Patapsco Valley State Park: McKeldin Area: Switchback Trail: A Moderate 4 Mile Trek!
"Starting from the swift rapids of the South Branch, to the confluence of the North and South Branches and beyond, this hike follows the mood of the Patapsco River—sometimes lively, sometimes lazy. About two-thirds of the hike comes into very close contact with the river. The return is a woodland walk through a narrow hollow favored by white-tailed deer. Thanks to the topography of the area, it is possible to find solitude any time of year. The rolling landscape and cliffs provide a buffer that allows for quiet enjoyment of the stream valley." Portions from "Hiking Maryland and Delaware", second edition.
The Switchback trail begins by the contact station at the top of the hill near the entrance to the park. We will enjoy this beautiful, riverside trail for the full 4 miles. The northern part of this trail is foot-use-only. During late fall and winter, enjoy a scenic view at the Liberty Dam Overlook located at the end of the trail.
This hike will be led at a moderate pace which is that of the average hiker. About 2.5 mph.
Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Baltimore
Length: 4-5 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Moderate
Local Contacts: Patapsco Valley State Park McKeldin Area
Local Maps:USGS Ellicott City, Maryland
We hike rain or shine. Click here to see an up to the minute forecast for where we will be hiking.
If you can drive or want to carpool from any locations such as the DC area, please post your location and needs in the comment section below. Click here for suggested carpool locations complete with directions. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!
Directions to the Trailhead
Click Here for where to meet for this hike.
Hike Meetup time is at 9:30 a.m.
Monday through Friday: $2 per vehicle in-state; $4 per vehicle out-of-state. Weekends and Holidays: $3 per person in-state, $5 per person out-of-state. Admitted Free: Senior citizens 62 and older with the Golden Age Pass, people with the Access Maryland State Park Pass for persons with disabilities, members of the Maryland National Guard & all active duty military personnel who display their active military identification card.
Please remember we are a social hiking group that values fellowship and camaraderie and practice good hike etiquette. We take breaks as necessary and have at least one guide in the front in addition to a "sweeper" in the back which means that no hiker is left behind. If you get upset because someone has to rest at the top of a hill etc. then find another group! We are very supportive, encouraging, and focus on safety while getting or staying fit on the trail and practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.
Fido Is Welcome on This Hike!
Please take the hike leaders number with you just in case!
Don't forget to come visit us on Facebook
Note to Hike Leaders: There are 3 State Park maps that you can choose from for this hike: PVSP 4 area map, PVSP 5 area map, and then the best one for this hike, the Patapsco Valley State Park: McKeldin Area map, that only covers the McKeldin Area (you should have all of them as part of leader package if you lead in this area. For this hike, I highly recommend using the single area McKeldin map as it only focuses on the McKeldin area of the park so it is smaller, yet more comprehensive and easier to read than the larger complete PVSP maps although all three will work. The hike description is from the guidebook "Hiking Maryland and Delaware", second edition, hike number 30 on page 121. I have scanned the hike guide/description and it is available upon your request as a .PDF in case you do not have the book yet It is also in our Everytrail hike repository for our group and on our groups trails.com page.