Attention: ​Late opening Avalon Area of Patapsco Valley SP Saturday April 6th. Due to a special event, the Avalon Area of Patapsco Valley State park will be opening at 10 AM on Saturday April 6th. Due to the event, no vehicles will be allowed to wait at or enter the gate at South Street prior to 10 AM. If you have questions call 410-461-5005.


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Patapsco River gently winding trough rocky shores

Park Reservations
1-888-432-CAMP (2267)
Fees and Hours of Operation
Park Passes
​ ​ ​ En español

Kid inside of a log playground

Patapsco Valley State Park​
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043​

​​View the Patapsco​ Events Calendar

The Mobile visitors center

Information: 410-461-5005​​
Email Patapsco Valley State Park
9 a.m. to sunset



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.

Photo by Rob Dyke

The park is nationally known for its trail opportunities and scenery. We have over 200 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.​

A Little History​​​

Founded in 1907 as the Patapsco Forest Reserve, Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland’s oldest state park. It is the site of some of Maryland’s earliest mills and factories, America’s first common-carrier railroad and the world’s first underwater hydroelectric plant.

Catastrophic floods have damaged or destroyed many of the valley’s historic structures and sites. As you travel through the park, whether by foot, bicycle or car, keep an eye out for historic structures, sites and ruins. Wayside interpretive signs will help you discover the valley’s rich history, especially in the Avalon and Orange Grove Areas. Be sure to bring a park map with you on your journey.

Please note that on busy weekends, several park areas and trailheads close to capacity, such as the Avalon Area, Hollofield Area, and Daniels Trailhead. Be sure to arrive early if you plan to come on the weekend. If you have a large group please have all in your party arrive at the same time so that all may enter before the park closes.

​Whether you're out with the family, spending time with a special someone, or flying solo for the day there's always something new and exciting to do at Patapsco. Here are some fun activities to get into when you're here:

Details about the Park​



Patapsco Valley State Park Information

​Howard County

Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

E-mail Patapsco Valley State Park​​

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.

Hunting Policy:

  • Archery-only hunting for deer permitted on 3,760 acres of designated hunting areas with daily sign-in required – Managed Hunt Permit / free WHS permit required
  • Mercer property - Archery/Muzzleloader hunting for deer permitted on 150 acres of designated hunting areas with Managed Hunt Permit / free WHS permit/reservation required
  • Hunt from Vehicle provisions for disabled hunters

Pet Policy:

  • Pets are allowed in the Avalon, Orange Grove, Glen Artney and McKeldin Areas of Patapsco Valley State Park.
  • Pets are allowed in the day-use area of the Hilton Area. Pets are prohibited in the campground of the Hilton Area of Patapsco Valley State Park.
  • Pets are allowed in the day-use and campground areas of the Hollofield Area of Patapsco Valley State Park.
  • Pets are prohibited in the Pickall area of Patapsco Valley State Park.

Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove Areas

Hilton Area

Hollofield Area

McKeldin Area

Pickall Area

Daniels Trailhead

Critter Spotlight - The Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Fall's in full swing! As the leaves drop from the trees, this makes the season prime owl-spotting time! This month, our Critter Highlight is the Barred Owl!

Barred Owls are native to eastern North America, although their range has expanded west over time. Most of their western expansion has occurred through the rural mid portion of Canada, which features the mature woodlands that constitute their preferred habitat, along with wetland forests. Their 'barred' markings enable them to camouflage in such environments. Barred owls appear as variations of gray and brown, appearing somewhat speckled in appearance, which can make them difficult to spot against tree bark. They have a generally round shape due to their feathers, giving the impression of a more solid form, but are in fact a mid-sized owl, with the males at their biggest coming in just under 2 lbs and the females at their biggest coming in at 2.5 lbs.​

Barred owls, like many owl species, are opportunistic in their preferred prey. Most of their diet is made up of mammals, and especially mice, followed by birds.They've also been reported to prey upon reptiles like snakes and lizards, amphibians, and fish. One notable event included a barred owl surviving after consuming a toxic newt. While barred owls are not habitual fishers, at one location in Florida there have been reports of owls using a dock as a perch to fish from. Barred owls have been known to capture moths in mid-air, and even seek out human-made light sources for the purpose of hunting flying insects, although they seem to prefer ground beetles, which are likely easier to hunt. In areas where the local owls eat more crayfish, a barred owl may even turn slightly pink from their diet, much like a flamingo!

