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Patapsco State Park: Swinging Bridge, Dam, and Waterfall! From 2 up to 9 Miles!

Price: $2.00 /per person

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Active Seniors Welcome!

Something for Everyone Hike in Patapsco State Park!

Swinging Bridge, Cascade Falls, and Bloedes Dam with Choices Ranging from a Newbie/Very Easy 2 Miles
Up to 9.5 Moderate Miles!

We Call This a"Something for Everyone" Hike Because You Can Choose from Several Distance and Difficulty Options for a Customized Hike!

See waterfalls, rivers, streams, upland forest, historic structures, and entire herds of deer in our groups customized hike. This is a fantastic social hike with a distance and difficulty for everyone since we have so many options in one hike without backtracking at all!

If you pause during your trek through the forest, you are likely to see rabbits, gray squirrels, beavers, white-tailed deer and red fox. Listen for the beautiful songs of warblers or the whistle of a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead. Along the banks of the river, bird watchers will spot Canada geese, green herons, kingfishers, mallards and wood ducks year-round. Although rarely seen, screech owls, barred owls, great-horned owls, kestrels and wild turkeys also inhabit the forest.

Orange Grove is one of the most scenic areas of Patapsco, once the home of the village of Orange Grove, a mill town that supported the flour mill on the Baltimore County side of the river. A swinging bridge similar to the one that spanned the river in the 1800’s and early 1900’s crosses the river today connecting guests to the popular Grist Mill Trail which we will be on for about a mile of our hike for the first let. A short walk on a path after the swinging bridge for the second leg follows along the river to the site of Bloedes Dam. Bloedes Dam was an engineering feet of the 20th century. It is the first hydroelectric dam in the U.S. where the turbines were located inside the hollow core of the dam. Today, this dam no longer generates electricity and its interior turbines have been removed.

Click here to see pictures ( from a past hike on this trail!

Weather Information
We hike rain or shine! Click here ( to see an up to the minute forecast for where we will be hiking.

Carpool Information
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!

Distance Options and Descriptions

Distance Option 1: The hike begins with a trek on a 'parts paved and parts natural' surface trails (2.5mi very easy and newbie friendly) and explores the hidden pond in the Avalon area, the swinging bridge and some interesting ruins.

Distance Option 2: The second leg is on a paved path (additional 1.25 very easy and flat miles) and takes us to the world's first internally housed hydroelectric dam, Bloedes Dam, and back for a total hiking distance of 3.75 if you end your hike after completing this leg.

Distance Option 3: The third leg (0.5 moderate miles) is out and back on a packed dirt, hilly, and rocky path leading up to Cascade Falls and is not to miss! Completing this leg will bring your total hiking mileage for this hike to 4.25 miles.

Distance Option 4: Ready to explore beyond the falls? Join us for our fourth and final leg (5.3 very moderate mile ending very near where our cars are parked) for a hike of several combined trails with several minor stream crossings (Very shallow and have stepping stones and often are not present in winter).

This brings our total hike distance to 9.55 miles if you complete all four legs of this hike!

Trail Information

Length: Varies as described above but 2.5-9.55 with three bailouts.
Trail Type: Modified Loop
Skill Level: Varies from Very Easy, paved and flat to Moderate only due to length and some rolling hills on rocky terrain.
Duration: Options ranging from 1 to about 5.5 hours depending on your options
Trailhead Elev: Options ranging from 20 feet to 300 feet depending on your options

Directions to Where We Meet for This Hike

Click Here for Directions ( to Where We Meet for this Hike

Hike Meetup Time 9:30 a.m.

Carpool meetup time at Savage Station and Ride is 9:00 a.m.

Time for carpooling from Vienna METRO is 8:30 a.m.

Carpool Time for Annapolis Area is 8:45 a.m.

Park Fee

The park has a 3.00 dollar entrance fee.

Gear Suggestions

Click here for suggestions ( for what to wear and what not to wear for our hikes.

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 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.

Please note that our holiday and holiday weekend hikes are not refundable for any reason (including switching hikes, not finding the trailhead, or carpools not working out) due to too many people backing out or changing hikes at the last minute. Sorry, but this is the only way to help make sure that there is a good turnout and our leaders not offer to lead a hike on their holiday in vein...or we will be all become burned enough that we will no longer offer them. Since we have made holiday hikes non-refundable it has boosted attendance rate significantly and often have perfect attendance. Thanks so much for your understanding and I look forward to seeing you out on the trail soon.

A Leashed Fido is Welcome on This Hike!

Let's have good times and see you on the trail!

Keith: 970.281.5579


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