It is no secret that I absolutely love hiking at Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland. For as long as I can remember, my family has been going there to hike. When I was presented with the opportunity to go home and take my kids on their own adventures there, I jumped right on it. While we went on many hikes in the wonderful Patapsco Valley State Park, I wanted to share with y’all my personal favorite kid friendly trail; Union Dam Trail. Let’s Dive In.
Getting To Union Dam Trail
Union Dam Trail is located in the Hollofield Area of Patapsco Valley State Park. This area of the park is easily accessible right off of Route 40 in Ellicott City. To locate the trail, drive straight out of the ranger station toward the bathrooms and pavilions. Park toward the back of the lot as the trail begins on the right side of the back of that lot.
What To Wear And Pack
What you wear really depends on the season. We went during the spring time and packed light jackets that we wound up taking off on our ascent to the top. Be sure to check the weather before you leave to make sure you have the proper amount of clothing on. As far as footwear is concerned, everyone should wear some sort of supportive and grippy shoe because the trail does get steep in places.
Union Dam Trail is mostly covered, but when you get down to the river there is no tree coverage. If you plan on staying a while or taking any side trails, I would recommend packing sunscreen just in case. Since you are in the woods for a majority of this trail, it’s also wise to bring some bug spray and tick repellent for the whole family. For more advice on what to wear and pack when hiking with kids, check out this blog post.
On The Trail
The trail itself is only one mile long so the distance is not what will wear you out. As I mentioned before, there is a pretty significant elevation change on Union Dam Trail. Going down is not so bad if you have proper footwear on, but coming back up you may need to take extra time for everyone to catch their breath. Taking extra time is not necessarily a bad thing on this trail. When we stopped for our break midway up, we were lucky enough to watch a train going along the tracks.
At the bottom of Union Dam Trail, you are greeted with front row tickets to the Patapsco River. This is one of the most beautiful views of the river in the whole park so definitely take your time here. Also at the bottom of the trail, you will find a longer trail that continues along the river. If your littles are still up for a walk, the path is very easy and you can decide how far to go before you turn back.
When you are done hiking, Patapsco Valley State Park has soooo much more fun to offer. Right in the Hollofield Area, there is a wonderful play structure (pictured above) for the kids to burn some extra energy on. If you are looking for a way bigger and more exciting playground, head 15 minutes up the road to the Hilton Area of the park for a giant tire park.
While you are in Ellicott City, you can also pop downtown and visit the free B&O Railroad Museum and go shopping in the historic district. Another excellent kid friendly activity in the area is Clark’s Elioak Farm. It is a combination enchanted forest and petting zoo that is sure to brighten up everyone’s day.
Happy Hiking At Patapsco Valley State Park!
I hope your family loves this trail as much as ours does. If you have been hiking here before, I would absolutely love to hear about your experiences in the comments below. I would also love to hear about your favorite trails for hiking at Patapsco Valley State Park.
As always, share this post if you love what you’ve read or think a friend would love it. Follow me on social for some fun behind the scenes photos of our hike here and other parts of the park. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for taking the time out to read about our adventures out in Our Happy Place 🙂