Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland's oldest, dating from the creation of the Patapsco Forest Preserve in 1907 with a donation of 43 acres by John Glenn.  At that time, much of this valley known as "the river of history" had been denuded of trees in support of agriculture and various industries over the years.  With additional donations and purchases over the years, the park now encompasses about 15,000 acres and well-established second-growth forests.

The Patapsco River is 52 miles long, and 32 miles of that length lie within the boundaries of the park.  The headwaters of the Patapsco is at Parr’s Spring, a small pond on Four Corners Farm south of the intersection of I-70 and Rt. 27.  Carroll, Howard, Frederick, and Montgomery counties meet here.  The river empties into Chesapeake Bay with part of it forming Baltimore Harbor.  The exact meaning of the word Patapsco, which is of Algonquian origin, is unknown.  When Captain John Smith first explored the river in 1608, he gave it the name Bolus Flu, but by late in the 17th century it was known as the Patapsco.

Above Elkridge, the river is two to four feet deep and ten to fifty feet wide.  It falls almost 1,000 feet over its course, but about one-third of the fall is between Woodstock and Elkridge.  It is along this stretch of river that the Patapsco earned the name "river of history."

According to the new trail map which was issued in 2002, there are over 170 miles of trails within the park.  Many of them are unmaintained, but there are marked and maintained trails within the following areas: Avalon, Glen Artney, Hilton, Hollofield, McKeldin, and Orange Grove.  The most northwestern part of the park is designated as the Hugg-Thomas Wildlife Management Area.


McKeldin Area (map)

     Switchback Trail

Orange Grove-Avalon Area

    Cascade Trail

    Morning Choice Trail

    Ridge Trail

    Rockburn Branch Trail

    Valley View Trail

Hugg-Thomas WMA




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