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Escape to these Baltimore-area parks and trails

The trails can be rocky and challenging although it includes sections that are dead-flat, as well as tough climbs and hills. Trails are close to Columbia.
(Matt Roth, Patuxent Publishing Photo)

Escape to these Baltimore-area parks and trails

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It's going to be a weird summer, again. At these Maryland parks and trails you can get away from everyone while still experiencing the beauty of nature.
(By Kit Waskom Pollard, Special to The Baltimore Sun)
Wincopin Trails
The trails can be rocky and challenging although it includes sections that are dead-flat, as well as tough climbs and hills. Trails are close to Columbia.
The trails can be rocky and challenging although it includes sections that are dead-flat, as well as tough climbs and hills. Trails are close to Columbia. (Matt Roth, Patuxent Publishing Photo)
Gunpowder Falls State Park, Sweet Air and Central Area Trails
Both sections of the park have numerous routes, which can vary from short runs to more than 15 miles. The rails are often shady and provide views of the water.
Both sections of the park have numerous routes, which can vary from short runs to more than 15 miles. The rails are often shady and provide views of the water. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Gunpowder Falls State Park, Torrey C. Brown Trail, aka the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail
The trail's Maryland portion is 20 miles. The NCR trail is about 10 feet wide, flat and mostly shady, with a crushed-stone surface.
The trail's Maryland portion is 20 miles. The NCR trail is about 10 feet wide, flat and mostly shady, with a crushed-stone surface. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Druid Lake Park, Jones Falls Trail
The trail extends from Penn Station to Clipper Mill. Park trails are paved and offer a variety of views, from wooded areas to the downtown skyline.
The trail extends from Penn Station to Clipper Mill. Park trails are paved and offer a variety of views, from wooded areas to the downtown skyline. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Loch Raven Reservoir
Between two and 10 miles on the main path; side paths add more mileage. These trails are often hilly and rocky.
Between two and 10 miles on the main path; side paths add more mileage. These trails are often hilly and rocky. (Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun Photo)
MA & PA Heritage Trail
MA & PA trail has a well-maintained paved or crushed-gravel surface and is wide enough for 10 runners at certain points. Though the Bel Air portion of the trail is shady, in Fallston the trail crosses open fields and can be hot in the summer.
MA & PA trail has a well-maintained paved or crushed-gravel surface and is wide enough for 10 runners at certain points. Though the Bel Air portion of the trail is shady, in Fallston the trail crosses open fields and can be hot in the summer. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Middle Patuxent Environmental Area
There are three trails that can be combined a variety of ways; most runs are five to eight miles. The trails are good for beginners or anyone looking for an easy run in a pretty, natural setting.
There are three trails that can be combined a variety of ways; most runs are five to eight miles. The trails are good for beginners or anyone looking for an easy run in a pretty, natural setting. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Patapsco Valley State Park
With 170 miles of trails (including 70 that are maintained), runs may range from brief to very long. Trails vary within the park: Some are paved, while others are rougher and rockier.
With 170 miles of trails (including 70 that are maintained), runs may range from brief to very long. Trails vary within the park: Some are paved, while others are rougher and rockier. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis
There are six miles of trails within the park. They are paved and flat, sunny in parts and shady in others. The trails loop through the park; some spots offer views of the Chesapeake Bay.
There are six miles of trails within the park. They are paved and flat, sunny in parts and shady in others. The trails loop through the park; some spots offer views of the Chesapeake Bay. (Anne Arundel County Recreation & Parks)
Lake Roland Park
On the northern border between Baltimore City and Baltimore County. There's a scenic view of the lake, and the park has a popular enclosed dog park.
On the northern border between Baltimore City and Baltimore County. There's a scenic view of the lake, and the park has a popular enclosed dog park. (Steve Ruark, Patuxent Publishing Photo)
Stony Run
