Thursday, June 9, 2011

Patapsco Valley State Park: McKeldin Area

Hike Date:  June 5, 2011

We discovered Patapsco Valley State Park last summer in our attempt to get out every minute we could.  It was one of our favorite hikes last year.  So we decided to return again this year to experience it again and share it with you.

Patapsco Valley State Park was Maryland's first state park; established in 1907.  Located in Carroll County, Maryland, it is the northern most area of the park out of the six (The others are the Daniels, Hilton, Pickall, Avalon, and Hollofield areas).

We started out by taking the Switchback Trail from the parking lot which leads to a lowland swampy area.  There are many rocky outcroppings, perfect for all kinds of wildlife.  From this trail, we took the short Rapids Trail to follow the river, and you guessed offers a view of Patapsco River rapids.  The trail goes across a large section of rocks so don't forget to wear proper footwear.

The Rapids Trail ends back at the Switchback Trail where the Main Branch and the South Branch of the river converge.  The Switchback continues to follow the river and you can either diverge from the river by the Plantation Trail, which includes a steep climb to the highest ridge in the McKeldin area, or continue on the Switchback Trail, which also goes upland to follow a paved road back to the parking lot.  Last summer, we took the plantation Trail and were in for a big surprise at the workout that followed.  This time we took the Switchback Trail back to the car to get back home to enjoy time out in our personal veggie garden.

Keep in mind that horses are permitted on some parts of the trail.  We were almost run off the trail by two horses and their riders galloping along while they screamed at us.  Anyway, the only other complaint I can think of is the rock quarry nearby.  Even on a Sunday, the booming could be heard throughout the park for most of the time we were there.

A blanket of invasive Basket Grass
 An important note: Some time ago an invasive plant was introduced into the area called Wavy Leaf Basket Grass.  Very easy to identify by the wavy leaves this plant should be avoided to prevent further spread of this unwanted visitor.  The sticky seeds act as hitch hikers on clothing, legs, and pretty much anything it touches, are present from September through November so be aware to check your shoes and clothing before leaving for this plants unwanted seed pods!
Wavy Leaf Basket Grass

The park has a lot to offer, so stay tuned to see our posts as we visit other areas of this park and be sure to come back soon to check out our next tale trail of The Billy Goat Trail - Section A!

Maintenance «««««
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  1. I've always wondered how invasive plants like Wavy Leaf Basket Grass make it to places where they're not supposed to be. I grew up in the south were Kudzu was a BIG problem for a lot of the native trees. Seriously, what idiot thought it would be a good idea to bring that stuff all the way from Japan/Southeast China? Grrrr...I could on and on but will refrain.