Self-Guided Opportunities
 
Hike
Location Gunpowder Falls State Park, Mingo Forks Trail
Hereford Area, 410-592-2897
Trail Access Parking area and trailhead are on Bunker Hill Road. From I-83, take exit 27 onto Mount Carmel Road heading east. Turn left heading north on York Road. Just north of Hereford High School turn left onto Bunker Hill Road and follow it to the end. Start on the Gunpowder South Trail to reach the Mingo Forks Trail. The Gunpowder South Trail is blazed white and crosses the road a few yards uphill from the parking area.
Distance 3.6 mile circuit including Gunpowder South Trail, Mingo Forks Trail and Bunker Hill Trail.
Time 2-3 hours
Trail Trail is mostly a single-track dirt path up ridges and down stream valleys with moderate hills. Some sections are on double-track trails following the course of old roadways.
Skill Level Moderate difficulty
Suitable For Families? Yes, with older children
Hazards/Restrictions No bicycles or motorized vehicles in wildlands. Pets must be on a leash.
Potable Water Water and restrooms are available at Camp Wood near the Bunker Hill trailhead. Carry in your own water for the duration of the hike.
Natural Features The Big Gunpowder Falls flows through calm sections and a series of bouldery rapids through hard, erosion-resistant mica schist rock.
Habitat for trees is adapted to cool hillsides and floodplains, including river birch, cherries, oaks, hemlocks, mountain laurel, dogwood, spicebush and witch hazel.
Early spring wildflower displays include hepatica, bloodroot, spring beauty, rue anemone and pink ladies slippers. Late summer flowers include goldenrod, asters and woodland sunflowers.
Beaver activity in the river, evidenced by gnawed trees, is common. Numerous brown trout thrive in pools in the cool water. The shaded Mingo Branch tributary bisects high plateaus and ridges. The trail also crosses a pine plantation.
Historic/Cultural Features None
Guiding Local mountain clubs and outing clubs lead hikes in this area.
Camping Organized youth group camping is available nearby at Camp Wood. Call the park office for reservations, 410-592-2897. A private recreation park offering camping is located in the Hereford Area.
Other Points of Interest Many other trails are located in the Hereford Wildlands and also surround Prettyboy Reservoir. Flyfishing for trout is a popular activity in the river. Kayakers, canoeists and tubers test their skills in the swift water.
Other Accommodations The Mill Pond Cottage, a quaint park-owned home located on Masemore Road, has been renovated for overnight rental accommodations. Call 410-592-2897. A bed and breakfast is located in Parkton.
Service Charges or Permits Youth group camping permit or overnight rental fees for accommodations only.
Description This hike within the Hereford Wildlands climbs out of the Gunpowder River valley onto plateaus high above the river, then dips down to cross the scenic east and west forks of the Mingo Branch, a stream tributary of the Gunpowder Falls and finally returns through wooded slopes to the Gunpowder Falls. The Mingo Branch was named after the Mingo Indians who traveled to this area from what is now Pennsylvania. The trail visits some of the highest areas in the park, where open fields provide extensive views.


From the parking lot on Bunker Hill Road follow the white blazes of the Gunpowder South Trail from Bunker Hill Road upstream alongside the Big Gunpowder Falls. The river is flowing through a narrow steep-sided valley, so the trail can be rugged as it crosses rocky sections, winding atop and between boulders and twisted roots. Cross the Bunker Hill Trail, the first trail you come to with blue blazes


In 0.6 miles at the crest of a ridge midway between Bunker Hill and Masemore Roads, the Mingo Forks Trail (blue blazes) makes a sharp left and turns away from the Gunpowder South Trail and soon begins its descent towards the west fork of the Mingo Branch. First it follows an old road, then turns left to descend through a pine grove, and turns left from the service road onto a footpath that crosses Mingo Branch. The trail continues to descend on the opposite bank, skirting a ridge and then crosses the east fork of Mingo Branch. Climbing away from the stream, the trail crosses a cleared land and emerges from the woods. On the left, the trail ends at Bunker Hill Road. Just across the road, the blue-blazed Bunker Hill Trail descends down the slope to return to the Camp Wood picnic area. Cross the picnic area to return to the parking lot.


Resources
  • Park Trail Map available at park headquarters
  • The Baltimore Trail Book (Suzanne Meyer Mittenthal)
  • Country Walks Near Baltimore (Alan Fisher)
  • Gunpowder Falls State Park homepage
Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
  • Small first aid kit
  • Water and a snack
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Adequate footwear
  • Compass
  • Rainwear
  • Check for ticks upon returning