New, 367-acre park open for hikes, bikes, picnics


On a hot summer's day, April and Lorell were cooling themselves and settling their stomachs munching in a field lush with clover, an unusual sight for visitors to Cromwell Valley Park.

April, 8, and Lorell, 9, are purebred, 1,800-pound Percheron horses acquired last year to pull wagons full of passengers on autumn hayrides through Baltimore County's new park.

"It's too hot for them to be hauling wagons right now, but this fall they'll have plenty to do," said Patrick McGregor, who is managing Cromwell Valley for the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

The 367-acre park on Cromwell Bridge Road, about 10 minutes east of Towson, is now open to hikers, bikers and picnickers, and Mr. McGregor has developed a schedule of events while awaiting release of a master plan for the park's development later this summer.

In addition, the park's renovated 18-room Sherwood House is available for weddings, receptions and meetings.

"We've had four weddings there so far, and we've already booked some dates for next year," Mr. McGregor said.

Night hikes, campfire programs, and studies of the valley's flora and fauna are scheduled every weekend. The county has erected a bandstand, and three free concerts remain on the summer schedule.

Summer camps, scheduled weekly through Aug. 4, feature crafts, hiking and nature studies.

Biking is permitted on paved roads, and hikers can go anywhere in the park, Mr. McGregor said. "We want the bikers to stay on the roads because they cause erosion problems," he said.

Visitors for events such as the concerts should enter the park at 2002 Cromwell Bridge Road, which borders Fellowship Farm, the most recently acquired property for the park. This leads to Sherwood House, where the park office is located. Casual visitors can enter at 2175 Cromwell Bridge Road, where a sign reads "Willow Grove Farm, Cromwell Valley Park."

The county hired Greenman-Pederson, a Laurel consulting firm, to prepare a master plan for development of the park, bought for about $8 million from three landowners. The state and county split the cost of purchase, but the county has to maintain and develop it.

Regular weekend hayrides starring April and Lorell will begin after Labor Day.

The summer concert schedule began last night. Remaining performances scheduled are the Maryland Summer Center for the Arts High School concert band, Aug. 3; and Aldo Lagrutta classical guitarist, Aug. 17. The concerts start at 7 p.m., and seating is on the lawn in front of Sherwood House.

For information, call 887-2503 weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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