Gunpowder south (blue) trail – 5.41 miles
🚘 Masemore rd. Parkville 21120 🚘
“Happiness is a long walk with a friend (- Mag in my case).”
I thought I’ll be smart coming here this morning because it’s a wonderful secret location, no one knows about. Wrong! Yes, parking is limited (less than 10 cars) but I thought we were special….
Anyway, I made it work, parking crooked and not in a real spot. Sorry.
How to get here? I83 North – Mt. Carmel exit west – turn right on Masemore road, drive about a mile until the road narrows at the stone house, parking is before the metal bridge on the right. There are some additional roadside spots after crossing the bridge as well.
I have stopped here before, years ago but never actually took on the trails. Now I feel like it was a huge mistake and precious time wasted to enjoy this beautiful location. Most men come here to fly-fish on the lazy river but we are here to hike the amazing web of trails.
There are a few small beaches on the river directly from the parking area, convenient to take some pics or to dip your doggie on a hot summer day.
We are hiking the blue trail, towards the south. We have to cross Bush Cabin run, just follow the sign for Gunpowder South trail on the right side (if you parked head in) of the small parking area.
The trail follows the river for a while, never getting too far from it. Everything is lush green with high weeds and fern. Very jungle like (to me at least but I have never been to actual jungle).
The trails’s surface is pretty rough with lots of rock fragments, roots and fallen trees. We both have to pay attention to where we step to not to fall. At several spots the river is right next to us with a 6 foot drop from the path.
While taking a picture of this huge fallen tree I haven’t noticed a beautiful 4 feet tall blue heron standing on it (look closely in the middle of the pic, right where the lighter trunk starts out from the roots) on the other side. After I was done taking the picture I have put my iPhone away to concentrate on where to step and watch Mag as well. That’s when I notice the gorgeous bird standing there about 20 feet away from us, looking puzzled. I have missed the opportunity to take a shot at it while standing there but was able to capture his flight.
The trail is pretty rough, rocks, roots, etc. and now that it’s fall with all the fallen leaves it’s getting more slippery too. We have to be careful.
When we got to this split I have checked AllTrail to see which route to take. Decided on the right side, up into the forest, to make our walk the longest possible.
I am glad I’ve chosen this hilly and beautifully dense forest path.
Mag goes crazy here for a few minutes, smelling deer stench in the air. They have to be really close, hiding in tall grass or under some bushes. The smell is unmistakable. Distracting Mag by turning left at the fork, getting to this little creek, Mingo Branch. Good opportunity for him to take a sip and cool down. The tiny rapids are beautiful to look at, cascading down in this massive rock bed.
There are a lot of crossroads on these trails, so it’s definitely a good idea to use GPS. Several times it helped me find the path I wanted to take, instead of wondering aimlessly following just my gut. Thanks to some of the marker posts every once in a while it’s a bit easier to get around. We keep following Mingo Fork trails here to the left.
Few minutes into climbing up on this moderate hill with lots of rocks and roots we notice these deer feeding post looking things. Then I remember seeing a sign out on Bunker Hill rd. (we’ll cross it in about a half a mile) for an archery range. So that’s what these are, practice posts.
When we reach the top, to our surprise, there is an outhouse. Pretty neat. There is also a small pavilion with picnic benches for the archers, I suppose.
We are keeping all the way to the top, sort of right form the other paths to make the longest loop possible passing by the pavilion. The trail here runs right next to I83 under a beautiful allée or avenue of tall trees. Unfortunately the traffic noise is pretty loud here. The scenery is still very much enjoyable and Mag takes his time to roll in the high grass as much as possible.
Another 10 minutes and we’ll get to Bunker Hill rd. It’s a very quiet road since it’s a dead end. At this point York rd. is just a stone throw away on our right with the I83 cross bridge visible. Lots of hikers, walkers, horseback riders just park here on either side of road and start their short journey from here.
We carefully cross over and disappear into the woods on the other side. The trail here heads surprisingly downhill until we get to the riverbed on the bottom.
We pretty much make a 20 minute loop into the forest from where we have crossed over Bunker Hill rd. because here we go again meeting the same road at the end of it. It finishes into a pretty nice sized paved parking lot (50 cars?).
Walking through it, heading towards the metal railing, we once again vanish into the woods. Taking advantage of the paved trail – with small speed bumps – keep heading downhill yet again. It’s wide enough for a good sized pickup truck.
The air is saturated with the smell of fallen pine needles, making me think of Christmas right away.
At the end of the winding path there is another restroom but this one looks like a gingerbread house (I know I will whistle Christmas jingles from here on).
I made the mistake to believe AllTrails that we can cross the river here and followed the smaller but still paved path to the right passing by the restrooms. Don’t be fooled! You will see a huge “bombed” bridge and this little wooden path over a creek.
After crossing the little one we had to turn back ’cause I’ve realized we are heading to east and there is no way to cross Gunpowder Falls. Later on a friend was telling me the bridge has been gone for like 20 years. The weird thing about this is, that the blue trail still goes around like we could actually get there. Well, we will but not really the safest way possible….
Finding a spot on the river where the water seems shallow enough is tricky. First I am thinking taking by boots off but looking at the mossy rocks under the water’s surface makes me change my mind. Slipping on those while I hold my boots in one hand and holding the leash in the other would be disastrous. The possibility to ruin my boots makes my face cringe but my desire to cross is deeper.
Woah. Half way over and it feels like a really stupid idea….the water comes up to my knees, Mag is pulling me in all directions and the current is surprisingly strong. We make it through though!
After dashing through tall grass and scooting under all sorts of bushes we catch the elusive blue trail again.
Following the bend of the river we come across these massive and beautiful rock walls, overlooking the lazily stretching water with pretty pebble beaches down below.
I take a few minutes on a horizontal laying dead tree to take off my boots to try to get rid of the frogs inside. No avail. They are staying for now.
Few minutes later the trail becomes more like a deer path and I can just hope that we are still on the blue trail. We cannot see the river anymore the vegetation is sky high and dense.
Thankfully it only lasts for about 10 minutes before it clears out again to at least first hear the water then even see it as well. Mag has an other opportunity to go swimming.
Even though the trail follows and unfollows the river from here on, it’s never far away and in about 20 minutes we have visual of the bridge where we’ve parked at.
After crossing it to the left – carefully watching for 4 wheeled traffic – we take refuge in “Piroska”. Throughout toweling off Mag and then getting rid off my croaking boots I make sure I have pictures of both maps. They never agree on the distance.
We are blissfully tired but I am sure we both can agree that this one of our fave trails so far.
We’ll be back soon!
Here are some extras 😉