Patapsco Valley State Park
Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove Areas

Cascade Falls


This area is within the southern end of Patapsco Valley State Park. The primary entrance is located off of South Street in Baltimore County. Three distinct areas are featured in this section of the park.

Avalon, once home of the Avalon Nail and Iron Works, has only a few remains of the bustling mill town that once dotted the shores of the Patapsco River. Today, this section of the park has large picnic shelters, playgrounds, and access to trails that travel through the river valley as well as up and out of the valley. The Avalon Visitor center is also found in this section of the park – open on weekends April – October this small visitor center is housed in one of the only remaining structures from the village that supported the Avalon Iron works. You travel through Avalon to reach the Orange Grove area.

Orange Grove is one of the most scenic areas of Patapsco, once the home of the village of Orange Grove, a mill town that supported the flour mill on the Baltimore County side of the river. A swinging bridge similar to the one that spanned the river in the 1800’s and early 1900’s crosses the river today connecting guests to the popular Grist Mill Trail. This area provides access to picnic shelters and picnic sites, as well as access to several trails located in this section of the park. A short walk up the remains of River Road follows along the river to the site of Bloedes Dam. Bloedes Dam was an engineering feat of the 20th century. It is the first hydroelectric dam in the U.S. where the turbines were located inside the hollow core of the dam. Today, this dam no longer generates electricity. Its interior turbines have been removed. ( Due to the dangers in the area surrounding the dam, the dam is posted as a no trespassing area for 300 feet above and below the dam.)

Glen Artney is located on the Baltimore County side of the river and is the home of Lost Lake, once a feeder pond for the mill race that powered the Iron Works down river. As you travel through the tunnel under the railroad tracks you enter the Glen Artney picnic area. Once this area of the park was set aside for camping, after the flood of 1972, this area hosted picnic facilities, boasting small intimate shelters, playgrounds and access to trails such as Soapstone, and Grist Mill. Miles of trails flow through these three areas, taking the hiker on a journey that features stunning vistas, hidden treasures of the past, babbling brooks, pleasing waterfalls, and a sense of wilderness that is within steps of the suburbs of Baltimore.

Avalon Entrance Closures

Due to major water line repairs, the Avalon entrance of Patapsco Valley State Park on South Street (Elkridge, MD) will be closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, sunrise to sunset from January 6, 2014 through January 20, 2014 and then again from February 3, 2014 through February 24, 2014. The park will remain open with an alternate entrance off of Levering Avenue. Follow the detour signs on Route 1. No vehicular, bike or foot traffic will be permitted through the South Street entrance, during the closures.

Road Repairs - updated February 25, 2014

The Avalon entrance road will be under construction due to water main work. The work started September 2013 and will continue with good weather until March 31, 2014. No road closures will occur, however traffic will be limited to one lane with flaggers in place. For further information please contact 410-461-5005.

Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove Area Trail Map

A new map of the trails at Patapsco Valley State Park's Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove areas can be downloaded for free from this website. Please make sure to read the printing instructions and information for how to download the file to cell phones. The map is in a PDF format that requires Adobe Reader. To get the free Adobe Reader go to Adobe.com.

Bloede Dam Project and Analysis

Bloede Dam

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently conducting a feasibility study to evaluate Bloede Dam's negative impact on the ecology of the Patapsco River and issues related to public safety.

The dam, located on the property of Patapsco Valley State Park, is an obstacle for fish passage, and it fragments aquatic habitat.

Bloede Dam is owned by the DNR. The Department is currently taking public comment on a report of the alternatives to address the problem.

"Click" here to view details and goals about the Bloede Dam project.

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: bloededam@dnr.state.md.us.

Pet Policy

  • Pets are allowed in the Avalon, Orange Grove and Glen Artney Areas of Patapsco Valley State Park.
  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times in the park.

    "Bicycle Commuting" Liability Waiver

    Patapsco Valley State Park requires guests who commute via bicycle in the park to complete an Application and Waiver of Liability For After Hours Bicycle Use. This form is an application and waiver of liability/assumption of risk for after-hours bicycle use (“Bicycle Commuting”) for commuting within the Avalon/Glen Artney area of Patapsco Valley State Park.

    Avalon/Orange Grove/Glen Artney Amenities

    Trails
    There are hiker only and multi-use trails in this area. Trail maps are available for purchase on-line, at the visitor center, contact station and at Park Headquarters in Ellicott City.

