Patapsco Valley State Park is one of the oldest parks in Maryland that was established in 1907. Since then it has continued to attract various individuals and today, it is famous for its trails and the wonderful scenery it offers those who visit the place. The park is surrounded by a steep river valley and it covers an area of 32 miles within the vicinity of Patapsco River.
There are a number of natural surface trails within the park that cover a distance of 170 miles that give hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians access to the hillsides along the river. This does not mean that you have to engage in either of these activities to enjoy and explore the trails in the park. There is provision for those who would love a more relaxed environment on a trail.
That is exactly what Grist Mill Trail is; a relaxed environment where you do not need to engage in rigorous activities but take it easy with family and friends. This trail provides a wonderful view of the Patapsco River as it runs along it for about a mile and a half. It also passes through various historical sites for families, those with disabilities and those who are on biking trips to learn something from the same.
Children on strollers can also be brought by and if you have your dog, rather than leaving him/her behind as you come to Grist Mill Trail, have them on a leash and walk them around the trail as well. This trail is 2.5 miles that travels through a woody landscape between Ilchester Road and Lost Lake and passes next to Swinging Bridge and Bloede’s Dam.
This dam has been identified as one of the Historic Places on the National Register and is believed to be the first submerged electrical generating plant in the world; this was under water inside the dam. Swinging Bridge crosses the river at Orange Grove and previously, it had been used by local inhabitants to cross over the river to go and work at Orange Grove Flour Mill.
The mill burned down in 1905 but the ruins are still visible. If you wish to explore this area, you can use the bridge to cross over for you to access the area for exploration. Other remains that you will find as you explore Grist Mill Trail are those of Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad whose operations were between Baltimore and Ellicott City.
In a bid to enhance access to recreational opportunities as part of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a multi-use trail was opened near Ellicott City and is 1.2 miles long. This extension comes to an end abruptly at an old railroad bridge abutment but plans are underway that will see a bridge built over the river, to connect this extension to local roads. This extension adds to paved trails in the park by over 2 ½ miles while Grist Mill Trail has since increased to five miles.
The original section of the trail connects Swinging Bridge to Lost Lake, which is a special area for children under 16 to go fishing and was once a reservoir for Avalon Iron and Nail Works and the Baltimore County Water Company.