McKeldin Area Loop - Patapsco Valley Sta
The McKeldin area is in the most Northern part of Patapsco, along Marriottsville Road in Carroll County. McKeldin has opportunities for the horseback rider, mountain biker, hiker and disc golfer. This area has miles of multi-use trails, which are very popular with the equestrian community. The Rapids area has drive to picnic spots with access to trails along the river. The Main Branch and the South Branch of the Patapsco River join in the McKeldin area. Rapids along the South Branch are a beautiful but dangerous feature of this section of the park. (Note the Rapids area and the pool below the rapids are closed for swimming due to dangerous currents in this area.)
McKeldin has an 18-hole disc golf course, which provides for challenging play for disc golfers no matter their skill level. Large and small picnic shelters can be reserved in this area for your family gatherings. See if you can find the shelter that has stunning views of the Liberty Reservoir Dam. Mountain bikers will find this section of Patapsco to be challenging and unique with trails that climb in and out of the river valley. This area also has a youth group camping area. Compared to other areas of Patapsco, McKeldin feels more wide open with a slower pace than the rest of the park. There are areas here that are perfect to set up your lawn chair and kick back with a good book or for a kid to explore with their binoculars, butterfly net and magnifying glass. Take a walk on the Medicine Tree Trail using our self-guided nature walk guide or just meander along the Rapids Trail as it follows river side on the South Branch.
Trail use can be a wonderful way to enjoy this area.
Rapids Trail (.7 mile) - This trail begins at the southern end of the park, or it can be accessed from the Switchback Trail. The trail's name hints at its destination, one of the park's best-kept secrets, a cascading rapid on the Patapsco River that flows into a large, deep pool of water. This is a great fishing spot for anglers of all ages. Swimming is not permitted due to dangerous undercurrents.
The exposed rocks in this area of the river are a favored sunning spot for several species of snakes, including the northern water snake and an occasional copperhead, one of only two venomous species in Maryland. As a part of our natural world, snakes should be left unharmed. They effectively control populations of small mammals, like mice and rats, as well as provide an important food source for hawks and other predators. The Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act protects all native snakes in Maryland.
Switchback Trail (4 miles) – This trail begins by the contact station at the top of the hill near the entrance to the park. Hikers of all ages, mountain bikers and equestrians will enjoy this beautiful, riverside trail. The northern part of this trail is foot-use-only, but riders can continue their loop by using the Plantation Trail. During late fall and winter, enjoy a scenic view at the Liberty Dam Overlook located at the end of the trail.
Plantation Trail (1.4 miles) - This trail, which begins at the basketball courts and horse trailer parking area, is one of the favored equestrian routes. The trail is steep and passes through a series of pine groves, running along one of the highest ridges in the McKeldin Area.
Tall Poplar Trail (1.4 miles) - This trail can be accessed from Shelter #576 or across the road from the basketball courts. Aptly named for the impressive tulip poplar trees that are found along the way, you will have an opportunity to hike or ride the wide variety of terrain that McKeldin has to offer. The trail traverses moderately steep slopes, connecting riverside habitats to hardwood forests and open fields.
Medicine Tree Trail (.3 mile) - This trail begins at the youth group camping field parking lot. A short loop, the trail is quite rocky and includes a bridge over a deep ravine
Spring Glen Trail (.7 mile) - This loop trail begins across the lane from the contact station located at the entrance to the park, and will give you an opportunity to check out the McKeldin Area right from the start.