Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park

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.

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Image Credit: NPS / Sarah Rogers


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.)


April through October
Monday through Friday: $2 per vehicle in-state; $4 per vehicle out-of-state
Buses: $10 per bus (a bus is a vehicle that holds more than 9 passengers)
Weekends and Holidays
$3 per person in-state, $5 per person out-of-state
Buses: per person 
November through March
Honor System in effect: $2 per vehicle in-state; $4 per vehicle out-of-state
Buses: $10 (a bus is a vehicle that holds more than 9 passengers)


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.


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.


Last updated: July 06, 2022
Bay Gateways Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail