Patapsco Valley State Park (III) – 3.0 miles

3/7/2020 Unnamed trail following South-Branch Patapsco River to the West

Elevation gain: 223 ft

Location: 714 Marriottsville Rd. Marriottsville, MD 21104


Even though I drove by here numerous times over the years the parking area is so small we’ve just missed it. It’s also right next to the railroad in a slight left turn (coming from I70). I saw it while taking that turn but it was too late to pull in with traffic behind me. No problem….I drove up the road, turned around safely and headed back to our target. Few minutes later we’ve pulled into the empty lot.

Today’s trailhead starts out after following the tracks for about 25ft, balancing on the ballast (the rocks holding the rail-tracks in place) on the right. It takes us down to the emerald green South Branch Patapsco River right away which we will follow until Henryton Rd.

I know now – when I am writing this – that this hike will be pretty much uneventful, so there will be lot more pictures than words.

It’s just us and nature for the most part. I spotted a cave on the other side though.

Gray fungus with budding wild rose

River view with the railroad tracks as backdrop

Stretching giants

This trail just like others we’ve discovered around here, is sandwiched between the former B&O Railroad and Patapsco River. It’s windy but thankfully sunny, perfect for hiking/walking. A big tree down on the trail distracts my train (pun intended) of thoughts.

While maneuvering around it I notice Spring on a few delicate branches.

Since we had several rain storms throughout the winter months the trail is pretty muddy but not unmanageable. The surrounding grasses are also wet and heavy.

Where there is an opportunity to walk down to the beach we always do. Took this Pano at the edge….and some others as close to the water as possible. Sometimes a wish I could put a GoPro on Mag.

Climbing through all the pebbles to another beach revealed a bridge and with that the shift of the trail.

We had to cross the tracks….

….and even though the trail has no visible presence we head down to the river to worship nature.

We descend to another beach where we get a better view of the bridge. On this side it’s covered with trashy driftwood making the river slow down as it takes a break. Something catches Mag’s interest on the hill across, even though I don’t see anything. He tries to climb on a huge tree in the middle of the water but falls back, making me laugh.

Checking AllTrails again it turns out that we’ve missed the trail yet again since it crossed over the bridge and continued across the river. Well….that’s not gonna slow us down. I’ve decided to follow the river instead and catch up with our trail at the already mentioned Henryton Rd. I can actually see a sort of unofficial trail here which leads us to a sweet little spot….youngsters always know how to have fun. I don’t understand why we forget as we get older.

Following the band is a bit challenging but worth it. We also catch up to another trail, possibly made by the people who come here to have fun on those ropes.

Our next stop is in clearly a flood plain which I still call the beach, just ’cause it sounds nicer. Even though I am not a water baby there is just something about rivers.

There’s a huge fallen tree here with the roots still in the water….and it’s flowering. Such lovely surprise with the red punch of color.

Keep walking next to the river on this “invisible” trail we finally get to Henryton Rd. and this demolished/broken bridge. We sit down for a few to take in the surroundings.

At the end of the road there is some parking – have two cars here – so it’s possible to start your journey from here.

On our left we find the trailhead yet again.

It’s uphill from here a bit and since Mag caught a whiff of something he is pulling me up. When I spot this….

….I know what made him crazy. He knows they are ahead of us.

We do meet up with them in a huge left bend and I make a mistake putting Mag up on a huge boulder. Not knowing that horses are naturally afraid of things approaching from above. Even though he is sitting patiently, looking at those “big dogs”, I’ve learned something new!

Until their smell is in the air Mag keep acting like a loony bin. Thankfully we are closer to the end and I am hoping that he calms down once we are in the car.

Funky fungus

After our little horse adventure the trail serpentines on the edge of the hill with plenty of fallen and also cut down trees.

We’ve also spotted this runaway haystack rolled down into the woods, stopped by a young tree.

At about 2.5 miles we have visual of the river and the railroad again from above.

The trail ends just before a private property and turns back onto the tracks. This picture is looking back on them.

Here are the ever not agreeing maps of our journey.

Not the longest walk but it is a very nice, relaxing trail. I dare you to try it!

Have a lovely spring!

Published by magzilla44

Magzilla, our AMSTAFF has rescued us in 2017 on a rainy day in May. It was a rough start because we didn’t know anything about him after him walking up on our property. But he has showed us what an amazing person he is and things became happily ever after pretty quick. He is very social, both with people and other pets. He loves his cat sisters and brothers and off course walking.

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