Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park’s many popular pavilions.
The park is nationally known for its trail opportunities and scenery. We have 170 miles of trails, with 70 of those miles identified as maintained trails. There are hiker only trails and multi-use trails accessible from many areas of Patapsco.
In one of Maryland’s first state parks (1907), the valley and its natural resources have been enjoyed by the Native Americans, explorers, settlers and present-day citizens. With its source in Frederick and Carroll counties, the Patapsco serves the Port of Baltimore, and empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
The Avalon Visitor Center houses exhibits spanning over 300 years of history along the Patapsco River. Housed in a 19th century stone dwelling in the Avalon Area, the center includes a re-creation of a 1930’s forest warden’s office.
Welcome from Park Manager
Patapsco Valley State Park is an oasis in the middle of a metropolitan area. If you live in Catonsville, Elkridge, Ellicott City or Baltimore you can literally step out of your back door and be hiking a trail in Patapsco in minutes. The park is not continuous with one entrance like many State Parks. Sections of the park are scattered along the Patapsco River, and each of those areas are developed and identified for various uses and activities. Many trails connect to several areas, but most of the areas are accessed by traveling on State and County roads. For example if you camp in the Hilton campground you can travel to the Avalon, Orange Grove, or Glen Artney areas by trail or by public roads. If you camp in the Hollofield campground you must travel on public roads to get to the Avalon, Orange Grove, or Glen Artney areas.
This park is filled with opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hikers, Bikers and Horeseback riders enjoy the 170 miles of trails that run throughout the park. The river is accessible in many areas for paddling, wading, and swimming ( See information for each area regarding swimming). Fishermen can enjoy miles of river, tributary streams and ponds throughout the park. Picnic tables and Pavilions (by reservation) are available throughout the various areas of Patapsco.
For those of you who live close by, Patapsco is a quiet, lushly forested place close by to decompress, recreate, or just enjoy a babbling brook or the songs of birds. For those of you visiting from afar, it is a place to come back to at night after a day of adventure in the local area. ( Check out our listing of nearby attractions on this page), or it can be an adventure all on its own, offering opportunities for families to enjoy a quiet walk or an adrenalin filled mountain bike ride on some of our challenging trails. I invite you to check out the Amenities and Things to do sections in each of our areas on this page to help plan your next adventure at Patapsco.
I hope you find this webpage useful in planning your trip to Patapsco Valley State Park, and we look forward to seeing you on the trail, or camping, or perhaps enjoying one of our many public programs. Please remember Patapsco Valley State Park is now 100 years old, help us keep this park pristine and inviting for another 100 years by treading lightly, leaving only foot prints, and taking only pictures (Leave no Trace Principles).
We hope to see you soon!
Bloede Dam Project and Analysis
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently conducting a feasibility study to evaluate Bloede Dam's negative impact on the ecology of the Patapsco River and issues related to public safety.
The dam, located on the property of Patapsco Valley State Park, is an obstacle for fish passage, and it fragments aquatic habitat.
Bloede Dam is owned by the DNR. The Department is currently taking public comment on a report of the alternatives to address the problem.
If you would like to submit written comment, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's never too late to discover the joys of sitting around a roaring campfire, roasting marshmallows or sleeping under the stars!
With the new OPERATION: CAMPOUT! Program, we can lend you gear free of charge (includes a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more). This program is designed for military individuals and military families new to camping or experienced campers stationed or recovering in this area. OPERATION: CAMPOUT! is an opportunity for families to reconnect with each other and the great outdoors in a comfortable, safe and relaxing setting.
Campsites have picnic tables and fire pits. Some sites have electric hook-ups. Restrooms and shower facilities are nearby.
Contact the park office directly by phone to make your reservation. Be sure to let us know you are reserving through OPERATION: CAMPOUT!
Patapsco Activities E-mail Alerts
Would you like to receive weekly e-mail updates on what is happening in Patapsco Valley State Park, Soldiers Delight and Morgan Run? Sign up to receive the Patapsco Valley News. Park staff send e-mails no more than twice a week highlighting special activities occurring throughout the park. Send your e-mail address to PatapscoValley-News@dnr.state.md.us to be added to our mailing list.
Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City MD 21043
Contact Patapsco Valley
Main Office: 410-461-5005
Hours of Operation
9 a.m. to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
- B&O Railroad Museum in Ellicott City - 8 minutes (www.ecborail.org)
- Merriweather Post Pavilion - 10 minutes (www.merriweathermusic.com)
- Baltimore Inner Harbor - 30 minutes(baltimore.org)
- Orioles Baseball - 30 minutes(baltimore.orioles.mlb.com)
- Ravens Football - 30 minutes (www.baltimoreravens.com)
- National Aquarium in Baltimore - 30 minutes (www.aqua.org)
- Baltimore Zoo - 30 minutes (www.marylandzoo.org)
- B&O Railroad Museum - 30 minutes (www.borail.org)
- Maryland Science Center - 30 minutes (www.mdsci.org)
- Washington, D.C. - 60 minutes (washington.org)
Contact the Park Service
- Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
- Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
- Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
- Email Us