Best Hiking Trails in Baltimore
Aside from being the birthplace of the National Anthem and the home of the best crab cakes, Baltimore is also known for its breathtaking sceneries, such as the West Mount Vernon Place or the Cylburn Arboretum. This is why tourists often drive to Baltimore — to witness and experience the unspoiled natural sceneries and partake in their delicious cuisines. It’s a great place to visit, packed with hiking trails.
If you love hiking and want to experience some of the best trails in the country, try taking a trip to Baltimore. And if you already live there, know that hiking in Baltimore should be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have. You will love the vast and scenic trails, plus the great photos you can take along the way.
Know that there are numerous trails in Baltimore, and it can be challenging to choose only one among all the wonderful hiking trails you can try. Here are some of the best hiking trails in or near Baltimore:
Druid Hill Park
Length of Trail: 1.5 miles
Location: 900 Druid Park Lake Dr, Baltimore, MD 21217
Phone: (410) 396-7900
Druid Hill Park could be the perfect choice if you’re looking for a vast hiking trail with numerous outdoor activities for you and your loved ones. When you ask the locals around for their favorite hiking trail, they will answer Druid Hill Park without a doubt. The place is safe and family-friendly, and even student and school trips are often held here. In addition, you can try more activities such as biking and running since the place has enough space. While walking through the trail, you’ll also be amazed by the view of the woodland areas. They are breathtaking and cause you to pause for a moment to enjoy the view.
As if the scenery is not enough, they also offer various amenities such as playgrounds, tennis courts, an urban park, greenhouses, a pool, and the renowned Jones Falls Trail. In addition, Druid Hill Park is an all-in-one hiking trail you should consider visiting.
Length of Trail: 1.3 miles
Location: Pylesville, Maryland
Phone: (410) 557-7994
If you’re up for a short and fun hike leading to the majestic Kilgore falls, you should try walking its trail. You’ll be overwhelmed by its beauty and the wonderful sloshing of the water when it hits the rocks. Of course, it is a very popular hiking trail, so expect more people to hike with you. Sometimes, the trail may get crowded depending on the day of the week. But overall, the path to Kilgore falls is simply perfect if you prefer hiking through muddy trails with a great view.
You may bring kids with you as the trail is flat and easy. First-time hikers also appreciate this fact since people usually treat this hiking trail as their first milestone. The trail loops around the falls, and you can also hike above them. Make sure to take a moment to enjoy the wonderful view.
Patapsco Valley State Park, Soapstone Trail
Length of Trail: 2.6 miles
Cost: Monday to Friday: $2-$4 per vehicle
Weekends and Holidays: $3-$5 per vehicle
Location: 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043
Phone: (410) 461-5005
Hiking in Baltimore will never be complete without trying the Soapstone trail. This trail will leave you in awe with its several varieties of wildflowers and incomparable, breathtaking views. If you want to witness the purest of wildlife, the trail will leave you with plenty of opportunities to do so. This is one of the reasons why the Soapstone trail is well-liked by tourists and residents. You can see the view best at its summit, 300 feet.
Remember that hiking here can be challenging, so make sure to wear your best hiking shoes when traversing the amazing Soapstone trail.
Stony Run Trail
Length of Trail: 5.6 miles
Location: Wyman Park, Baltimore, MD 21211
If you want a more urban setting for your hiking adventure, the Stony Run Trail is a must. It is a convenient hike you’ll love, especially if you’re a beginner. However, despite the urban feel of this trail, you can still witness tunnels, waterfalls, forests, and bridges. And the best part is the most recent improvements, where the trails are now marked and well-maintained for the hikers’ safety.
Note that the trail passes through residential areas and surrounding neighborhoods. If you don’t want to go too far into the forest or wildlife, the Stony Run Trail is perfect.
Grist Mill Walking Bridge and Trail
Length of Trail: 5 miles
Location: Grist Mill Trail at Patapsco Valley State Park, Catonsville, MD 21228
The Grist Mill route goes through the Patapsco Valley State Park. If you’re looking for a long, worthwhile adventure, you should consider hiking your way through Baltimore, the Patapsco River, and the Ohio Railroad. Grist Mill Walking Bridge and Trail is for the more adventurous and ready to take on long hiking distances.
