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

TRAIL CLOSURE MESSAGE: The only section of trail that is OPEN in this feature trail is the Santee Branch Trail. All trails leading down to or connected to the Grist Mill Trail are CLOSED. The Grist Mill was badly damaged in the June 2018 Ellicott City flood. The Swinging Bridge is only open to view the river. You can't cross over from side to side. The footbridge and much of the Grist Mill trail has washed away.

Trail was great, had our credit cards stolen from our car though. Partly my fault, forgot to lock the door. Didn't take the whole purse just my girls credit cards and then a $10k shopping spree at the Arundel mall. The view of the trail was scenic and relaxing. Saw a few deer.

This is a very challenging trail system with a lot of elevation changes. - On the Elkridge County side of the Patapsco ( Howard County ) are multi trails that can be hiked in many ways. This loop could have been larger but 7 miles is enough for this old senior. There are two connector trails you can take if you wish to shorten the loop. You could also have hiked the Cascade Falls trail which is color coded ( blue ). The entire trail system is well marked and color-coded, except for Garrett's Pass but I would recommend a map as a backup. If you are biking this loop you are good to go. Bikes are not allow on the lower section directly where the falls are. You would stay on the upper Cascade and bike directly to the Ridge Trail. The only restroom and freshwater is located at the Swinging Bridge. The only other spot for water or restroom would be at the playground. You would have to go down the Water Bars or the NEW Ridge Extension trail and go to the Playground. The NEW Ridge Extension trail is right in front of the Restroom.

Once again I have found another great location to share and hike the Howard County ( Elkridge side ) of the Patapsco Park. The Park gates don't open until 9AM but by then the humidity is becoming unbearable. If you wish, you can hike earlier by driving up to Landing Rd. and parking along the side. I got there at 7:30AM and it was a bit crowded. There is two locations to park. One is for Cascade and the other is for Morning Choice Trails. The only trail that was a bit overgrown was the Barley and Hops. All the rest I looped are wide and well maintain. All the trails in this area are basically flat and easy to hike. If you park at the first location you can also hike the Rockburn side. If you want Help or a few special maps I made . - Message me at baltoken@yahoo.com

This was a beautiful park!

Ok. Very crowded. Tons of kids and bikers. Trails are pretty narrow so you literally have to move to let people pass — pretty enough but far too many people. There are most definitely not enough signs.

It was truly great to get outside after 4 days of rain. I recommend hiking the Blacktop trails or the parks River Rd. anytime after we get a lot of rain. All the other earthen trails were super muddy and the river was flood too. Give the trails a day or two to dry out. I hike up to the dam often to check on the progress of the dam removal. I think the dam will be gone by the ended of this summer when the water is it's lowest. I only did a short hike because I had tons of yard work to do when I got home. My grass needs to dry out for a bit. I plan on cutting it on high then let it dry and cut it again.

I created two new trail maps of Avalon, Orange Grove, Hilton, Hilltop, Glen Artney and Rockburn. I even made a special one for the Cascade Falls to be posted by the Swinging Bridge.
Contact me. baltoken@yahoo.com if you would like a copy.

If you start at the Swinging Bridge your recorder may show a blank screen but the GPS is tracking you. Just tap record and go across the bridge and make a left. The maps will soon be working. Phone service doesn't work at the bridge but GPS tracks with out the map showing. - I hike this loop a few times a year. Be sure to be on the right side when you enter the tunnel at the Grist Mill trail. You can still do it from the left side but you will need to go up the Sawmill and cross the stream. I enjoy the rocky climbs on the start of the Forest Glen or the Pigs Run. The first mile is all up hill. The (White) Santee trail is basically flat with small ups and downs. The rest of the trail is quite easy.

This weather has been un-real. Cold or Raining one day then 60's or 70's the next. If the wind didn't die down I wouldn't have left the house. The Cascade, Bike Buster and Garrett's Pass has a lot of down trees. The trails are good to go again. These trails are always well maintained. My 3-mile loop today was one long up then all down the second half. Although we got a lot of rain the day before the trails were very dry. The wind dries the trails but you need to watch for falling branches. The water was a bit deep at the stream crossings and some of the rocks you hop across at the Falls were underwater.

Today the weather was great but the wind was blowing. When I got to the park there was a bike ride event going on. The staging area was at the Playground. The place was packed to the brim with bikers. Their challenge route was along the Ridge trail and looping along the Grist Mill section. Because of the event I decided to hit the highest trails in the park that were mainly foot-trails. If you want to hike the most challenge trails in the park then you need to follow this recorded track loop. It features many steep climbs, boulder scrambles, cliffs and the best views of the park. There are many hard climbs along this route but you do get breaks in between each of them. I met a lot of great people on the trail and being a senior this took me 4 hours to hike these 4 miles. It’s the Best the park has to offer. ( Be Careful and enjoy your Hike ).

just took a short trip to the overlooks today but I'll definitely be back!