The distinctive call of the barred owl is often described as sounding like "who cooks for you?" with the 'you' extended. Barred owls have a habit of nesting near suburban areas where they find hollow trees or snags to inhabit, which means they are one of the more heard and seen of the owls of North America. They are known to call in the daytime as well as the night, and mated pairs may even call together. So this fall, as you spend more time outside, listen for one of North America's most common owls!


​ ​
Avalon History Center.

​Founded in 1907 as the Patapsco Forest Reserve, Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland’s oldest state park. It is the site of some of Maryland’s earliest mills and factories, America’s first common-carrier railroad and the world’s first underwater hydroelectric plant.

Catastrophic floods have damaged or destroyed many of the valley’s historic structures and sites. As you travel through the park, whether by foot, bicycle or car, keep an eye out for historic structures, sites and ruins. Wayside interpretive signs will help you discover the valley’s rich history, especially in the Avalon and Orange Grove Areas. Be sure to bring a park map with you on your journey.

Please note that on busy summer weekends, several park areas, such as Avalon, Orange Grove and Daniels, often fill to capacity. Be sure to arrive early if you plan to come on the weekend.

The Effects of Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972

“At the time, Agnes was the costliest hurricane to hit the U.S. in recorded history" (reports Wikipedia). The hurricane hit Florida and swept up the east coast becoming a Stropical storm” (a hurricane minus the strong winds) by the time it reached Maryland. Nineteen people lost their lives in Maryland, seven along the Patapsco River. With a floodplain of 540 square miles, the 10-14 inches of rain that fell brought an immense amount of runoff water into the Patapsco Valley. This area was the hardest hit part of Maryland, and it devastated the Patapsco Valley State Park. Old mill towns received extensive damage, Ellicott City and Oella were severely flooded, and on June 23" it was reported that the water was 40 feet higher than normal. A Relay, Md. resident reported seeing the high waters up almost to the tops of the arches of the Thomas Viaduct. (That level was very close to the level seen at the time of the “Great Flood” of 1868 when the raging waters of the Patapsco reached up to 45 feet higher than usual.) A large part of River Road got permanently washed away, more than 900 people were evacuated from their homes, and a National Guard helicopter was called in to rescue workers from the roof of the Daniels Mill. In Howard County, 704 people were left homeless. At least 80 homes in Ellicott City and 72 homes in Elkridge received damage.

Other severe flooding in this highly susceptible area had occurred in 1868, 1923, 1934, 1952, 1956, and with Tropical Storm Eloise in 1975. Even Hurricane Irene followed by Hurricane Lee in 2011 resulted in floodwaters reaching levels over the cash register drawer in the park's contact station at the entrance to the Avalon Area. Furthermore, the spring rains of 2014 brought floodwaters in Avalon again up to the cash register drawer in the contact station while powerful waters washed away part of the railroad embankment near Gun Rd. and brought rocks up to the size of basketballs through the tunnel leading to the Glen Artney Area of the park.

In 1972, main street Ellicott City looked like a virtual lake. Hundreds of thousands of trees were uprooted and washed downriver. Trucks and cars were swept away, and electric service to the area was knocked out. Roads and bridges were eliminated leaving many people stranded. More than 50 businesses in Ellicott City were damaged, and the Wilkens-Rogers flour mill on Frederick Rd. at the Ellicott City bridge incurred $50,000 in damages.

Ilchester to Elkridge was the most highly devastated area in the valley, and the hardest hit areas of the park were Orange Grove and Avalon. River Road from Ilchester Road to Orange Grove was washed away. Sections of the railroad received severe damage while the superstructure of the 1906 Bloede Dam was gone. Half of the Avalon Dam built in 1910 was eliminated, and the Patapsco River rerouted itself around the remaining section. Washed away also were picnic shelters, restrooms, park equipment, the park headquarters building, the Swinging Bridge, and Lost Lake. Electrical and water systems were uprooted and swept away as severe erosion was widespread. The sanitary sewer interceptor line running next to the river became uncovered and fractured in four places depositing millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Patapsco River. When the floodwaters receded, hundreds to thousands of bags of cake flour from the Wilkens Rogers flour mill in Ellicott City could be seen stuck up in the tree branches 30 feet or so up off the ground. Damage to the park was estimated at $2 million. Then President Nixon declared Maryland a federal disaster area which enabled federal funds to come to the most severely affected areas.

Rebuilding took many years. The Army Corps of Engineers played a huge role in the recovery efforts. For example, bulldozers were seen pushing tons of sediment from downtown Ellicott City back into the river channel. Numerous replacement and renovation projects in the park involved shelters, restrooms, playground equipment, parking lots, roadways, and much more. The Swinging Bridge was replaced (for the 64 time in history since first created in 1856). Furthermore, extensive numbers of uprooted trees and other debris deposited along the banks of the river in the park had to be removed. An overturned tanker truck washed downriver by Agnes remains today along the Grist Mill Trail as a grim memento. By the 1980's, construction projects to fully restore the park were completed, and a new park headquarters building opened on Rt. #40 at the Hollofield Area in 1984.

