The Patapsco Valley State Park is a long narrow park that stretches
from the southern part of the Baltimore Beltway and north along the
river, almost to Liberty Reservoir. It extends even further up the
south branch. Portions of the park are well
developed with picnic pavilions, restrooms and well-maintained trail
systems. The Orange Grove Area is one such section. This is a good
place to introduce your family to nature. The labyrinth of trails
allows one to hike as little as 1/4 mile to view a water fall or
walk more than 8 miles while hardly retracing a step. The trails are
well groomed, blazed and signed, for the most part. There are one or
2 junctions that might leave you scratching your head so please take
The hike described here is an easy 5.6 mile trek which can be expanded by adding an out and back on the south fork of the Morning Choice Tr and/or a one mile loop along the Rockburn Branch Tr.
Two notes of caution:
1) Most of the trails are open to and heavily utilized by mountain bikers. Keep a sharp eye and ear out for them.
2) These same bikers have created other trails that crisscross the official trail network. These are not signed or blazed. Avoid these trails as it is an easy way to get lost.
from US1, Washington Blvd, in Elkridge, MD:
Trail Notes: Proceed up blue blazed Cascade Falls Tr. Almost immediately the trail will split. (This trail has multiple components that can be used to make short loops.) Bear to the left, following the split rail fence.
Soon reach Cascade Falls. Cross the stream on huge boulders and climb to the top of the falls. Orange blazed Ridge Tr comes in on the left. (This is your return route.) Stay straight on the Cascade Falls Trail. You'll cross the stream three more times. Twice other components of the Cascade Falls Tr will come in from the right. Ignore them.
In about 0.6 miles from the falls and shortly after the last stream crossing turn left onto yellow blazed Morning Choice Tr. Cross gravel Norris Lane in 0.15 more miles.
In another 0.19 miles the trail joins the red blazed Old Track Tr. Bear right here, following the dual blazes for a few yards. Where the trails separate bear to the right to stay on yellow blazed Morning Choice Tr.
In another 0.18 miles come to an unsigned trail junction. The trail in all directions at this point is blazed yellow. For this hike make a sharp left turn. Soon reconnect and, nearly as quickly, disconnect from the east end of the red Old Track Tr. In another 0.29 miles (after skirting the western boundary of the Belmont Research Conference Center arrive at the junction of the Connector Tr (Marked in both yellow and orange).
| Turn right to stay on yellow blazed Morning
Choice Tr.You'll walk
along the edge of the Belmont Research Conference Center some
more before re-entering the woods. This is a good place to spot
grazing deer at dusk. In 0.86 miles from the last trail junction
arrive at purple blazed Rockburn Branch Trail (Right, Straight
and to the left). Turn left and in a short distance come to a
junction with orange blazed. Bear right, downhill on an old
After passing a trail shelter bear left onto white blazed Valley View Tr. This is a narrow sidehill footpath closed to all but foot traffic. For the next 0.75 miles you need not be concerned with mountain bikers. As you weave in and out of shallow but steep coves you'll pass the ruins of some old rental cabins that were used prior to Hurricane Agnes which greatly changed to shape and functionality of the park.
The Valley View Tr will temporarily "kiss" the orange blazed Ridge Tr. From this point follow the Ridge trail for about 1 mile to its terminus with the Cascade Falls Tr. Ignore any false trails or old roads. At the falls , descend, recross the stream and retrace your initial steps back to the car.
Hike: Patapsco Valley SP
Hike: Orange Grove