Cascade Falls Trail, located in Elkridge, Maryland
Having both a wide variety of trails and a close location to Baltimore city, Patapsco State Park in Elkridge, Maryland is a popular area. The park itself has a few different entrances; looking up “Patapsco Avalon entrance” brings you to the Avalon area. From the entrance, where you are supposed to pay $3 per car, you go past the first parking lot and continue on a ways until you can’t go any further. From this parking lot, you can start on the Cascade Falls Trail.
It was pretty warm when I began my hike and last week’s snow was melting rapidly. Strips of wet emerald covered the ground, plants finally coming out of their dormancy. Spring! Where have you been?? With the melting snow came the mud though, and my hiking boots were soon coated.
The Cascade Falls Trail is one of the prettiest hikes Patapsco has to offer. The trail winds up a mild incline, then steadily climbs alongside a river. As you hike, you begin to see waterfalls as the river picks its way around the many boulders. This increases until, not far from the start, you come to Cascade Falls.
This waterfall is a beautiful place to stop and sit for a while. Unfortunately, everyone feels that way! Unless you’re there early in the morning or later in the evening, you likely won’t have the waterfall to yourself. With ease of access comes the crowds.
Beyond the Falls
The trail then cuts across the rocks, taking you right in front of the falls, and then goes up to give you a view from the top. From there, the trail continues back into the forest. Along the way you can expect some rock hopping across streams, crossing over logs, and a few small bridges. It was pretty fun to pick my way through the obstacles. While I was hiking I was lucky enough to see a pileated woodpecker. Their call is a little prehistoric sounding, especially cool when echoing from far away.
This trail can be as long or as short as you like. If you go to just see the falls, it’s less than a mile round-trip. If you continue beyond, you can loop back for a round-trip of around two and a half miles, or continue on to a completely different trail.
This trail will only get prettier as things begin to grow and bloom, so I highly recommend checking it out! The optimal time would be after a day of rain (muddy, but the added water flow makes the falls that much nicer), either early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds.
For more information: http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/patapscoavalon.aspx