Edward F. Johnson
Volunteer Ranger
Patapsco Valley State Park

Who Was Fred Besley and What Did He Do?

Without him, the public would not be using and enjoying Maryland's First State Park (Patapsco Valley) and other subsequent State parks.

First of all, Mr. Fred W. Besley was Maryland's first State Forester and served longer than any other... from 1906-1942. During his tenure he inventoried every stand of trees in Maryland larger than five (5) acres. What is now Patapsco Valley State Park was originally the Patapsco Forest Preserve before 1907. Mr. Besley said, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is today."

Secondly, Fred Besley developed a successful way to fight forest fires in the early 1900's. Fires then used to consume an average of 203 acres, but his system of using volunteer "fire wardens" to fight fires reduced the average loss to only 17 acres.

Thirdly, he opened the door for the public to use and enjoy public lands for recreation and pleasure. During the 1920's, Fred Besley encouraged the public to come to Orange Grove where he camped with his family. He wanted people to experience the joy of the outdoors. Families could picnic and camp the whole summer for free as long as they obeyed campfire rules and dug their own latrines. Electricity reached those large, old tents in the 1920's for radio service, and one family even brought their piano with them.

Presently, Patapsco Valley State Park is utilized by well over a million visitors each year. They have learned that nature reduces stress, and there's much to appreciate here. Thank you, Fred Besley!

Edward F. Johnson
Volunteer Ranger
Patapsco Valley State Park

​An Enthusiastic Ally Passed Through the Patapsco Valley, But Nine of His Soldiers Drowned

At the time of the American Revolutionary War the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat, enthusiastically supported our efforts at his own request. He was a successful leader in combat and a most loyal companion to General George Washington. The Continental Congress appointed him a major general in 1777, and he co-led American forces in the successful siege of Lord Cornwallis' British armies at Yorktown.

Elkridge residents, stores, and iron forges were busy supporting the war effort with blankets, musket parts and cartridges, tents, medical supplies, and hauling cannon (on Gun Road) as troops passed through the area. The Elkridge Battalion was on alert and called to duty, also. But on the fateful day of April 19, 1781 nine (9) French soldiers met their fate, not in battle, but in the waters of the Patapsco River at Elkridge. While crossing the wide and deep waters in scows used for ferrying purposes for both men and supplies, one scow sank, and the nine men drowned. Many of Lafayette's men at that time were barefoot and dressed in ragged clothes.

By Vol Ranger Ed Johnson

Historic Sites

There are four main areas of the park where trails, historic sites and parking lots are grouped together. Each area - Avalon, Orange Grove, Hollofield and Daniels - offers unique sites and experiences. The areas as listed below follow a geographical sequence upstream.

Elk Ridge Landing and the Elk Ridge Furnace

Elk Ridge Landing, established in 1690, was a prominent colonial deep-water port, similar to Annapolis and Joppa. Prior to the establishment of Baltimore, Elk Ridge Landing was a "gateway" for shipping agricultural products, natural resources and manufactured goods from the Patapsco's many tobacco plantations. Thanks to erosion caused by deforestation, Elk Ridge Landing silted in and was no longer a serviceable port by 1868.

Elkridge was also the site of one of Maryland’s first iron furnaces: Elk Ridge Furnace. Built by Caleb Dorsey in 1755, the furnace manufactured “pig iron”-- cast iron that was worked into implements such as nails, horseshoes and shovel spades by blacksmiths. The furnace reportedly supplied cannons and ammunition during the Revolutionary War.

You can view a portion of Elk Ridge Landing at the historic Elkridge Furnace Inn restaurant. From U.S. 1 North in Elkridge, turn right on Levering Avenue. Go one block, and turn left on Main Street. Follow Main Street one block, and turn right on Furnace Avenue. Proceed down Furnace Avenue to the Furnace Inn on your left. Furnace Inn is a part of the State Park that is leased as a private inn and conference center. The buildings that make up the Elkridge Furnace Inn restaurant complex date to the early-to-mid 1800s, and only scant ruins of the furnace itself remain along the river bank. This curatorship/lease arrangement aids the state in preserving this historic building, while providing public access to this historic structure.

