Patapsco Valley State Park is sort of a hidden treasure amongst the outskirts of Baltimore City. I would have never guessed it to be there. On our way home from our search for a pumpkin for last year's fall season, we came across a sign for the State Park and decided to stop in since it wasn't too late. Patapsco River runs right along or through the State Park so it was very scenic. There are multiple hiking, biking and horseback riding trails (some of which you have to be brave enough to cross the swinging bridge) in which you can see remains of historic buildings like the old Grist Mill and Flour Mill. You can also fish, archery hunt, canoe, camp (which consists of several different areas), or just go for a day trip and picnic at the parks.
On a wish list and under discussion for at least 3 decades, Maryland is finally preparing to open a state park with provisions for OHV (SxS, ATV, Dirt bikes and full size 4x4). We got to take a look at some of the trails prior to the one of many community Open House events. Looks like this one may be a winner! Its success will be dependent on support of and for the nearby landowners and the OHV community working together! The property includes almost 2000 acres with miles and miles of trail and also fishing and hunting. Long-term plans include addressing camping and picnic sites. The park will open in stages. Hiking trails and hunting opens on Nov. 10, 2018 (just 2 weeks from now). More will to come, including plans for OHV starting in late spring 2019. The three parcels of land also includes ~3 miles of Potomac River waterfront.
The new state park is Wolf's Den Run State Park and is located near Kitzmiller, MD in Garrett County.
Kitzmiller images are here: https://www.google.com/search?q=kit...HQ6-CIoQ9C96BAgBEBs&biw=1252&bih=579&dpr=1.09
Images from the pre-run on Parcel C are here. https://www.facebook.com/Ceruleanfirefly/media_set?set=a.10216894327768466&type=3
Garrett County was the destination for NYE 2018.
Starting in Grantsville MD for lunch at the Casselman Inn. Built as a roadhouse along the old National Road in 1843, it has survived and prospered over the years. Described by one of our party as the concept that Cracker Barrel tried to take nation-wide but with better food. Specialties include freshly baked breads, cookies and pies and properly-battered and fried onion rings. Pork and sauerkraut were the lunch special for NYE. B&B style rooms are upstairs.
Next stop was the Casselman Bridge State Park. Three bridges cross the Casselman River here, the massive I-68 concrete overpass, the steel bridge on Alt US 40 and the 1813 Stone arch (now pedestrian-only) bridge. At the time of its construction, it was the largest single stone arch bridge in America. Built with high clearance underneath to facilitate canal traffic, it was obsolete as the railroads had emerged as the future of inland travel. Picnic tables and outdoor stone grills make it suitable for day use outings.
Next stop was Swallow Falls State Park in Oakland MD.
Swallow Falls is on the Youghiogheny River (mumbling is permitted if you're reading out loud). The Swallow Falls, Lower Swallow Falls and Muddy River Falls are accessible via graveled paths and wooden stairways. The paths take one through a Hemlock Forest with some trees over 300 years old. The forest is managed to closely recreate the natural, untouched state so you stay on the trails.
Note that Swallow Falls is a fee area (max was $3 per day per car for MD residents, vets are free). Day use only.
This tree's rootball was a max of 8-10 in height. The tree never penetrated the rock, its roots went across and down the sides of the rock.
Rainy, foggy day and we moved on to the Rock Maze Trail (about 2 miles via roadway to the parking area from Swallow Falls Park) in the Garrett State Forest.
For documentation purposes, the parking lot for the trailhead is visible from the intersection of Cranesville Rd and Snaggy Mountain Road. The Rock Maze trail is approximately 1/2 to 3/4 mile one way and relatively flat. It is a dirt trail which can get muddy in wet weather. It is marked by red paint blazes on the trees around eye level. It parallels Cranesville Rd.
Couldn't find any documentation but the Rock Maze is naturally occurring. It appears likely that the great upheaval which formed the Appalachian Mountains split a huge piece of rock. The resulting crevices formed the maze (sort of an East Coast slot canyon, maybe?). Over the years, mosses and ferns cover much of the rock with trees and their root structure along and beside the crevices. Easy hike, worth revisiting in better weather when better light should yield better photography, too.
“The property comprises three distinct parcels, including approximately three miles of frontage on the Potomac River’s North Branch, three brook trout streams, mixed forest, and unique rocky bluffs rising 900 feet above the Potomac River. All three parcels include areas of rugged, mountainous terrain with numerous ephemeral streams, meadows, small tributaries, and wetlands.”
If you like camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, birding or horseback riding, this new park, near the town of Kitzmiller and the West Virginia border, sounds idyllic. And there’s a bonus: The land is no longer mined for coal, and hundreds of its acres have turned green again. By purchasing it in 2017 with $3.67 million in federal funds and funds from Program Open Space, Maryland took another step into the great reforestation that has been underway in the eastern states for years.
But Wolf Den Run has not been set aside as a place of remote tranquility. It has been motorized. It is now Maryland’s only park for OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) enthusiasts. For a fee, they will be allowed to drive their two-, three- and four-wheel machines over many miles of trails. In fact, an area known as Huckleberry Rocks quietly opened for them this month, with 12.5 miles of trails, half of which can accommodate vehicles such as Jeeps.