Beautiful day out and the park got super crowded. It was so crowded the DNR was working the gate. Bikers and Hikers where everywhere. Great to see so many people out and about. I first hiked up old River Rd. to check on the dam removing progress. On my way back I decided to climb the Bike Buster trail to short cut my way to the Falls. To avoid much of the Cascade Falls trail I took the upper trails then came back down the Cascade. This way I did have to go up and back on the crowded Falls trail.

quite muddy in some places and gps would not work at the beginning of the trail so it was a bit of guessing. but in all was a fun trail with challenges and easy spots.

Well maintained, we cut up from the train bridge underpass to Bloede's Dam Overlook and really enjoyed that steep section. Lots of fun!

this trail is easy.

Nice trail. Even though part of trail is closed due to repairs, it is a very nice area with some challenging areas. Lots of people on the weekend, though. Also an abundance of bicyclists can be a distraction. Still, worthwhile to hike.

We parked on the south side on Landing Rd—just a little pull off there. Hiked on the east side of the trail, following the river downhill. We ended up at the trail head by the bridge (scary when walking across!!) we doubled back along the creek instead of doing the whole loop. It got fairly dark by 430pm! And all uphill back was quite the burn

This hike was good but it was not what I planned. From the All Trails app I selected the Patapsco Elkridge Side loop (The Trail) and in the directions selection, I opened Google maps. I drove into the park until the roadway ended and parked in the parking lot. The only trail signs posted were the River Road Trail and the Cascade Trail. Google Maps indicated the location was 300 feet further on the left.
I hiked the distance and entered a trail where hikers were exiting. The incline was decent and when I looked at the All Trails app it indicated The Trail was located to the south. I spoke to a trail runner who said they were familiar with the area and he said the section that I came up was frequently used but not on any of the maps he had seen. He had not heard of the Patapsco Elkridge Side loop trail. I went to the south and ended up in the position that the app indicated was the Patapsco Elkridge Side loop. However it was part of the Cascade Falls Trail.
Since the app is new to me I found that I had to zoom in close to see the actual trail name which was in fact Cascade Falls Trail. As noted by Kenneth Grimm in another post, the cell service was a bit funny (intermittent especially on the west side) and cell service was lost numerous times.
Along the way I spoke to another hiker and during the conversation he said he inspects the birch trees to see what dates were in graved on them. He found a tree indicating 1945. I don’t cut into trees myself but I found that interesting and I found a marking “September 1955” see the posted picture.
As I was getting near the end of the hike I did go by the Cascade falls. To my surprise there was no one near the falls and I was able to take several photos. In the end my hiking partner got tired and planed 2.9 mile hike became 3.8 miles. But any day on the trail is a great day!
I noted the path that I took had several different trail colors and sometime two different colors together. In the picture the morning Choice trail is identified as yellow. I found another sign indicating the Ridge Trail was Blue. With the intermittent cell service I found the trail a little confusing. Next time I go to this park I will hike a trail by its official park name and use the All Trails app to help me stay on that path.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

First part of trail is paved, none of the trails are marked. But it is a nice hike.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Parts of the trail were very crowded and we had to step off the trail a few times to let mountain bikers pass by. The main trail was blazed with spray paint on nearby trees, but trails made by other hikers through the years make it a little difficult to follow in places. A lot of loud music was being played by people lounging at the river which reminded you how close to the city you actually are. Lot of good scenery and shade made the hike otherwise enjoyable.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Once you get off the Grist Mill Trail (heavily populated), this route has a nice entry point through a cool tunnel with running water that opens to rocks and trees. The trail meanders along water, has a couple rocky areas, and is peaceful amongst the trees. You may find a mountain biker or two in a couple areas, but otherwise it's lightly trafficked and really puts you in nature. You'll come across butterflies and wild berries. I took a friend here and we really enjoyed this hike.

Very steep climb at the beginning of buzzards rock as you depart the tunnel across from pigs run. Worth it for the great view of the hopefully soon to be gone dam and the nice easy stroll from about a half mile in to parking lot. Sawmill is a great option if you want to explore the pretty little rapids on the Santee branch, and the climb is more gradual.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Beautiful hike with wild flowers and waterfalls but marking are confusing. Be sure to follow AllTrails map. Watch for mountain bikers.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Beautiful hike with wild flowers and waterfalls but marking are confusing. Be sure to follow AllTrails map. Watch for mountain bikers.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

I parked on Landings Rd to access this. Somewhat limited parking at this site, but it was 32 - 36 degrees the day I went and I didn't have a problem parking. The trail is wide and well maintained. I hiked the trail this day. I started this particular loop by going counter clockwise to avoid some of the foot traffic heading to the falls. This was probably a good decision. By doing this I was able to get the hills out of the way in the beginning Be aware of all the side trails that may get you off track. The trails are blazed but it can get confusing on which route to take. I had good cell reception and used this app to navigate it. The small falls is a cool stop for lunch. It seems to be heavily visited though. Be aware of the bikes on the trail. There are lots of them, but not a huge deal. You hear them way before you see them. Biking this looks like fun. Overall this is a decent little hike worth checking out that won't cause you to drive forever to get to.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

great trail, somewhat muddy in a few spots, this is a well used trail, with a few people going all the way around, with most people sticking close to the parking area, this trail took me just 2:30 hours with my wife my son and my dog. easy enough to walk and very pleasant.
I will be back in the spring time,

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