Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, upstream of where the river flows into the Chesapeake Bay at Baltimore harbour. One of Maryland's first state parks (1907), Patapsco Valley includes five developed recreational areas, providing hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park's many popular pavilions.
The Patapsco River valley and its natural resources have been used and enjoyed for centuries - by Native Americans, explorers, settlers and now present-day citizens. With its source in Frederick and Carroll counties, the Patapsco is the largest Chesapeake Bay tributary on the western shore between the Patuxent to the south and the Susquehanna to the north.
The park is open daily 9:00 AM to Sunset, year-round.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
The park has a day use service charge of $2 for state residents and $4 for out-of-state residents. On weekends between April and October service charges increase by $1.
Captain John Smith and his crew spent only two and a half days on the Patapsco River, but Smith managed to map it with amazing accuracy.
On June 12, 1608, after a long trip up the Chesapeake Bay from Cove Point near the Patuxent River, the crew anchored their shallop for the night off Bodkin Point, on the south side of the Patapsco’s broad mouth.
They saw no one on land. Some historians believe this part of the Bay’s western shore was a buffer area between American Indian tribes in the region and the Massawomeck, who lived in present-day Western Maryland.
The next day, Smith explored the river up to present-day Elkridge, Maryland, where he planted a cross.
The crew planted these crosses to mark the extent of their exploration. Smith’s 1612 map includes areas beyond the crosses, which he drew using information from the native people he met.
The park offers hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, canoeing, bicycling, tubing, rental pavilions, fishing, equestrian trails, ball fields and playgrounds, and camping. There are 73 campsites, some with electric hookups, a pet loop and a camp store.
Hunting is available by permit.
With the new OPERATION: CAMPOUT! Program, we can lend you gear free of charge (includes a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more). This program is designed for military individuals and military families new to camping or experienced campers stationed or recovering in this area. OPERATION: CAMPOUT! is an opportunity for families to reconnect with each other and the great outdoors in a comfortable, safe and relaxing setting.
Facilities include: the Avalon Visitor Center (Open Saturday and Sunday April through October), with various campsites, pavilions and restrooms throughout the park
All developed areas of the park have facilities that are accessible to the disabled. Most picnic pavilions and all restrooms are accessible. A one acre pond in the Avalon Area is restricted to fishing by those people under 16, over 61, or disabled with an Access Maryland Pass, and is accessible by wheelchair.
Also in the Avalon Area is the scenic Grist Mill Trail, a 1.5 mile paved multi-purpose trail along the Patapsco River. The trail is wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair accessible platform for fly fishing is available to anglers at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area off Klee Mill Road.
Pets are allowed in the Avalon, Orange Grove and Glen Artney Areas of Patapsco Valley State Park. Dogs must be on a leash at all times in the park.