    Horse back riders at Patapsco

    • Morning Choice Trail -- (1.8 miles) A relatively level trail, this route connects Cascade Falls Trail with Rockburn Branch Trail, as it winds through areas of beautiful mature trees, and passes a stand of bamboo near Old Track Loop.
    • Cascade Falls Trail -- (2.2 miles)Beginning in the Orange Grove Area, this loop trail allows visitors an opportunity to view beautiful cascades and rapids. A short section of the trail is foot-use only due to severe steepness. Please check your map before biking.
    • Ridge Trail -- (2.2 miles) This trail connects the Avalon and Orange Grove Areas and is popular for hiking and mountain biking.
    • River Road Trail -- (0.8 miles) The River Road Trail runs on the Howard County side of the Patapsco River from the swinging bridge in Orange Grove to Bloedes Dam. The trail is a remnant of the old River Road that was washed out in 1972 by Tropical Storm Agnes. This trail offers a calmer, less inhabited alternative to the Grist Mill Trail for those who are willing to do a little more hiking.
    • Valley View Trail -- (0.9 miles) This foot-use-only trail has a great view of the river valley and primarily runs along the ridge. Watch for a few steep sections with loose rocks.
    • Buzzards Rock -- (2.1 miles) This steep trail runs along the top of a ridge and provides a scenic view above the railroad tracks, especially during late fall and winter. Please note on the map that 0.7 miles of this trail is foot-use only. Mountain bikers must detour on to Santee Branch Trail.
    • Forest Glen -- (0.6 miles) This foot-use only trail has several very steep grades, and connects the end of the Grist Mill Trail to the Hilton Area complex near the recycled tire playground.
    • Vineyard Springs -- (1 mile) This is a very popular mountain bike trail and can be accessed from the Grist Mill Trail. It is narrow at points, often only two or three feet wide, as it works its way along a stream.
    • Sawmill Branch Trail -- (0.9 miles) This trail starts at the end of the Grist Mill Trail or off the Buzzards Rock Trail. The trail's moderate grade meanders downstream, allowing hikers to view several scenic pools and glades.
    • Grist Mill Trail -- (2.3 miles) This trail is wheelchair accessible, traveling from the Lost Lake parking lot to the Swinging Bridge and continuing on to Bloedes Dam and points west. The trail follows the river and railroad bed.
    • Bull Run -- (1 mile) Bull Run is a winding loop trail in the Glen Artney Area. It branches off of the Soapstone Trail and offers users a moderate hike through mature forest. Trail users that are looking to add some distance to their nature experience favor this trail.
    • Soapstone -- (1.7 miles) This trail has a loop below the Glen Artney Area. Several stream crossings are required as this trail connects with South Rolling Road (Rt. 166).

    Trail use can be a wonderful way to enjoy this area. Tips for trail users:

    1. Wear appropriate foot wear
    2. Know your route and be prepared for emergencies
    3. Carry water and a snack
    4. First aid kit and safety equipment reccommended
    5. Dress for the weather
    6. Let someone know your itinerary and route – cell phones are not reliable in the valley
    7. Help us sustain our trails. Avoid trail use in wet conditions. We recommend you wait at least 24 hours after a rain event before venturing out along the trails again.

    Paddling and Tubing
    When water levels are up in Spring and Fall and immediately after summer storms ( care should be used as current is swift after storms ). Bring your own equipment.

    You can hike to just below Bloedes Dam ( outside of No Trespassing area around the Dam) and put in taking out at the Gun Rd. Bridge or continuing further down River to the Halethorpe Area. Check out our Resource Based Recreation Partner – Terrapin Adventures for information on opportunities they offer in this area.

    Shelters in Avalon
    There are two rental shelters in Avalon. Make shelter reservations.

    • Shelter #104 can accommodate a maximum of 100 guests. Alcohol permits required in advance through the reservation service.
    • Shelter #105 can accommodate a maximum of 200 guests. Alcohol permits required in advance through the reservation service.
    • Restrooms and Playgrounds are close by these shelters.

    Shelters in Orange Grove
    There is one rental shelter in Orange Grove. Make shelter reservations.

    • Shelter #106 can accommodate a maximum of 70 guests. Alcohol permits required in advance through the Reservation Service. A restroom is close by this shelter.

    Shelters in Glen Artney
    There are 9 rental shelters in Glen Artney. Make shelter reservations.

    • Shelter #1 can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.
    • Shelter #10 can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.
    • Shelter #22 can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.
    • Shelter #26 can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.
    • Shelter #33 can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.
    • Shelter #61 can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.
    • Shelter #66 can accommodate a maximum of 70 guests. Alcohol permits required in advance through the reservation service.
    • Shelter #92 can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelter.

    Picnicking
    Picnic Areas are located in all three areas, with most of the picnic sites located in the Glen Artney area.

    Fishing
    All areas of the river are open for fishing, except for the area within 300 feet above and below Bloedes Dam. Upstream from Thomas Viaduct is Non-tidal waters and the areas downstream of the Viaduct are tidal waters. Different fishing regulations and licenses apply in each area.

    Swimming
    Swimming is permitted all along the river, except where posted as closed. This is unguarded swimming at your own risk. The river can have strong currents – use care when swimming in these areas.

    Avalon Visitor Center
    Posted October 21, 2013 - The Avalon Visitor Center is closed until further notice due to construction.
    The visitor center is located in a 185 year old stone house, the only remaining Avalon house that survived the 1868 flood. The Avalon site was improved by Victor G. Bloede, pronounced “Blerda,” to become the Avalon Water Works in 1910. Remnants of the Water Works remain today. The Visitor Center has exhibits on park history, a small information center with park maps and drinks for sale. The Visitor Center is open Weekends 11 a.m. 3 p.m. April – October. Our park visitor center is staffed solely by volunteers.

