Sawmill Branch Trail is an enjoyable rugged 3.2-mile round-trip hike. The trail is blazed in red most of the distance. Restrooms and drinking water are available at the trailhead. The trail begins with red markers leading through shallow woodland and skirting an open meadow before descending into a thick canopy comprised of ancient red maple. Natural beauty is found along the entire trail and in particular at an overlook found off a short spur in the beginning of the hike. Sights of the river gorge give you an idea of the area's terrain. Continue back on the main trail where Pig Run enters from the right and just beyond that, you'll begin to hear the sounds of gurgling Sawmill Branch. Stay on the main trail to cross Sawmill Branch at the railroad bridge. Grist Mill Trail bears southbound at this point. This junction is a good place for taking a break and perhaps even a cool dip. Back on the main trail, you'll hike northbound on the yellow-blazed Buzzards Rock Trail. Take it for about a mile following the high side of Sawmill. Another swimming opportunity waits at 1.3 miles. Some folks take an extended break atop one of the large boulders. It's a perfect sunning spot. Once you reach the top of the misty cascades, watch the trail carefully. Two choices, one less traveled, bring you to the same destination farther north. Still on the yellow-blazed path, do some rock hopping back over Sawmill Branch. You will come to a campground road where yellow-blazed Buzzards Rock Trail bears left making a northern loop above the campground. Red-blazed Sawmill Branch Trail bears right skirting the southern edge. Both these trails rejoin and lead back to the trailhead. Trail distance is based on taking the yellow trail north of the campground. About a quarter-mile is cut off taking the southern red-blazed route.
Directions: From Baltimore, MD, Travel Interstate 695 to U.S. Highway 40 / West Frederick Road exit. Proceed 2 miles. Turn left on South Rolling Road. Proceed a short distance turning left on Hilton Avenue. Park entrance is about half-mile on the right. After entering the park, make the first right and continue to the rear of Shelter #245 where trail begins about 100 yards down the campground road.
Elevation: 250 feet
Elevation Gain: Minimal
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Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland
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