Elba Iron Furnace

The Elba Iron Furnace was constructed c. 1847 by three Baltimore businessmen, Eben Belknap, John Griffiths, and Ammon Cate. In 1849, Isaac Tyson, Jr. purchased the furnace and approximately 15 acres of land for $10,000 for his son James Wood Tyson. Tyson also purchased dam and water rights from James Sykes, who had a mill in the vicinity. These rights would prove to be a source, as James' wife Elizabeth Tyson noted in a letter of 1851: "The country is parched for want of rain; the river is very low, so that the furnace has to stop for two or three hours every evening after old Sykes shuts his dam off until it spills and runs over. He built a dam against all James could do who told him it was not legal and now I am only waiting to feel a decisive inconvenience from it and will sue him."

Survey No. CARR-1586
Maryland Historical Trust HISTORIC PROPERTIES

​Avalon Area

The Avalon Area consists of the Thomas Viaduct and the William Offutt Visitor’s Center, plus sites of the Avalon Iron Works, the Avalon Water Works, Camp Tydings and Lost Lake.

The Thomas Viaduct was completed in 1835 and is the world's largest multiple-arched stone railroad bridge with a curve. Built by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Thomas Viaduct makes up the first leg of the railroad’s Washington Branch. It is named for the B&O’s first president, Philip Thomas. The viaduct is located just west of the Avalon Area contact station. Enter the Avalon Area of Patapsco Valley State Park off U.S. 1 at South Street, just north of Elkridge. Proceed on Park Entrance Road to the contact station. Temporary parking is available in front of the contact station. An interpretive sign is located at the contact station. To view the bridge, carefully walk down the road to examine the Viaduct, keeping in mind the danger of the blind curve on the roadway. Please note that the viaduct is still an active railroad. Do not, under any circumstances, approach the tracks or cross the bridge.

The William Offutt Johnson History Center (formerly the William Offutt Visitor’s Center) is one of the few surviving buildings from Avalon Iron & Nail Works. Built in the 1830s, this tiny stone duplex was home to at least two families employed by the forge, which operated nearby from 1761 to 1868. The History Center is once again open to the public following a long closure to undergo renovations. Interpretive exhibit panels are located on the grounds near the Visitor’s Center. Also near the Visitor’s Center are the remnants of the Baltimore County Water and Electric Company’s water filtration plant. Also known as the Avalon Water Works, the water treatment plant supplied clean water to local communities in the early 1800s. The History Center can be reached by following the Avalon entrance road to the end, making a right at the “T” and then parking in the parking lot on the right.

Old Gun Road stone arch bridge spanned the millrace that supplied water to Avalon Water Works. The age of this bridge is unknown, but is believed to date back to either the early 19th or 20th century. The Gun Road stone arch bridge is located across from the Avalon Visitor Center parking lot.

Near park Shelter #1 are the remains of Camp Tydings, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp that operated between 1933 and 1942. The CCC was created in 1933 as part of the New Deal, and employed young men to work on environmental conservation projects, which helped shape many of the parks we still enjoy today. Following the start of World War II, the CCC camp was converted to the nation's first conscientious objectors’ camp. Shelter #1 can be reached by following the Avalon entrance road to the end, making a right at the “T” and then the next immediate left.

Lost Lake is a man-made lake that once was part of the Avalon Dam and millrace. After Tropical Storm Agnes bypassed Avalon Dam in 1972 (part of it survives on the other side of the river), a new Lost Lake was built by DNR to replace the original. It is called Lost Lake because during much of the year an algae layer covers the pond. Lost Lake is located at the end of the same road at Shelter #1 (see above), but remains closed following the flooding of Ellicott City in 2018.​

At the end of Lost Lake parking lot is the eastern terminus of the Grist Mill Trail. Along the Grist Mill Trail between Avalon and Orange Grove are the remnants of a tanker truck that was deposited on the river bank by Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.

Orange Grove Area

The Orange Grove Area consists of Swinging Bridge, ruins of the Orange Grove flour mill, and the sites of Bloede’s Dam and the Patterson Viaduct.

The Swinging Bridge spans the Patapsco River at Orange Grove, 1.6 miles northwest of Avalon, following Park Road beyond shelters 104 and 105. Previous suspension foot bridges at this location enabled residents of the Orange Grove mill town to cross the river to Baltimore County. This was especially helpful for those who worked at the C.A. Gambrill Manufacturing Company’s Orange Grove Flour Mill, which stood five stories high. Orange Grove flour was sold in white bags whose tops were string tied and whose labels proclaimed "Patapsco Superlative Flour." This mill burned down on May 1, 1905. Cross the bridge to discover ruins of this large mill site that extended from the railroad tracks to the Swinging Bridge abutment.

