60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Baltimore

Best Baltimore Hikes for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. Sure, you can stay in the city and explore the concrete jungle, but you can also go out onto the green trails, breathe in fresh air, go for a swim, and become one with nature. Doesn’t that sound more fun?

These hikes with swimming holes from the new edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Baltimore by Allison Sturm are the perfect holiday weekend getaways without venturing too far from the city.

Rocks State Park

Distance & Configuration: 3.7-mile loop

Difficulty: Moderate

In 1951 the State of Maryland began purchasing land surrounding the Deer Creek Valley. Originally envisioned as Deer Creek State Park, the name was later changed to the unceremonious but apt Rocks State Park. An amble through the area quickly bears out that decision.

Explore 885 acres of dense forest and massive boulders rising above Deer Creek, including the main attraction: King and Queen Seat, a 190-foot rock outcrop that was once the ancestral meeting place of the Susquehannock and Mingo Indians.

To begin, head northeast, following the red-blazed gravel trail toward the King and Queen Seat. You’ll quickly reach this feature in less than 0.2 mile. A natural 190-foot rock outcrop overlooking Deer Creek Valley, King and Queen Seat provides a stunning vista of the rolling farmlands of northern Harford County sprawling out and Deer Creek running below. Be very careful here—people have fallen off these vertical rock faces.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Baltimore

Rocks State Park: Falling Branch Area

Distance & Configuration: 0.88-mile out-and-back

Difficulty: Easy

Take a short hike with a grand payoff: Kilgore Falls, Maryland’s second- highest vertical waterfall.

The relatively small 67-acre Falling Branch Area of Rocks State Park was once a meet- ing place for Susquehannock Indians. Local hikers and nature enthusiasts didn’t know about it for many years because it sat on private property. Fortunately, in 1993, the state, with the help of many local activists (including Harford County public schoolchildren), bought the land and turned it over to Rocks State Park officials for administration. It has become one of the most attractive parcels for many miles around.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Baltimore

Prettyboy Reservoir: Hemlock Trail

Distance & Configuration: 2.1-mile loop

Difficulty: Strenuous

Get a taste of Appalachia within a grove of centuries-old hemlocks. After a hike that can be strenuous at times, cool off with a refreshing dip in the icy Gunpowder Falls.

At some points along the first half of the trail, there seems to be no trail at all, but passage is guaranteed by the open forest floor. The trail is packed dirt and can be very close and narrow, especially in summer. Pull up your socks or wear pants if you don’t want poison ivy. The river to the right is swift and loud, and occasionally you’ll see it through the thick underbrush. Over the river, as well as up the hill to your left, you’ll see tall trees, but this part of the path is pretty exposed.

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Baltimore
Tanya Twerdowsky
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