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Enjoying all that Patapsco State Park has to offer

Patapsco Valley State Park was Maryland's first state park. With the Patapsco river as its foundation, it extends over 32 miles along the rivers path and even further into Baltimore City. The park has many developed recreation areas and over 14,000 acres of ground available for hiking, swimming, biking, playing and enjoying all of the natural amenities our state has to offer.

The park is located in Ellicott City, but it's around twenty minutes from Reisterstown, and can be reached by going through Baltimore County. Out of all of the different developed areas, the McKeldin Area of Patapsco Valley state park is one of my favorites. I may be biased because it is one of the closest to get to from Reisterstown or because I spent many winter days enjoying time with my son at the yearly Cub Scout Klondike Derbies, but I don't think this is the case. The reason I enjoy this park so much is because of all it has to offer.

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The McKeldin Area of Patapsco Valley State Park consists of 1,400 acres and is accessible from Marriotsville Road. As you pull in the front entrance, you can choose what path you want to drive down. The one to the left takes you to a large playground and picnic area. Here you can sit and relax as your children play, or enjoy a game of badminton or volleyball in the sanded court. You can also rent out the large covered picnic area with multiple grills for an event.

If you follow the driving path all the way to the rear of the park, there is a designated tent camping area with flat ground and grills available. As you are touring through the park, you may also have a random frisbee cross your path. This is because there is a disc golf course running throughout the McKeldin area. Disc golf, also known as frisbee golf, is a flying disc game in which players throw a flying disc — or frisbee — at a target.

The object of disc golf is to follow a course from beginning to end in the least number of throws of the disc. The discs are targeted for a pole with chains hanging from the top to "catch" the disc and a basket about midway down for the disc to fall into. The McKeldin area has an expansive disc golf course that draws players from many nearby areas.

To the right, the path takes you to several parking areas that facilitate access to the over eight miles of hiking trails. These trails allow you to hike by foot, jog, walk your dog, mountain bike, or even horseback ride through the beautiful terrain. Most of the trails are moderate in incline and are somewhat rustic. The trails all interconnect and are well marked. It would be rather difficult to get lost. Trail maps are also available at the entrance for $2.

My favorite trails to hike are the Switchback and McKeldin Rapids trails. These trails traverse through the gorgeous Maryland foliage, following the banks of the north and south branches of the Patapsco River. The McKeldin rapids trail takes you to a gorgeous waterfall that runs into a pond. This is a great spot to sit and relax and take in the beautiful views. There is also a large sandy area where kids can play on the banks and parents can take a break. The water is very clear here and you can see to the bottom, allowing you to explore the fish and mossy rocks. This area is also a photography hotspot, so bring your cameras.

After a long hike on the trails, we like to take our cooler out from the trunk, have a nice refreshing drink and cook a meal on the charcoal grills near one of the many covered pavilions. There is nothing better than a good hike, a good dinner and some outdoor family time.


Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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