The Patapsco River Trail is a white-blazed trail that has a number of interjected trails cut by vigorous mountain bikers. Start the trail from the park road where you'll see white blazes marking the woodland and rock entrance. This is a moderate hike that traverses a number of easy ascents and descents. The highlight of the multi-use trail is South Branch Rapids. There is even an overlook providing a wonderful photogenic view. The whitewater is very enticing, especially on a hot, humid Maryland day. However, swimming is prohibited, most likely due to industrial pollution. Interestingly, this is a good spot for viewing the statuesque blue heron. They are very common feeders along this stretch of the Patapsco River. As you hike the oftentimes-dense woodland, listen for songbirds that become apparent as traffic noise fades into the distance. Near the end of the path, a pavilion comes into view. It can be a welcome resting spot if not occupied. From here, take the park road back to the lot.
Directions: From Ellicott City, MD, Travel west along Interstate 70 several miles taking exit 83. Head north approximately 4 miles on Marriottsville Road to reach the state park entrance. Parking is available immediately after the contact station.
Elevation: 500 feet
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Distance: 4.9 miles
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Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland
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