60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore
by Evan Balkan (Menasha Ridge Press)
© Evan Balkan/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.
Being from the Hudson Valley area in New York State I'm used to long trails (Appalation Trail, the various Revolutionary War trails and areas near West Point Military Acad.) with lots of elevation changes fairly deep into the woods. Newly relocated to Howard County, MD I was eager to search out new trails to hike and run....mostly run. In fact that is what I did on this day...in the rain. Like the initial internet reviews, all of these trails are moderately rocky. It’s the dense tree cover and twisting layout that made this run so much fun. 70 degrees and rainy on this very early Autumn Day was awesome for about an 8 mile INTENSE trail run. Even though I ran a challenging trail system I would say it’s about as challenging to simply hike. There are about a half a dozen elevation changes (150 feet on average each time). LOTS OF STONES….its easy to turn an ankle here. To run it was like navigating the tire course from football practice, "knees up" only miles long.
Even though initial review of this area gives a distance if 3.4 miles with a skill level of moderate to strenuous….i would say you easily have access to another 15 miles of trails depending on which combination you choose,…. because once you reach and cross the Patapsco River over the old cable bridge (used for the employees of the floor mill) you have access to another whole system of trials. Some of the trials are easy and some will have you grabbing the nearest tree trunk to steady your step.
If you don’t want to get lost, bring the trail guide or a map. Although the blazes are very well marked there are so many fork in the road choices to make it would be easy to get lost. On the Hilton Side of the Park alone there are about 6 or 7 trails that intersect multiple times with each other. The two major land marks in the area are the rail line and the Patapsco River. So study up before you go unless you’re feeling adventurous and have the day ahead of you to get back to your vehicle.
We got pretty lost in the middle of the hike - the directions weren't very good. But finding our way back to the car was easy, and we enjoyed the route we took (even though it wasn't the one we had planned on.) This hike has some very steep and rocky sections, and we'd imagine some great views in the spring and fall!
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