Let's take a hike along the Patapsco River Valley and check out Cascade Falls!
The route: This is a two-part hike, returning to the meetup point between parts for a short break as needed.
• For the first part, we'll depart from the meetup point, cross to the left bank of the Patapsco River on the suspension footbridge and head upstream along the Grist Mill Trail to Ilchester Rd, recrossing the river on the Grist Mill Walking Bridge. After walking perhaps a 100 meters SW on Ilchester Rd we'll reenter the Gristmill Trail and return to our starting point on the right bank of the Patapsco River. The first part is a loop of about 2.5 miles. The trail surface on the left bank is paved and fairly level, while the right bank is mostly dirt with gentle inclines and a few rocks, roots and logs. The two suspension bridges across the Patapsco River have wooden decks supported by cables and are perhaps 50 feet above the water.
• For the second part, we'll hike SW up the Cascade Trail to Morning Choice Trail, passing Cascade Falls and making several stream crossings along the way. At Morning Choice Trail we turn SE and hike SE and NE through the woods along Morning Choice Trail, Old Track Loop, and a connector trail to the Ridge Trail, where we'll turn NW and return to our starting point along the Ridge Trail and River Rd. The second part is a loop of about 2.6 miles. The trail surface is dirt with moderate inclines and rocks, roots, logs, and several stream crossings and footbridges.
The total hike is just over 5 miles of smiles, easy to moderate difficulty, and should take about 2.5 hours to complete.
Google map: http://tinyurl.com/jgktc3q
How to get there:
• The approximate address of the parking area is 6199 River Rd, Elkridge, MD 21075. You may wish to use GPS coordinates in your nav device: GPS[masked], [masked].
• From the I-495 Capital Beltway (either direction), take exit 22A onto the Baltimore-Washington Pkwy / MD-295 N and drive NE about 18 miles. Take the exit onto I-195 W toward I-95/Catonsville and drive NW 1.9 miles. Take exit 3 to merge onto US-1 S/Washington Blvd toward Elkridge. After merging onto US-1 S take the next right onto South St, then an immediate left onto River Rd. (You'll see a Patapsco park sign.) Follow River Rd to a T-junction with Gun Rd and turn left onto Gun Rd to cross the Patapsco River. After crossing the bridge turn right as Gun Rd becomes River Rd, and follow River Rd almost 2 miles to the parking area, on your left just after passing the restrooms. See https://goo.gl/maps/wTgWsT89QgJ2
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes with some tread on them, and your furry friend if desired (leashes please). Insect repellent and sunscreen are recommended, and a poncho or whatever in case of showers. Bring your park entry fee in cash (see below).
Cost (April-October): On weekdays, $2/vehicle, out-of-state residents $4/vehicle. On weekends, $3/person, out-of-state residents $5/person. If the park entrance toll booth is unoccupied, put your entrance fees in the envelope and put the hangtag in your car window.
Weather: The forecast is overcast and a high of 66F, with a 24% chance of showers at hike start, decreasing into the afternoon. Updates here: http://tinyurl.com/zlhp7zj
Advisory: As a reminder, this is an adult group, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being during events. No one under 18 years of age is allowed at this event, either as members or as guests, to include babies in carriers and/or strollers.
Administrative stuff: There is a restroom and drinking fountains at the meetup point.
• Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043,[masked]. http://tinyurl.com/qzuj8pj
• Patapsco Valley State Park Avalon Area trail map: http://tinyurl.com/z2o7kz4
• Patapsco Valley State Park use fees: http://tinyurl.com/jfa4yzq