Patapsco Valley State Park

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Coordinates: 39°17′35″N 76°47′12″W / 39.29306°N 76.78667°W / 39.29306; -76.78667
Patapsco Valley State Park
Maryland State Park
The Thomas Viaduct, a signature monument of Patapsco Valley State Park
Country United States
State Maryland
Counties Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard
Elevation 374 ft (114 m) [1]
Coordinates 39°17′35″N 76°47′12″W / 39.29306°N 76.78667°W / 39.29306; -76.78667 [1]
Area 14,286 acres (5,781 ha) [2]
Established October 6, 1907
Management Maryland Department of Natural Resources
IUCN category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape
Location in Maryland
Website: Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park is a Maryland state park extending along 32 miles (51 km) of the Patapsco River to the south and west of the city of Baltimore.[3] The park encompasses multiple developed recreational areas on over 14,000 acres (5,700 ha) of land. In 2006, it was officially celebrated as Maryland's first state park.[4]


Patapsco Valley State Park (originally Patapsco State Forest Reserve) was established in 1907 to protect the valley's forest and water resources one year after the creation of Bloede's Dam.[5] The first 43 acres were donated by Russell Sage Foundation director John Mark Glenn (1858-1950) from his Hilton estate.[4] As other sections along the river were added, Patapsco Valley State Park became one of the largest parks in Maryland.

In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps opened State Park Project 2 work camps 336 and 356 at the park. CCC workers created recreational facilities and performed tree plantings for erosion control and silt management around the dam from adjacent overworked farms.[6] Keeping the shores and hillsides vegetated minimized erosion, thus minimizing the amount of silt that could clog the turbines of Bloede's Dam which generated electricity for surrounding communities.

On 15 May 1941, the camp was converted to the nation's first Civilian Public Service conscientious objector camp, with 26 men and three women[7] required to serve for one year, a term that was extended as the United States entered WWII.[8]

In 1999, final scenes of The Blair Witch Project were filmed in a 200 year old Griggs House in the park near Granite, Maryland. The state planned to demolish this historic structure until publicity from the movie brought contributors for its preservation.[9][10] The house was demolished at a later date without an announcement.[11]

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park's recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and picnicking. The Baltimore City Paper named the park as its "Best Place to Hike" in 2007.[12]

Park Areas[edit]

  • McKeldin Area: The park's most western section features multi-use trails for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking, a disc golf course, fishing at the confluence of the North and South branches of the Patapsco River, and the Rapids area on the South Branch.[13]
  • Daniels Area: Once the site of a milltown called Daniels, the Daniels dam here backs up the Patapsco River providing smooth water for canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and swimming.[14]
  • Hollofield Area: The park's center section features a 73-site campground, hiking trails, and shelters built by the CCC in the 1930s, plus a scenic overlook of the entire river valley.[15]
  • Pickall Area: Picnic shelters and playgrounds.[16]
  • Hilton Area: Located near Catonsville, the area has a small campground with mini-cabins, a nature center for children, and access to the Saw Mill Branch Trail and other trails.[17]
  • Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove Area: The area features many historic sites including the Thomas Viaduct, Bloede's Dam, the Old Gun Road Stone Arch Bridge, and the Swinging Bridge. The Avalon Visitor Center is housed in a remnant of the milltown of the same name that once served the Avalon Nail and Iron Works.[18]

Swinging Bridges[edit]

There are two swinging bridges that cross the Patapsco River. The first spans the Patapsco at Orange Grove, 1.6 miles (2.6 km) northwest of Avalon following the Park Road in Howard County beyond shelters 104 and 105. Prior suspension foot bridges at this location enabled residents of the Orange Grove mill community to cross the river to Baltimore County to work in the five-storey-high Orange Grove Flour Mill of the C.A. Gambrill Manufacturing Company that burned to the ground in 1905. Visitors can cross the bridge to discover the ruins of the mill site that extended from the railroad tracks to the Swinging Bridge abutment.[19]

The newest and second swinging bridge opened November 4, 2006. It is located at the end of the Grist Mill Trail and crosses the Patapsco River to connect with Ilchester Road. This new bridge allows easy entry for residents living in Ellicott City and Catonsville for the first time since Hurricane Agnes struck in 1972.[4]

Cascade Falls[edit]

This waterfall gently cascades down a 10–15 feet (3.0–4.6 m) foot face. It is located in the Orange Grove area of the park, and can be hiked to from a marked trail at the last parking lot in the Orange Grove area.[20]

See also[edit]


Tunnel along Grist Mill Trail. CSX Railroad runs above tunnel.
  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Patapsco Valley State Park
  2. ^ "FY2013 DNR Owned Lands Acreage Report". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Plaque Dedication: Patapsco Valley State Park – Maryland's First State Park: May 23, 2006". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ Bryan MacKay (2008). Baltimore Trails: A Guide for Hikers and Mountain Bikers. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0801890705. 
  6. ^ "The Civilian Conservation Corps: Roosevelt's Tree Army in Maryland". Maryland DNR. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Peter Brock, Thomas Paul Socknat, ed. (1999). Challenge to Mars: Essays on Pacifism from 1918 to 1945. University of Toronto Press. p. 312. ISBN 0802043712. 
  8. ^ Rachel Waltner Goossen (1997). Women Against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender. University of North Carolina Press. p. 20. ISBN 0807846724. 
  9. ^ "Blair Witch Project". Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Blair Witch' works magic for doomed house Interested party pays state to preserve famed house". The Baltimore Sun. 1 January 2000. 
  11. ^ Doug Gelbert. Film and television locations: a state-by-state guidebook to moviemaking sites, excluding Los Angeles. p. 103. 
  12. ^ "Best Place to Hike". Baltimore City Paper. September 19, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park - McKeldin Area". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park - Daniels Area". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park - Hollofield Area". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park - Pickall Area". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park - Hilton Area". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park - Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove Areas". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Patapsco Valley State Park History". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Cascade Falls". The Waterfall Chase. Joshua Szulecki. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]