The site of Bloede Dam is located about a mile upstream from Orange Grove. It is believed to have been the world's first submerged electric-generating plant. Local businessman and philanthropist Victor G. Bloede and electrical engineer Otto Wonder developed this unique and experimental hydroelectric dam, which operated from 1907 until about 1930. The dam was removed in 2018 to restore passage for migratory fish. To see the dam site, follow the River Road (on foot or by bicycle) upriver beyond the Orange Grove Shelter, or follow the Grist Mill Trail (across the river) upstream.

The Patterson Viaduct was built for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1829. Named for B&O director William Patterson, the bridge spanned 375 feet with four arches. The bridge’s lifespan was relatively short; a flood swept away three of its arches in 1866. An iron bridge was built in its place until the line was bypassed in 1903. Today, the remaining abutment and arch support the “cable-stay” bridge that makes up the western terminus of the Grist Mill Trail.

Hollofield Area

The Hollofield Area consists of the Union Dam, the Union Dam Tunnel and the U.S. 40 Bridge.

The first Union Dam was built in 1810 by the Union Manufacturing Company for a cotton mill, which was located in present-day Oella, over one mile downstream. The mile-long millrace was intended to power several mills, but only powered one. The original stone and wood dam was replaced by a concrete dam in the early 1900s. Tropical Storm Agnes diverted the river around the dam in 1972. When the concrete dam was removed in 2010, remnants of the original dam were revealed. Today, you can visit the dam site by following the Union Dam Trail beyond Hollofield Shelter 300 down into the valley.

The nearby Union Dam Tunnel was built by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1902 to bypass a tight, narrow curve around around the hillside. The tunnel is on private property and is still an active railroad. Please view the tunnel from a safe distance and do not approach the tracks.

The U.S. 40 Bridge, originally called the Edmondson Avenue Extension Bridge, was built by the State Roads Commission in 1936 to carry Baltimore National Pike across the Patapsco Valley. Built of reinforced concrete, the bridge features 27 small arches overtop of a 180 foot-long gentle arch. Hollofield is named from the last owners of Ellicott’s Upper Mills, which was established in the late 18th century. A clerical error has caused the misspelling of “Hollifield” to stick and the park area today is called “Hollofield.”

Daniels Area

The Daniels Area consists of the Daniels Dam, the ruins of the towns of Daniels and Guilford and the original road bed of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

The Daniels dam once powered the mill and town of Daniels. Originally called Elysville, then Alberton, Daniels was founded in the 1840s as a textile mill. In the 1860s, the mill produced canvas tents for the Union Army. The current name, Daniels, came from the C.R. Daniels Company who took ownership of the mill in 1940. The mill company demolished much of the milltown in 1968 and Tropical Storm Agnes destroyed the mill in 1972. To visit the Daniels dam and town site in Baltimore County, take Route 29 North to its termination at Route 99, Old Frederick Road. Turn right on Old Frederick Road and proceed to the first left, which is still Old Frederick Road. Proceed about one half mile to a left on Daniels Road where you drive about one mile to a parking lot on the left and the dam will be on your left. Please note that the site of the original mill, along with the surviving James A. Gary Methodist Church, are on private property. Do not trespass.

To see the ruins of Guilford, the milltown on the Baltimore County side of the river, hike on Old Alberton Road. Guilford was built as part of the Alberton/Daniels mill town, but because it was built on the other side of the river, it had its own identity. To reach old Alberton Road, take Daniels Road back to a left on Old Frederick Road. Follow Old Frederick Road to the railroad crossing and steel bridge at the "T" intersection across the bridge where you turn left on Hollofield Road. Proceed .3 miles to a "T" intersection with Dogwood Road. Turn left over a bridge, then turn left immediately into Alberton Road. Park in the lot before the cattle gate. Proceed through the gate passed the private home on the hill. Hike the Alberton road behind the gate and along the river. Please use caution when exploring the ruins.

Much of the Old Main Line Trail west of Daniels on the Howard County site follows the original alignment of the B&O Railroad as it was laid out in 1831. It was found to be too windy, even in the 1830s, and part of this line was bypassed by a short realignment in 1838, and then completely bypassed in 1907. Bridge abutments and piers from the 1838 realignment are visible near Daniels Dam and about a half-mile upstream.

For Further Reading…

Cramm, Joetta M., A Pictorial History of Howard County, Donning Publishing, 1988.

Dilts, James W., The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation’s First Railroad, 1828-1853, Stanford University Press, 1996.