Once you cross the river, you can see the old mill’s ruins from 1905. This is considered an amazing and historic encounter that most hikers love to witness. If you want to see this view, look for Bloede’s Dam, the first ever underground power source. On September 2017, an initiative was to rehabilitate the upstream river to make the surroundings conducive for wildlife.
Thus, expect to see some amazing wildlife on the trail. In addition, witnessing one of the oldest trails in Maryland will make your hike worthwhile.
Carrie Murray Nature Center
Length of Trail: 15 miles
Location: 1901 Ridgetop Rd, Baltimore, MD 21207
Phone: (410) 396-0808
This vast trail is made to connect nature lovers in a single hub and their kids. It is one of the most renowned urban old-growth forests to exist — gleaning from its 30 000 annual visitors. They are welcoming to all groups of guests, including faith-based groups, summer camp participants, and other school groups. The whole area is child-friendly but still requires adult supervision. Families love to bond together as they hike the trail because of the wholesome ambiance of the whole place. Tourists and locals also love the friendly and welcoming staff in the area.
If you’re interested in a group trip, Carrie Murray Nature Center is open throughout the year for outreach programs and field trips. You can also count on them to spearhead activities such as public programs, summer camps, and special events. They also offer hiking training for the little ones through a dedicated hiking education trail.
Maryland Heights Loop
Length of Trail: 6 miles
Cost: $20 for entrance and parking fee
Location: 171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Phone: (304) 535-6029
If you are a fan of history, you will enjoy this trail. Maryland Heights Loop is well-known as an important Civil War landmark. The Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converge on this trail. This is where the borders of the three states, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland, converge. The best news is that this trail is only two hours away from the city center. So you can go for a road trip and hike the trail as a weekend getaway.
You can choose between the full trail and the overlook — depending on your time and energy. The latter is the shorter trail, where you can see an awe-striking view of the converged rivers, majestic boulders, and historical iron bridges. So take part in history by walking the Maryland Heights Loop trail path.
Tips For Hiking in Baltimore
Hiking near Baltimore is difficult, especially if you plan to take a longer trail. Below are some tips to help you enjoy your hike and shrug all the inconvenience away from the starting point.
Never overestimate your fitness level or strength. If you’re a beginner, start with shorter trails. While challenging yourself is great, exhausting yourself out is bad for your health. You wouldn’t want to collapse in the middle of the trail. Once you’ve experienced hiking at least once, you can then move up and try longer trails in the future. But if it’s your first time, try the shortest trails first.
Study the Trail
Once you have a hiking trail in mind, do your research. Get a detailed map of the area and study it thoroughly. Try to take a look at possible wrong turns and mark them. You may have brought company, but it’s good to familiarize yourself with the hiking trail, especially during worst-case scenarios.
Pack all the essentials but don’t bring too much with you. You may have a hard time carrying them on the trail. So instead, bring some navigation tools, enough water and food, weather protection, a first-aid kit, safety items, a multi-purpose tool (with a knife), and sun protection such as sunscreen. These are the top essentials you need to bring, and leave the unnecessary items at home.
Check the Weather
Check the weather to pack the right items. You don’t want to be caught off guard on the trail when you experience inclement weather. A simple search on your browser will do.
Wear the Right Clothes
Hikewear can be very specific. Before embarking on your hike:
- Purchase clothes designed especially for hiking
- Choose sturdy but lightweight shoes for an easy stride
- Remember that your clothes can make or break your hiking experience
- List the clothes you need and bring extra if possible.
Before leaving for a hiking trip, inform a family member or a loved one about it. Tell them where you’re going and if possible, let them use an app that can track where you are at a particular moment. You wouldn’t want them to worry in case of a delay in your return due to inclement weather or perhaps a sore ankle.
Leave Nothing but Footprints
Trails are designed to be naturally beautiful, which is why humans should not ruin them. Take care of the earth’s natural resources by leaving nothing but footprints. Bring your trash with you, and avoid damaging anything along the way. Be kind to the little creatures you may encounter, and do not hurt them. Enjoy hiking but take responsibility for Mother Nature.
Make the Most of Your Hike in Baltimore
Hiking in Baltimore could be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have. The hiking trails listed here are not all-inclusive, and you may do your research if you want to look for more breathtaking locations. Remember to hike responsibly and choose a location that fits your preferences and hiking experience. You wouldn’t want to ruin your hiking trip with a bad experience along the way. But don’t forget to enjoy your trip in or near Baltimore — make sure it’s one for the books.