“Patapsco State Park is an absolute gem—just minutes from Baltimore, complete with singletrack, the river, and climbs.”
— Alec James
Birding · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Main entrances to the park charge for parking. But there are many free parking areas right at various trailheads along the main roads.
Do not use after a heavy downpour or during icy conditions.
This park is where the Blair Witch Project was ACTUALLY filmed. The trails at Patapsco State Park are singletrack, less the Grist Mill Trail
, which is a paved route that takes you along the river and intersects with many trail heads. It's less than ten minutes from Baltimore, but you would never know it! Most of the year, the trails are stunning! You need to watch your footing a little. But you're out in the woods, not a rail trail.
Need to Know
There are three bathrooms along this route. One at 1.0 miles. One near 3.0 miles. And one near the end.
Most of this route is pretty easy to manage. There are a few areas where you'll either get wet crossing streams, or need to slow down to hop across the dry rocks. There are roots and rocks around, so watch your footing. Absolutely fantastic run, though!
From the Soapstone Trail
at the Park-n-Ride, head along Soapstone Trail
(purple rectangle markers on the trees) for 1.0 miles. At the parking lot, go straight towards the restroom and connect with the Santee Branch Trail
(white rectangle markers on the trees). Soon after, you'll come to a T or a Y (depending on how worn it is at any time of the year) where you'll bear left until you get to a well loved stone/gravel road. Turn right, and across the road, the Santee Branch Trail
Follow the Santee Branch Trail
until you reach Hilton Avenue. Take that road by turning left and follow the road down hill. You'll pass a playground/terrain park on your right, and then connect with another trail (Hilton Area Connector
)that will take you down and across the bridge to some steps that access the rest of the park.
You are now on Cascade Falls Trail
. Shortly after getting onto Cascade, turn left at the T and stay left (there are a few branches off of cascade that go to the right, but we'll ignore those this time) follow it until you get to waterfalls. From there, simply continue to the trail on the other side. After going up some wood/rock steps make a sharp left to get on to the Ridge Trail
, which is blazed with orange marks.
Follow Ridge Trail
until you get to the second entrance to Valley View
(marked with white blazes). Take Valley View
(or you could continue along the Ridge Trail
if you miss Valley View
—they are nearly identical) until you get to River Road. River Rd takes you to a pavilion area where there is a playground, restrooms, parking, etc.
Right at the end of the playground area, turn left onto Gun Road and cross the bridge. Shortly after that, you'll see Grist Mill Trail
pick up again to your left. Continue onto the trails again! Follow it until it takes you out to another little parking area and head very briefly to the left, until you see an archway/tunnel. Turn right up the tunnel onto the road and follow that to the first parking area you saw at the end of Soapstone Trail
. Follow Soapstone Trail
back to the parking area. DONE!
Flora & Fauna
You'll find deer here all year, at all times of the day, along with foxes, the occasional snake (in 100+ visits to this park, I've only seen one), and toads hopping like mad for a month in the summer.