There are so many trails at the Patapsco State Park we decided to head back and check out a different trail. Here is a link to the trail maps in the Avalon section of the park. This just happens to be the most convenient part of the park for me to get to. So, we tend to explore this area the most.
We actually paid to get into the park to do this hike. While out on the hike we did find an alternate trail head in a neighborhood close by. If you want to start from the street you would park at the intersection of Landing Rd. and Grovemont Drive.
If you would like to see the trail the way we did you would pay for entry to the park and then park by the swinging bridge. We started our hike on the Cascade Falls Trail (blue blazes) we stayed right on the trail bypassing the falls. —not on purpose— There was an intersection there was a neat looking little broken down building and the hill looked a little more challenging so we took that path instead. There were quite a few decent ascents. Enough to keep you on your toes but not tire you out.
We followed the Cascade Falls Trail (blue blazes) until it met up with the Morning Choice Trail (yellow blazes). It is right after the blue trail meets the yellow trail that you would start on this trail if you parked outside of the park on Landing Rd and Grovemont Dr. Anywho we followed the yellow trail around. This is where the creepiness began. First my husband insisted on turning over rocks to find slimy things. He was successful in his quest. We found slugs and worms. EWWWWW…..
I am sure I have told you guys before that I am a city girl and these kind of things do not excite me one bit. But, I guess boys will be boys and Jim was quite amused at the ickiness of these guys. I know that you would expect to see worms and slugs on a trail, especially when you are turning over rocks… but we did not expect to see this….
What is it you ask???? Yeah, I asked the same thing. I looks like some sort of shrine? I don’t have a good picture of it but there was a huge piece of hair on the opposite side of the turtle shell from the candle. I don’t know if it was human hair or not but it sure was a huge hunk of long blonde hair. The only other animal that I could think that it would come from would be a horse?
Sooooo…. that was interesting! We stayed long enough to take pics and then kept going. Only to come across a series of old broken down buildings. It looked like they used to be camping areas… maybe…. but they were a little spooky to see just after the shrine.
The orange trail is called the Ridge Trail. This can be picked up not far from the trail head of the blue trail (Cascade Falls) near the swinging bridge. We climbed up pretty high on this part of the trail but it was pretty gradual so it did not seem so bad. As we we walked along the orange trail we could hear the waterfall. We could not see it but we could hear it. It was coming from below so we decided to go off trail to try to find it. This meant descending a gigantic hill. It was a straight hill with no switchbacks so it was not so easy on the toes. Jim taught me a technique though to help save the toes. It’s a really simple technique and probably obvious to many of you but for me it was THE most genius thing I had ever heard. Just go down the hill with your feet turned sideways. HA HA!! Genius!!!!
Once we reached the bottom of the hill there was a little bit of stream and lots of rocks and down limbs. We could not see the waterfall yet but we could tell we were close. We could have gotten back on the grass and walked along the side of the stream but we decided to try our hand at scaling the rocks. There were not very tall and posed little threat.
This was my favorite part of the hike. I have been wanting to climb some rocks since we started but I seriously doubted my ability so I did not want to take on a huge venture with out the proper gear. The rocks were about 6-8 foot tall and had pretty easy footing to spots to follow. We made it up. At the top of these rocks there was a small waterfall. We stopped here to take a rest and Jim cooled off in the water.
It still sounded like there were bigger falls above so we decided to take to rocks up again to the next level. Again about a 6-8 ft climb but with a little less footing spots. But we made it! The falls were pretty. Not a large fall but pretty non the less. Jim said he has been going to this park exploring since he was a little boy and never seen this fall before. And here it was just a few yards away from the road and the swinging bridge that we have been to hundreds of times before.
Next to the waterfall was the blue trail. It was the part we bypassed on the way in. It was a very short walk back to the trail head and our car. 🙂
Of course I had technical difficulties while on the trail and MapMyHike did to record our journey (User Error 🙂 )
But we the trail information says that
Cascade Falls Trail is 2.79 miles
Morning Choice is 1.8 miles
Ridge Trail is 2.2 miles
I think that we missed a total of about 1 mile of the trails. So that puts us at about 5.5-6 miles give or take.
If you are hiking with kids I would recommend going into the park and taking the Cascade Falls Trail. When you come to the intersection with the steeper hill and the old building at the top of the hill go the opposite way 🙂 This will take you a short walk to get you to the falls.
All three of these trails are easily picked up and easy to follow so you could make this one as long or as short as you’d like.
Let’s just say that our first family hike did not get off to such a smooth start. We were very unorganized in the morning rushing to grab and go all that we would need (which was not much). So there was a little frustration there…. But the hour long drive brought us plenty of light conversation and pretty Maryland views. We even arrived a little early to the park. The gates were not set to open until 9am.
Well around 9:15pm we started getting frustrated that the gates STILL were not open. By 9:40pm I was on the phone with the DNR trying to figure out if maybe this part of the park was not open on Sundays. Low and behold 5 minutes after the phone call someone arrived to open the gate.
Finally we were off on the trail. We got a later start than we had intended but luckily the cover of the trees gave us plenty of shade and the humidity was not so bad, not so bad at all. The hike to the falls was SOOOO short and non-strenuous. The terrain was very easy to navigate. There were boardwalks, rocks to hop over the stream, dirt paths and rock formations.
Along the way we saw some pretty cedar trees and some other old trees with beautiful exposed roots.
The falls were gorgeous!! So very pretty. We had the place to ourselves for about 20 minutes before anyone else arrived. We got to swim out to the falls , dig under rocks to find bugs and just enjoy the peace and quiet.
It really did feel like we had our own piece of paradise.
You can absolutely bring kids along with you on this hike. Maybe even pack a snack and stay for a few hours. I loved that the falls even made my son smile and clap. Which if you have a teenager you know this is not always easily done.
The water was clean we filled up a water bottle just so we could see how clear it was. After about 45 minutes of playing in the falls we headed back towards the car. You can opt to come back along the trail the way that you came OR you can go up around the back and top of the falls and cross the river up there. There is a trail to the left of the falls that you can take up and around the back of the falls. There was a fun little rock crevasse that had what looked like rock steps.
The loop back around was a little more strenuous but I would still classify it as easy. PLUS you can sit in the water where the before the falls turn into falls.
There was a small area at the bottom of the falls that would allow you to jump into the water pool below but it was too small for our taste and not worth the risk. So after playing around in the water for a while we took the hike back to the car. The loop behind the falls met up with the same trail that we came in on. So it was a nice leisurely walk back.
I would recommend this trail if:
You are looking for someplace to take a short walk and cool off
If you have smaller children with you
If you want to just check out some beautiful sights
If you are looking for a work out you might want to skip this one.
The trail is easy to find
We came from route 24 just drive through Rock State Park
make a left on to St. Mary’s Road and then a right on to Falling Branch Rd. The parking lot will be on the right hand side.