Explore the most popular river 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.

TRAIL CLOSURES: - At this time, the Grist Mill Trail and any trail that leads to it is CLOSED. The Grist Mill Trail was heavily damaged due to many floods this year. - Soapstone Trail heading to S. Rolling Rd. only is OPEN but has detours. The inner Soapstone loop is CLOSED - Bull Run Loop is OPEN. - The Bike Jumper Trail is OPEN and connects to the Santee Branch Trail. - The Santee Branch Trail is OPEN from the fire road all the way to Hilltop Rd. - It's the only trail OPEN in the Hilton tire park area.
The Vineyard, Backside of Nun's, Nun Run Trails have now been closed off with a wooden fence. CLOSED for the rest of the year !!

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 trail is currently closed until further notice.

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.

The Glen Artney road up to the main trailhead of the Soapstone is NOW OPEN. The Pond area and the Grist Mill trail is shot and will be CLOSED for the rest of the summer. The stream at the Soapstone Trailhead is now about 30 feet wide. Stones have been put in place for you to cross. This section will be very bad if it's raining. There are many DETOURS on the trail right now. Due to storm damage the main section of trails is CLOSED. You now have to hike up the Alt. Soapstone ( Star Struck ) which is on the right side. The trails is in great condition but it is steeper then the original. Not very wide so beware of bikes. At the top of S. Rolling Rd. the main trail has a lot of washed out. It's CLOSED. Right now you have to return the same way you went up. Caution tape ever where !! I crossed the tape on the bypass trail and it was fine. Not sure why it was blocked off. Bull Run is OPEN but all trails connecting to the Grist Mill are CLOSED.

PS. All the INNER Soapstone trails around the restroom and Glen Artney are CLOSED.

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.

Part of this trail is closed due to construction along the river. Ended up turning back and taking a different trail to complete a shorter loop.

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.

A little tough to start, but once you go up the first incline it turns into an awesome trail. There is a lot of graffiti on the rocks at the overlook, it is close to an access point but the view is lovely. Right now they are removing the damn so you can hear the construction off and on as you hike. We live near by so we will definitely so this trail again.

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

Excellent trail, with easy access.

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.

Great hike. The falls were frozen.

8 months ago

not bad. was a bit boring for the kids

Fun trail. It got a little confusing because it wasn't marked as good as I would have expected so I ended up hiking a little extra. Beautiful trail though!

9 months ago

Not a bad trail.

What a great, beautiful trail. As other reviewers have pointed out, you can shorten this hike by parking at the start of the loop portion. We went on a rainy/misty day and it was still beautiful. Moderately trafficked, gorgeous trees in all directions as far as the eye could see. We would definitely hike this one again.

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.

Load More