Stony Run is a dirt path running along a stream. The path is well-maintained and shady, with views of the water.
Stony Run is a dirt path running along a stream. The path is well-maintained and shady, with views of the water. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun Photo)
Susquehanna State Park
The park has about 15 miles of trails, with numerous options for loops. Except for a few portions through open fields, most of the trails are shaded, with some views of the Susquehanna River.
The park has about 15 miles of trails, with numerous options for loops. Except for a few portions through open fields, most of the trails are shaded, with some views of the Susquehanna River. (Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff, Patuxent Homestead Photo)
Oregon Ridge Park
The trail starts at a nature center, passes a pond and provides spots to overlook Hunt Valley. Along with the swimming lake, there are playgrounds and picnic areas, as well as the nature center.
The trail starts at a nature center, passes a pond and provides spots to overlook Hunt Valley. Along with the swimming lake, there are playgrounds and picnic areas, as well as the nature center. (Brian Krista, Baltimore Sun Media Group photo)
Cabin John Valley Stream Trail, Cabin John
Hiking along the Cabin John Valley Stream is the draw of this trail. The entire trail is nine miles, but Jennifer Chambers, author of a children's hiking book, "Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle," suggests catching the trail at MacArthur Boulevard. There are rocky beaches and one sandy beach to access the stream. The best part of the trail? A giant boulder. "The kids can climb up and be king or queen," Chambers says.
Hiking along the Cabin John Valley Stream is the draw of this trail. The entire trail is nine miles, but Jennifer Chambers, author of a children's hiking book, "Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle," suggests catching the trail at MacArthur Boulevard. There are rocky beaches and one sandy beach to access the stream. The best part of the trail? A giant boulder. "The kids can climb up and be king or queen," Chambers says. (Courtesy of M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks, handout photo)
Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail (NCR)
This 20-mile flat trail, formerly known as the Northern Central Railway Trail, can be accessed at various points from Paper Mill, Phoenix, Sparks, Monkton, White Hall, Parkton, Bentley Springs and Freeland. Heather Connellee, author of "Best Easy Day Hikes in Baltimore," recommends parking in Monkton at the site of the restored Monkton Station. Visitors are welcome to dip in the swimming holes or float down the Gunpowder Falls River.
This 20-mile flat trail, formerly known as the Northern Central Railway Trail, can be accessed at various points from Paper Mill, Phoenix, Sparks, Monkton, White Hall, Parkton, Bentley Springs and Freeland. Heather Connellee, author of "Best Easy Day Hikes in Baltimore," recommends parking in Monkton at the site of the restored Monkton Station. Visitors are welcome to dip in the swimming holes or float down the Gunpowder Falls River. (Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun photo)
Cascade Falls Trail, Baltimore
Hike along a stream, climb on rocks and wade in the water on the Cascade Falls Trail at Patapsco State Park. Reach the waterfall a mile into the hike, then loop back to the parking lot.
Hike along a stream, climb on rocks and wade in the water on the Cascade Falls Trail at Patapsco State Park. Reach the waterfall a mile into the hike, then loop back to the parking lot. (Matt Roth, Baltimore Sun Media Group photo)
Rocks State Park: Falling Branch Trail, Pylesville
The waterfall is the highlight of this short and easy hike in Harford County. The 1.1-mile hike follows Falling Branch Stream until it reaches Kilgore Falls, the second-highest vertical waterfall in Maryland, and the backdrop for a scene in the movie "Tuck Everlasting."
The waterfall is the highlight of this short and easy hike in Harford County. The 1.1-mile hike follows Falling Branch Stream until it reaches Kilgore Falls, the second-highest vertical waterfall in Maryland, and the backdrop for a scene in the movie "Tuck Everlasting." (Matt Button, Baltimore Sun Media Group photo)
Elk Neck State Park: Lighthouse Trail, Route 272, North East
The 35-foot Turkey Point Lighthouse sits on a 100-foot bluff, and visitors are welcome to climb to the top to admire the five rivers that meet the Chesapeake Bay.
The 35-foot Turkey Point Lighthouse sits on a 100-foot bluff, and visitors are welcome to climb to the top to admire the five rivers that meet the Chesapeake Bay. (Maryland Department of Natural Resources, handout photo)
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