    Historic Sites

    Avalon Bridge

    Thomas Viaduct was completed in 1835 and is the world’s largest multiple arched stone railroad bridge with an arc. Enter the Avalon Area of Patapsco Valley State Park off U.S. Rt. 1 at South St., just north of Elkridge. Proceed on the park entrance road to the contact station. Park in the driveway in front of the contact station. Note the Viaduct interpretive sign at the contact station and carefully walk the road to examine the Viaduct keeping in mind the danger of the blind curve on the roadway.

    Old Gun Road Stone Arch Bridge is not in use but it has since colonial times spanned the “mill race” supplying water power to the Dorsey Forge. George Washington reportedly laid out Gun Road to move guns for the American Revolution produced at the Dorsey Forge. Transported via Gun Road to Elkridge Landing, the guns were shipped down River to the Bay and then to Annapolis for final assembly. In 1815 the Ellicott family acquired Dorsey Forge and expanded it to become the Avalon Iron and Nail Works. Floods in 1868 destroyed the Iron and Nail Works along with the village of Avalon.

    The Swinging Bridge spans the Patapsco at Orange Grove, 1.6 miles northwest of Avalon following the Park Rd. in Howard County beyond shelters 104 and 105. Prior suspension foot bridges at this location enabled residents of the Orange Grove mill town to cross the river to Baltimore County to work in the five stories high Orange Grove Flour Mill of the C.A. Gambrill Manufacturing Company. This mill burned May 1, 1905. Cross the bridge to discover ruins of this large mill site that extended from the railroad tracks to the Swinging Bridge abutment. Orange Grove was sold in white bags whose tops were string tied and whose labels proclaimed “Patapsco Superlative Flour."

    Bloede’s Dam is believed to be the world’s first submerged electrical generating plant that was housed under water inside the shell of the dam. Victor G. Bloede, the same chemist and entrepreneur who created the Water Works at Avalon, hired electrical engineer Otto Wonder to oversee the development of this unique hydroelectric dam that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Continue on the Park Rd., parking in the Orange Grove area, and then hike along old River Rd. trail to the Dam. There is a 300 foot no trespassing zone above and below the dam.

    Avalon/Orange Grove/Glen Artney Service Charges

    April through October
    Monday through Friday: $2 per vehicle in-state, $4 per vehicle out-of-state
    Buses: $10 per bus (a bus is a vehicle that holds more than 9 passengers)
    Weekends and Holidays
    $3 per person in-state, $5 per person out-of-state
    Buses: per person
    November through March
    Honor System in effect: $2 per vehicle in-state; $4 per vehicle out-of-state
    Buses: $10 per bus (a bus is a vehicle that holds more than 9 passengers)

    Admitted Free: Children buckled in safety seats, senior citizens 62 & older with the Golden Age Pass (requires one-time $10 administrative fee – information available at http://www.dnr.maryland/gov/publiclands/goldenage.asp), people with the Access Maryland State Park Pass for persons with disabilities, members of the Maryland National Guard & all active duty military personnel who display their active military identification card (complimentary access is permitted for card holder only).

    Entry service charges are not included in pavilion/shelter rental costs; they are in addition to those costs. Those wanting to prepay the service charges need to contact the park office before the reservation date.

Location

Patapsco Valley State Park
Avalon Area
5120 South Street
Baltimore MD 21227
GPS N 39-13'11.0 W 076-42'18.3
Link to Google Maps

Contact

Main Office: 410-461-5005
Reservations: 1-888-432-2267

Hours of Operation

9 a.m. to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.

Directions to Avalon

Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove/Lost Lake Areas – From the Beltway (I-695) take Rt. 1 ( Exit 12-A) toward Elkridge. Follow Rt. 1 South about 3 miles to South St. Turn right. Park entrance is on the left.

From I-95 take I-195 to Rt. 1 (Exit 3) toward Elkridge to South St. Turn right. Park entrance is on the left.

From Howard County follow Rt. 1 through Elkridge and into Baltimore County. Turn left on South St. Park entrance is on the left.

Directions to Orange Grove

Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove/Lost Lake Areas – From the Beltway (I-695) take Rt. 1 ( Exit 12-A) toward Elkridge. Follow Rt. 1 South about 3 miles to South St. Turn right. Park entrance is on the left.

From I-95 take I-195 to Rt. 1 (Exit 3) toward Elkridge to South St. Turn right. Park entrance is on the left.

From Howard County follow Rt. 1 through Elkridge and into Baltimore County. Turn left on South St. Park entrance is on the left.

Directions to Glen Artney

Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove/Lost Lake Areas – From the Beltway (I-695) take Rt. 1 ( Exit 12-A) toward Elkridge. Follow Rt. 1 South about 3 miles to South St. Turn right. Park entrance is on the left.

From I-95 take I-195 to Rt. 1 (Exit 3) toward Elkridge to South St. Turn right. Park entrance is on the left.

From Howard County follow Rt. 1 through Elkridge and into Baltimore County. Turn left on South St. Park entrance is on the left.

Contact the Park Service

  • Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
    (Annapolis Office)
  • Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
  • Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
  • Email Us

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