There are probably around 40 miles of trails where this loop is. This large, linked loop hits almost all of the trails, and most of the more fun trails, including easier doubletrack, some trails along a ridge (with cliff on one side), a jump trail for fun, some downhill, some rock sections, roots, and a ton of elevation for Maryland riding...
The park closes all bathrooms during the winter months, including sources of water. During the summer months there are numerous places to refill water and utilize the facilities, making this one of more popular parts of Patapasco.
The trails in this area are poorly marked but are getting better. I will be utilizing the names the locals know the trails as, and typically show up as Strava segments.
Start at Rockburn Branch Park, 5400 Landing Road. Follow the road to the end and there will be a traffic circle. Off of that traffic circle is a trailhead. This trailhead is where this ride starts.
Enter the trailhead, turn left on the Rockburn Trail
. Follow to a four-way intersection. Go straight through the intersection and up The Twisties
, a switchback trail uphill.
Once at the top of the hill, make a left onto the "Powerline Trail", which is mapped as a continuation of the Rockburn Trail
. Follow this trail under the power lines to Landing Road and the boundary of Rockburn and Patapsco State Parks. Cross over Landing Road, and into Patapsco.
You'll come to a three way fork. Stay straight on the center trail. You are now on the Morning Choice
trail. Continue to follow Morning Choice
. You'll come to an intersection. Continue right to stay on Morning Choice
You'll come to another intersection, and will go right to stay on Morning Choice
. When you make this right, you'll have a downhill section with log jump, followed by some field riding. Eventually this trail will end at a four-way intersection. There is a large sign here indicating "Rockburn Trail
At the four-way, you'll go left, partially down Waterbars
. Pay attention as there is a trail that comes up quick on the left. This is Ridge Trail
, take a left onto Ridge. When you are on Ridge Trail
, you'll come to two back to back right hand turns. Both of these are Valley View East
and Valley View West
trail, which run parallel to Ridge Trail
. Take the second right to continue on Valley View West
You'll eventually come to an intersection where a large log blocks the trail (but you can ride around). This is an intersection with Ridge Trail
again. Make a right on Ridge Trail
While on Ridge Trail
, you'll hit a rock garden and small bridge, and then a stone road down to the park. Before you head down in to the park, turn left to stay on Ridge Trail
. Just past the large rock outcrop, the trail turns left and you are now on Cascade Falls
. Stay straight past the falls and on the main trail, all the way until you see Landing Road.
Once at Landing Road, turn left onto the trail closest to the road. This is Lewis and Clark
. Follow Lewis and Clark
until you get to an intersection. Turn right onto Morning Choice
. Yes, the same trail from before but you are now going backward. Retrace your tracks back to Landing Road. Stay straight and then turn left onto Nacho Mama
before the field.
Follow until you get to a stone road (Belmont Road). Go straight across, turn left onto Belmont / Rockburn
Trust Trail. This will end at an intersection with the Ridge Trail
. Turn left.
Cross a small bridge and turn right onto Rockburn Loop Center Trail
then turn left, and complete the Rockburn
You'll end at the four-way with the sign that says Rockburn Loop. At the four-way, bomb the Waterbars
to the park (turn right). Turn right on River Road Trail
. Pass the pavilions, head over the car bridge, and turn left onto Gunned
ends at the pond.
Turn right under the train bridge and follow the road to the bathroom. Turn left onto Soapstone Trail
. At the top, turn right on the road before turning right onto Santee Branch Trail
. At the top, you'll see a sign for Vineyard Springs
. Bomb it.
At the end, turn right on Grist Mill Trail
. At the bridge, turn right up the stream in the tunnel. Follow Nuns
up. Turn right on Triple Log
. At the dead end, turn left onto Santee Branch Trail
. Follow to Saw Mill Trail
, parallel to Hilltop Road.
Go through parking lot, then turn left onto Buzzards Rock
and then left onto Drugs
. At the Grist Mill Trail
, go left. Next, go over the Swinging Bridge
. Turn left onto River Road. Follow this to Stone Road on the right. Go up.
Here, you'll be on Ridge Trail
again. Next, make a right on the Old Connector
then head to Morning Choice
and retrace your steps back to the cars.
There is a great history to the Patapsco Valley. There are numerous ruins of old houses, mills, bridges, etc. scattered throughout the park. During the 1800's, the river was actually very deep allowing sailing vessels to travel for trade. The river also provided a means for the mills to have power.
The Bloede Dam, currently still in place, was the first hydraulic dam on the East Coast. During the ride, you also pass historic Belmont House, now owned by Howard County. Most of the trails originated as horse trails, but have since been made more sustainable by the local clubs in the area.