Monday, April 7, 2014

Take a Trip: Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland

This past weekend provided a brief and approximate glimpse into what spring should look like in my area. It was mostly sunny both Saturday and Sunday, although a bit on the cool side - particularly on Saturday, when there was a rather chilly wind. However, given the overcast, gloomy and unseasonably cool weather we had experienced as of late, the weekend was a very welcome change.

On Saturday a friend and I took advantage of the dry weather, and decided to explore the Cascade Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park (PVSP) outside of Baltimore. Other than the fact that I have difficult time remembering how to spell and pronounce the awkward word "Patapsco," it was a lovely outing. Founded in 1907, PVSP is one of Maryland's oldest state park. It is also quite large - over 16,000 acres and 170 miles of hiking trails. 

The visitors' center was closed for construction, but luckily I had thought ahead to print out a couple of maps from the park's website. The park has a number of developed recreation areas, and I'd decided that we needed to visit the Avalon/Orange Grove area, as that's where the Cascade Trail is located and that seemed as the most interesting option. Almost immediately after hitting the trail we saw why the trail is named that way, as there is a gorgeous stream that flows through the forest and forms rapids, cascades and small waterfalls in numerous places.
In some spots crossing the stream was necessary - either by small bridge or by stepping stones. The trail ended on a street in a suburban subdivision, so we turned around and retraced our steps, but did add on a loop in the woods that did not have any water views, but did cover some nice hilly areas. The great thing about the loop was that there were no mountain bikers on it, and while we were there we didn't even run into any other hikers. Although the sign at the trailhead very clearly stated "Hiking Only"in large letters, there were numerous bikers on the main trail. The entire trail was very well marked with blue blazes.
After our hike we checked out one of the park's two swinging bridges that cross the Patapsco River. It swung a bit too much for my liking while we were in the middle of it! There was a paved trail along the other side of the river that looked to be great for running or biking.
Swinging bridge
By this time we'd worked up quite the appetite, so we found a picnic table on the river and had lunch. I am definitely interested in checking out more of PVSP, even if other areas have no waterfalls!

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