Harwood, Herber H., Impossible Challenge II: Baltimore to Washington and Harpers Ferry, 1828-1994, Barnard Roberts, Inc., 1994.

Sharp, Henry K., The Patapsco Valley, Cradle of the Industrial Revolution in Maryland, The Maryland Historical Society, 2000.

Travers, Paul J., The Patapsco: Baltimore’s River of History, Shiffer Publishing, 2016.​​​

Why They Visited the Patapsco River Valley Area

(in random order)

John Glenn (not the astronaut)…..He owned a large tract of land in Catonsville which is now the site of the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville Campus. Glenn donated the first 48 acres to the State in 1907 to preserve the Patapsco River valley, and it became Maryland’s first State Park.

Aubrey Bodine…..The renowned photographer of the Chesapeake Bay and its workers lived on Augustana Avenue in Elkridge and began his professional career as a photographer with the Baltimore Sun in 1922. The photo that got him the job was one he took of the Thomas Viaduct.

President Andrew Jackson…..He had the distinction of being the first American President to ride a train while in office as he rode the 13 miles from Ellicott’s Mills to Baltimore in 1830.

President James Polk …..He was the first president to ride a train to his inauguration and rode from Relay to Washington, D.C. in 1845.

President Abraham Lincoln…..He rode a train through Relay to his inauguration in 1861 and again in 1863 on his way to deliver his famous Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania.

Greenpeace…..Beginning in 1982, members of the ecological organization sailed up the Patapsco and fought the industrial pollution of the river. There was significant media attention to the problem. Industry was held accountable for the first time in history, and the quality of the river improved greatly. Also, the community of Oella got its first public sewage hook-up as a result.

George Herman Ruth…..”The Babe” got married in 1914 at St. Paul’s Church in Ellicott City.

Oella…..She was a textile mill worker at the Union Manufacturing Company in 1810 (later to become the Dickey Mill) and was the first woman to spin cotton in America. The community of Oella bears her name.

Captain John Smith…..In 1608 he was the first European to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay and parts of the Patapsco River. His discoveries and findings of iron ore and limestone along the banks of the river opened the door to other Europeans and the first industry in the area….iron forges.

Edward F. Johnson
Volunteer Ranger
Patapsco Valley State Park

Trail Guides and Other Activities​


Things to Do

​Whether you're out with the family, spending time with a special someone, or flying solo for the day there's always something new and exciting to do at Patapsco. Here are some fun activities to get into when you're here:

​Trail Maps


New maps of the trails at Patapsco Valley State Park can be downloaded for free from this website. Please make sure to read the printing instructions and information for how to download the file to cell phones. The map is in a PDF format that requires Adobe Reader. To get the free Adobe Reader go to



There are six unique areas of Patapsco Valley State Park, all offering a vareity of amenities and facilities. If any areas are filled to capacity, please consider visiting another one of these scenic areas.

​Avalon Area

Picnic areas, playground, paved and traditional trails, history center, Swinging Bridge, Cascade Falls
River access .1 mile from Avalon and Orange Grove parking areas

5120 South Street
Baltimore MD 21227
GPS N 3913'11.0 W 07642'18.3
Link to Google Maps

Hilton Area

Picnic areas, playground, trails, nature center, camping
River access .6 mile from main parking area
1101 Hilton Avenue
Catonsville MD 21228
GPS N 39-14'44.0 W 076-44'39.0
Link to Google Maps

Hollofield Area

Picnic areas, Park headquarters, camping
River access .3 mile from Union Dam Trail (fairly steep terrain)
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City MD 21043
GPS 39.295459 76.788858
Link to Google Maps

McKeldin Area

Picnic area, disc golf course, youth group camping, trails rapids overlook
River access .1 mile from Rapids Trail
McKeldin Area
11676 Marriottsville Road
Marriottsville MD 21104
GPS 39.35982 76.89112

Pickall Area

Picnic area by reservation only
River access limited
8125 Johnnycake Road
Woodlawn MD 21244
GPS 39.31159 76.79091
Link to Google Maps

Associated Parks

Morgan Run Natural Environment Area

River access right off parking area (Klees Mills fishing area)
726 Klees Mills Road
Westminster MD 21157
GPS 39.466653 76.970004

Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area​

Trails, visitor/education center, Scales and Tales
River access - none
5100 Deer Park Road
Owings Mills MD 21117
GPS 39.40944 76.83537
Link to Google Maps


Operation Campout

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!​


Volunteer Opportunities

Featured Volunteer – Andrew Pearman

How long have you been a volunteer?
I've been a disc golf volunteer at Patapsco since August 2020.

