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 Trail. 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. The orange blazed Ridge Trail 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 Trail will come in from the right. Ignore them. In 0.8 miles from the falls and shortly after the last stream crossing turn left onto yellow blazed Morning Choice Trail.
Cross gravel Norris Lane in 0.2 more miles. In another 0.2 miles the trail joins the red blazed Old Track Trail. Bear right here, following the dual blazes for a few yards. When the trails separate bear to the right to stay on yellow blazed Morning Choice Tr. In another 0.2 miles come to an unsigned trail junction. The trail goes 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 Trail. Skirt the western boundary of the Belmont Research Conference Center and in 0.3 miles arrive at the junction of the Connector Trail (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 0.9 miles from the last trail junction arrive at purple blazed Rockburn Branch Trail (Right, straight and to the left).
left and in a short distance come to a junction with the orange
blazed Ridge Trail. Bear right, downhill on an old woods road.
After passing a trail shelter bear left onto white blazed Valley
View Trail. This is a narrow side-hill footpath closed to all
but foot traffic. For the next 0.8 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. (That storm
greatly changed to shape and functionality of the park.) The
Valley View Trail will temporarily "kiss" the orange blazed
Ridge Trail (17) before ending at it in 0.3 miles. Bear right
onto the Ridge trail. In 0.2 miles the orange connector trail
you passed earlier will come in on the left. From this point
follow the Ridge trail for about 0.7 mile to its terminus with
the Cascade Falls Trail. Ignore any false trails or old roads.
At the falls, descend, re-cross the stream and retrace your
initial steps back to the car.
Hike: Patapsco Valley SP
Hike: Orange Grove