Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PVSP: Hiking the Cascade Falls Trail

Newt enjoyed playing in the stream.


A beautiful June Sunday brought us out to a Maryland state park for an afternoon of hiking and exploring the Cascade Falls Trail, which is just a few miles away from my home in the Orange Grove Area of the Patapsco Valley State Park.

In the heart of suburban Ellicott City, this trail is popular and often crowded, but still worth enjoying.


Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park’s many popular pavilions. The park offers more than 200 miles of trails spread out through the eight recreation areas.



The Cascade Falls Trail is a 2.1 mile out and back trail that runs along a stream with several small and one larger waterfalls. The trail is good for all skill levels -- we saw families with very young and very old members enjoying the trail. However, its location, right in the heart of suburban Ellicott City, means you're unlikely to find much solitude along the trail.



You'll find that the trail is very diverse -- some sections are exceptionally rocky and rugged and other sections are smoother. With its minor ups and downs, I found the trail to be very diverse and entertaining, and although it claims to have an elevation gain of 272 feet, it's probably not that significant if you only go down to the falls and back.



From the Landing Road trailhead, you head almost continually down the side of the hill, coming soon to a stream, which you follow the rest of the way to the main waterfalls, which are just 10 feet high, give or take. Beware of mountain bikers, as they'll come up on you fast and without warning; some are more considerate than others.


There are multiple stream crossing as well, both by bridge and by hopping rocks. It's fun. No matter how old you are, you feel young when you hop rocks.



Throughout the hike, you are walking through a mature wooded forest, with not much under growth -- an ideal habitat for wildflowers! In late April, I found a variety of white, pink, yellow and purple wildflowers, all of which I tried to photograph!

Possibly a wild pink sorrel.



This wildflower is commonly called Goldthread.


I also noticed a jack in the pulpit, but it was off the trail and I decided against trying to get to it to photograph it.



Know before you go: There are two accesses for this hike -- one from within the park, where there is ample parking and the other along Landing Road in Ellicott City, where there is not ample parking. I accessed the trail from Landing Road and the 20 plus cars there squeezed in along the road. I was lucky because someone pulled out just as I came by, so I was able to find a spot.



Getting there: For the trailhead at Landing road: 5095 Landing Road, Elkridge, MD 21075; or the trailhead within the main park area: 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Follow the drive left of the river all the way back to the swinging bridge and park in that parking lot.

Hours: Dawn until dusk.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/PatapscoValley/Avalon/Trail-Maps.aspx





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Wild violets

This day trip was made possible by Residence Inn in Fulton, MD, a dog-friendly hotel.

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