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.
We set out on this hike with big ambitions of hiking 8 miles.
Online information as well as the signage said that the trail was 4 miles each way. This did not account for the 1+ before and after the trail or the 200+ steps to the viewing areas. We ended our hike as a one way hike and it was 6.8 miles.
They had a shuttle service that took you from the end of the trail to the beginning of the trail. It was $16 well spent. Plus the driver of the shuttle gave us some great information about the North Country Trail. We had never heard of this trail but its a crazy ambitious hike. It looks to be tougher than both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail. It starts in up state New York and goes allllll the way to North Dakota. It’s 4600 miles long and if you thru-hike you are bound to encounter freezing temperatures being that far north. It takes on average 7-8 months to complete the entire trail. I just could not imagine … Brrrrr!
Speaking of Brrrr… When we set out to do the River Trail at Tahquamenon Falls it was quite nippy. But we warmed up pretty quickly. The hike started out with a nice view of the lower falls.
It was a boardwalked area with lots of look out points. Once we got off of the boardwalk there was a pretty decent ascent. That got our blood pumping…. But the middle part of the trail was pretty flat. There were lots of planked walk ways and bridges, along with a few sets of stairs. The trail is very clearly marked, it almost impossible to get lost on this one…. Even for us :). There were also plenty of benches to stop and take rest. The river itself had a reddish brown tint to it. This is because the water filters through a Cedar River and the trees change the color of the water. Although discolored this water is said to be very clean. The city girl in me doesn’t really trust it but, that is what they say.
There was another ascent at the end of the trail. Then you leave the trail and walk for a bit on a paved road. At this paved road there is a sign that says 116 steps to the gorge. This is one of the look out points to see the upper falls… So we did the 116 steps down and 116 steps back up. Thinking we had seen what there was to see, we started walking towards where we thought the parking lot was. Well then we came to another set of stairs. This one said 94 steps down. So we did the 94 steps down. This was a view from the top of the falls. And my personal favorite view. The look out points for both the upper and lower falls were pretty crowded. You are able to park in the parking lot less than a mile away from each of them. There was a yummy restaurant/ brewery right in the same parking lot of the upper falls look out area.