What do you do for employment?
Software development, but for very small company so I get to wear many hats!

How long have you lived in the area?
Over 25 years. I grew up in Eldersburg, MD and now live in Jessup.

Do you volunteer other places besides Patapsco Valley?
Not at the moment, since so much of my time is focused on the Patapsco Valley Disc Golf Club.

What is your favorite thing about Patapsco?
Easily the disc golf course and community. I love getting to play my favorite sport in a beautiful state park. The course's design is incredible and can challenge every skill level, from amateur to top-tier professional players.

What volunteer projects are you in at Patapsco?
Disc golf course maintenance and event planning. I work with Ranger Myers and other park staff to communicate maintenance needs for the course, and I help the club manage disc golf events.

Describe one of your favorite volunteer memories with Patapsco?

In May 2021 with help from Ranger Myers and Ranger Lombardi, we got stone dust out to eight tee pads to resurface them. With the help of 12 disc golf volunteers we were able to resurface the tee pads and clean up the fairways. The course looks better now than it has in years, and the Maryland disc golf community has noticed!

Why is it important for you to volunteer?
After visiting Patapsco almost every day between 2019 and 2020, I wanted to give back to the park. In 2020 I noticed a sharp increase in how many people were there to play disc golf, so I knew it was time to organize efforts to get the course back into shape. I also love to help build clubs and communities, so why not do it for my favorite pastime?

How can park visitors learn more about disc golf, or disc golf volunteering?
Come out to the park's "Open House" event on March 26, 2022 in the McKeldin Area! The Patapsco Valley Disc Golf Club will be there teaching visitors how to play.

Message from Park Manager​

Do you love the outdoors? Do you get excited about sharing your love of nature with others? Perhaps you have some spare time, and would like to share a little with our park and park visitors.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Patapsco Valley State Park. They are involved in just about every aspect of park operations. Our volunteers do so many fantastic things within the park. On any given day you can find our volunteer rangers running daily operations, and our volunteer naturalists leading hikes or doing nature crafts. Perhaps you will encounter a member of our volunteer mounted patrol while you are out on the trails, and on that very same hike you might meet our trail maintenance volunteers or even one of our Adopt-a-Trail families. Don’t be surprised to see one of our volunteer photographers snapping pictures of people and nature within the park. If you stop in our visitor center or our nature center you will more than likely meet one of our volunteer docents who will be thrilled to share interesting information about the park.

Do you think your talents are not suited for a park? We have graphic designers, marketing specialists, artists, carpenters, plumbers, stone masons and seamstresses that all have volunteered to help create brochures, build decks and benches, promote our programs to media and even sew curtains for our mini-cabins.

So if you have a little extra time to spare, I invite you to join the Patapsco volunteer family. We would love to have you as part of our team!

To search for volunteer opportunities at this state park and all of the state parks in Maryland, please click here to apply as a volunteer with Patapsco Valley and then click on opportunity search in the volunteer menu on the left side of the page.

We look forward to having you join our volunteer family!

Highlighted Opportunities

Want to Live in Nature? Leave No Trace Workshop Flyer Adopt a Garden

Volunteer Coordinator​
Patapsco Valley/Soldiers Delight/Morgan Run
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043



​Hunting Areas

Patapsco Valley State Park has 18 hunting areas located in Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, and Anne Arundel Counties.

Click on the links below for geopdfs of individual areas (not all areas have completed geopdfs).

Seasons and Bag Limits

Patapsco Valley State Park and Morgan Run NEA are open for deer hunting only. Consult the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for bag limits. The dates and days of the week hunting areas are open may vary. Dates are listed in the regulation packet for the Free Public Hunting Permit. The packet can be found here.

Hunting Devices Allowed

All areas are only open for archery deer hunting except Areas 9, 10, 11, and 17. These 4 areas allow the use of muzzleloaders during the deer muzzleloader and firearms seasons. Shotguns and rifles are not allowed on any areas of Patapsco Valley State Park or Morgan Run NEA.

Permits and Regulations

A Free Public Hunting Permit is required to hunt Patapsco Valley State Park and Morgan Run NEA. The permit may be obtained online through COMPASS or in person through the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office (410-356-9272) or Myrtle Grove Wildlife Office (301-743-5161). Call for other options.

