road is OPEN up to the Swinging Bridge. ** If you need a special map I created it could help you learn the Howard County side or the entire Avalon area.. ** baltoken @ yahoo.com ( Ken )
PS: Go early or you are not getting in. Over Crowded. Only two rental pavilions are open and they need parking for them first.

MESSAGE ALERT TRAIL CLOSED: - 8/17/2018 - If you drive into the Avalon section off of Washington Blvd. Beware, All trails on the ( LEFT) Howard County side of the Park are OPEN. A few trails on the Balto. Co. side are now OPEN. The parking lot at the Lost Lake Pond is trashed from storm damage. The paved Grist Mill trail is pretty much gone. All the footbridge have washed away. The Glen Artney loop is now OPEN to vehicles The Santee Branch trail and the Soapstone trail up to S. Rolling Rd. are OPEN. Bull Run and Bike Jumper trails are OPEN.

road biking
2 months 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.

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

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.

4 months 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

5 months 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.

5 months 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.

8 months ago

not bad. was a bit boring for the kids

9 months ago

Not a bad trail.

Love doing this trail! I have been twice now. Both times with a dog and once with a baby. Great trail paved and with awesome views and experiences!

10 months ago

Neat, easy little build-your-own-hike area. The old ghost town remnants are especially cool, as is the bridge area. Moderately crowded.

Nice place to jog

11 months ago

Beautiful paved trail that runs pararell to train tracks still in use. Very nice ruins to see, an old dam and two really fun suspension bridges to cross

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My friend and I started our hike at the Lost Lake parking lot. We started out on Grist Mill Trail. This trail was entirely paved (which was a little boring), but along the way, we spotted little viewing spots of the Patapsco River, tunnels underneath the train tracks, and even a few little tunnel-like passages that while I wouldn't recommend going into, were fascinating to see. At the swinging bridge off of Grist Mill, we crossed onto the Cascade Trail, which was much more rugged. It crossed streams and waterfalls many times and had lots of opportunities to explore the surrounding areas. This hike was only about 5 or 6 miles long but one of my favorites so far.

There is no "Sandstone" Trail. There is a "Soapstone" Trail. It looks like "Sandstone" consists of Soapstone to Santee to Nunnery to Grist Mill. Where Soapstone first connects at park road, you should turn right, not left. We went left and had to double back. Where Santee meets Vineyard, we took Vineyard to Grist Mill due to lack of time. Vineyard bisects the "Sandstone" loop, more or less. Nice hike, beautiful green scenery, tall, mature, majestic trees. Path single file at times, mainly shaded. Start at Soapstone is steep; rest that we hiked was flat, slight incline, or downhill. If you drive into park, it's $3 per person in car. Some easy stream crossings. Need to pay attention to tree roots and rocks in some trail stretches.

mountain biking
Sunday, August 06, 2017

Loved it for biking. I took a 5 and 7 year old on their bikes and it was a bit too challenging for them yet, however I enjoyed it immensely on the mountain bike. For hiking it's great for kids.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

This is a moderate trail with hard aspects. Following the tracks of the course, I found it to be not well marked. I prefer moderates and hards that are well marked because they become extensively harder by trying to stay on course when they are not well marked. Such is the case of this trail. Patapsco State Park is considerably large with many cross linking trails, and some are much better marked than others. The upside is that this course is less than three miles long. Going 7 miles or longer on a poorly marked trail can be taxing when there are cross links. This course is runnable, but I suggest walking or hiking first to learn the proper turns. It was a good outing, but bothersome in having to stop, reverse, or go back to stay on course. 3.5 Stars

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Easy scenic walk with beautiful views of the river on a wide, flat, paved trail.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Short walk.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pretty crowded on a Saturday afternoon, especially near the swinging bridge, but overall a lovely, fairly easy hike.

Friday, June 02, 2017

It was Well maintained and nice hike. Went with few friends had an awesome time.

on Soapstone Trail

Thursday, June 01, 2017

This one was a workout! Definitely a "moderate" rated hike, not really a stroll through the woods. Lots of up and downs, rooted trails, cross creeks, and variations of terrain. On this Thursday I passed maybe six or seven folks throughout the whole loop during the four o'clock hour. Trails were a bit muddy in spots, two days after a rain. Sneakers were not the correct shoes to navigate through the mud; I was slipping quite a bit out there. I had to constantly watch the map on my phone, as the trail markings were not obvious in some spots. There were a lot of intersections that were not marked, so you either had to guess and backtrack, or check the map on the phone. Keep this in mind on your journey. The falls pictured on this trail's description are not seen on this loop, not sure where they are in this park.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A few parts of this loop were closed and/or overgrown. Several crossings are not well marked so we ended up doing a lot of backtracking. Ran into a few other hikers with the same problem. Would be a 4 star hike with better trail maintenance.

mountain biking
Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

We did most of this trail while veering off here and there so our hike totaled 4.86 miles, but it was a beautiful day and lots to see on the hike. It was perfect for a first hike this season as we get our bodies used to it again, fairly level and even but the easy long decline at the start was definitely an incline to get the heart pumping by on the way back!! ...and the pups loved it!!

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