Patapsco Valley State Park, one of the Baltimore area’s largest and oldest state parks is also the ideal location for Appalachian Trail bound hikers to train and test out new gear. Encompassing 16,043 acres along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, the park offers over 170 miles of hiking trails and opportunities for camping, day use, kayaking, biking, fishing and hunting, according to the DNR website, where detailed park maps and regulations can be found.
As autumn approaches, the season for hiking the Appalachian Trail is coming to a close, allowing prospective hikers 6 winter months of training before setting out in March, often considered the best time for beginning the trail. Patapsco Valley State Park offers rocky and hilly terrain in close proximity to Baltimore, with a network of trails perfect for quick hikes before work, or spending entire days in nature.
Part of successfully hiking The Appalachians is selecting the right gear. Nothing is worse than realizing after 15 miles from your vehicle that your shoes don’t fit correctly, or that your new pack is becoming cumbersome. The importance of proper gear is unparalleled, with many reputable camping retailers offering areas in-store for imitating mountainous terrain, ensuring you’ve selected the proper products. However once purchased, most equipment still needs to be broken in and when making the long drive to Western Maryland is out of the question, Patapsco Valley State Park is the forest next door, perfect for quickly preparing to hike the larger, more difficult ranges to the west.
Divided into 6 areas, Patapsco Valley State Park is situated just west of Baltimore City and easily accessible from several major highways. The Avalon area, located off of route 1 contains stone ruins of textile mills that once lined the banks of the Patapsco River, offering hikers a glimpse into history as well as picturesque scenery. Potential visitors should note that pets are not allowed in the Pickall area, located between routes 695 and 70. Hiking with pets is permitted in all other areas of the park. With a daily admission fee of only $2 per vehicle, for those who haven’t purchased a Maryland State Parks & Trails Passport, available at the DNR website, Patapsco Valley State Park offers the wonders of deep wilderness without making a day out of getting there, ensuring that by spring you’re hiking the ranges with the best of them.