Patapsco State Park: Hilton, Orange Grove, Avalon, and Glen Artney Area:s A 10-13 Mile Easy Side of Strenuous Hike
A surprisingly rugged and remote descent into a wooded stream valley to the Patapsco River! The trail provides access to a pristine stream valley, with serene pools and small cascading waterfalls. The valley is decorated with ferns and some sections of mountain laurel. The stream valley canyon is narrow and sometimes dark. The Patapsco River flows through a piedmont stream valley with steep-sided walls. The river descends in elevation through a series of bouldery rapids through hard, erosion-resistant mica schist rock. Near the river’s edge, sycamores, box elder and other floodplain tree species predominate. The vegetation in the floodplain is constantly regrowing and can appear somewhat disturbed due to the river frequently flooding its banks. The steep-sided hills of the river valley are wooded with upland hardwood species including American Beech, tulip poplar, elm, oaks, hickory and ash in the canopy. Mountain laurel, dogwood, witch hazel, spicebush, paw paw and other shrubs comprise the understory. Numerous migratory songbirds and waterfowl frequent the river, the Sawmill Branch stream valley and its riparian habitat. Look for Belted Kingfishers and Great-blue Heron, two common avian species in the riverine habitat. Rainbow and Brown Trout are stocked in the river in the spring, but the higher water temperatures do not sustain them year-round. The rocky nature of the trail discourages many from hiking here, creating a pristine environment. The longest hill on this trek is about 300’ over about a half mile or so.
Nearby City: Ellicott City
Length: 13 total miles
Elev. Gain: 900 ft.
Trail Type: Circuit
Skill Level: Easy Side of Strenuous with three hills.
Local Contacts: Patapsco Valley State Park Hilton Area
We hike rain or shine! Click here for up to the minute weather information for the trailhead
There are 3 carpools for this hike!
Laurel Area Carpool
To carpool or caravan from the DC/Laurel metro area, meet at Savage Station. Click here for directions to Savage Station.
Annapolis Area Carpool
To carpool or caravan from the Annapolis area, meetup at the Harbour Center Mall Starbucks. Click here for Annapolis carpool directions for getting to the carpool location.
VA East Area Carpool (Fairfax Area METRO)
People can also arrange to meet at the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station. Click here for directions to Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station.
If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations, please post your location in the comment section below. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!
Directions to Trailhead
Click Here for Directions to Where We Meet for This Hike
Meet and Greet: 9:15-9:30 a.m.
Hike Step-Off Time is at 9:30 a.m.
Carpool meetup time at Savage Station and Ride is 9:00 a.m.
Time for carpooling Vienna METRO is 8:30 a.m.
Carpoool Time for Annapolis Area is 8:45 a.m.
The park has a 3.00 dollar entrance fee payable by the honor system at the gate entrance.
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 helps ensure that no hiker is left behind. If you get upset because someone has to rest at the top of a hill etc. then please 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.
A LEASHED Fido Is Welcome On This Hike!