  • Hunters must sign in at the parking areas for Areas 1-8, 12-16, and 18.
  • Daily reservations are required for Areas 9, 10, 11, and 17. Reservations are made through the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at 410-356-9272.
  • Hunters must park in designated parking areas. Some parking areas are available only for hunters and require a gate code. This code is provided with the Free Public Hunting Permit.
  • Hunters may enter the park no earlier than 1.5 hours before sunrise and must be out no later than 1.5 hours after sunset.
  • Some provisions exist for hunters with a Universal Disability Pass to hunt from vehicle at Areas 7 and 12.
  • Established trails are open year round for public use.
  • Hunters must contact Natural Resources Police at 410-260-8888 before tracking a wounded deer after hours, off State Park property, or outside of the designated hunting area.

Patapsco Valley Firsts - History Timeline​

Horseback Riding

Horse Brochure Cover

Everything You Need to Know

With over 170 miles of trails to explore, Patapsco Valley State Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Here's some information to keep in mind to ensure that you and your family stay safe while having fun.

​​ ​

What To Pack for Your Trip

  • Snacks
  • First-aid kit
  • Rain gear
  • Cell phone with GPS
  • Whistle
  • Bug spray
​ ​

Plan Ahead

Riding is allowed in all Patapsco areas. Please note, you will have more encounters with other visitors the further South you ride.

If you are planning on a large group ride, please contact us at​:​

Follow us on Twitter for events, updates, and closures.

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Park Hours

9 a.m. until sunset.
Sunset times are posted at the entrances to all areas.
You may not block the gates.

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For the most up-to-date maps, please scan the QR code below with your phone camera.

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Bring water for you and your horse.

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November 1st - April 1st
The only restrooms available are:
Avalon restroom by shelter 104.
Hilton restroom by shelter 201.
Hollofield restroom by shelter 300.
McKeldin restroom by Contact Station.

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11676 Marriottsville Rd, Marriottsville, MD
Parking in field by basketball courts.

8020 Baltimore National Pike
Parking by Park Headquarters (weekdays only).


Avalon/Orange Grove/Glen Artney
5120 South Street, Baltimore, MD
Parking along Gun Rd.

1101 Hilton Avenue, Catonsville, MD
Parking in lot by shelter 245.

The park fills early, especially on weekends and in the summer. If you are coming during peak days, please arrive early and carpool when able. Check our website in advance for park events that could limit parking.

Please clean up any horse feces in parking areas.

Horses are allowed on designated trails and roadways only.​

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Emergency and 24-Hour Contact Information

​​Emergency Assistance
​For park information or assistance,​ call the park ranger.
​Duty Ranger
443-534-1762 North
443-534-1766 South
​For 24-Hour assictance or to report a violation,
Call the Natural Resources Police

The Natural Resources Police (NRP) is the primary law enforcement agency for Maryland State Parks.

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Get Involved
410-461-5005 or scan below:

Ask about our Volunteer Mounted Patrol, our Volunteer Rangers patrolling by horseback.

See a problem on the trails? Let us know! Scan below or call 410-461-5005.

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Maryland Horse Trails

Driving Directions


Driving Directions:

From the Beltway (I-695):​ Take Rt. 40 West ( Exit 15). Follow Rt. 40 West 2 miles to the park entrance on the right.

From I-70/Rt. 29: Take Rt. 29 South ( Exit 87) to Rt. 40 East 2 miles to the park entrance on the right.​​ For addresses and driving directions see each individual Area for directions. There are no internal Park roads that connect the Areas of the park. ​​​




Patapsco Highlights

Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove

Miles of trails flow through these three distinct areas, taking the hiker on a journey that features stunning vistas, hidden treasures of the past, babbling brooks, pleasing waterfalls and a sense of wilderness that is within steps of the suburbs of Baltimore.

  • Avalon Area: Large picnic shelters, playgrounds, trails, William Offutt Johnson History Center, and access to Orange Grove and Glen Artney Areas
  • Orange Grove Area: Swinging bridge, picnic shelter and picnic sites, trails and Bloede Dam removal project
  • Glen Artney Area: Lost Lake, picnic area and trails

Click for Reservations and More Info


Daniels Trailhead

This largely undeveloped area of Patapsco is enjoyed by paddlers, anglers and hikers. Once a bustling mill town, hikers will find little treasures of the past as they walk along trails on either side of the river. This is the perfect section of the park for a quiet afternoon walk or a morning paddle as the mist floats just above the river’s glassy surface. The Daniels Dam features a display on fish spawning activity in the river and how the fish ladder works. Pets are permitted throughout the Daniels Area, but must be on a leash at all times. Please clean up after your pet.​

Around the Park!

Click the Poster to Learn More!

​​ Want to Live in Nature?


McKeldin Area Disc Golf Course

McKeldin has a nationally-known disc golf course, which provides for challenging play for disc golfers no matter their skill level.