Posted on March 31, 2021
Whether you live in the city or in the suburbs, there are times when we all feel a bit claustrophobic, especially since our travel and socialization has been so restricted for the past year. Luckily, you don't have to go far to find somewhere to relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy a moment of quiet.
1. Leakin Park and The Gwynns Falls Trail
Let's start right here within Baltimore City! The Gwynns Falls Trail is a 15-mile long hiking and biking trail that runs through the heart of Baltimore, from the south of the city in Cherry Hill to the Park and Ride where I-70 ends, on the west end of Baltimore. At the heart of the Gwynns Falls trail is Leakin Park. At over 1,000 Acres, Leakin Park is actually the largest urban old-growth forest east of the Mississippi!
There are a number of hiking trails beginning at Winan's Meadow, which offers ample parking off Franklintown Rd. The trails start at some unique ruins (pictured) and from there, you can walk along a peaceful brook or get in your cardio and climb the steep trail up a rocky cliff that will make you immediately forget you're in a city.
For the little ones (and for the inner child in all of us), there's the Carrie Murray Nature Center. Here, you will find a great variety of educational programs and opportunities to learn about the history of the park and about nature and wildlife.
2. Patapsco Valley State Park
Patapsco Valley State Park follows 32 miles of the Patapsco River and is home to over 200 miles of hiking trails, so you will always have something new to discover! There are several different named areas of the park, each with its own character and features. All areas of the park are just a quick drive from the city and offer beautiful views, landscapes, and trails for any fitness level or difficulty.
3. Gunpowder Falls State Park
Like Patapsco Valley, Gunpowder Falls is broken into several different areas, all found north of the city, in Baltimore and Harford Counties. There is seemingly no end to the hiking trails and variety of landscape you can find here. This author's personal favorite spot is the Pot Rocks (pictured), where the Gunpowder River meets some rapids and creates a beautiful swimming hole that is still ice cold and refreshing on even the hottest days!
If you hike far enough, you can find the fascinating ruins of the historic Jerusalem Mill Historic village hidden among tidal wetlands, steep and rugged slopes, peaceful ponds, and over 120 miles of multi-use trails.
4. Irvine Nature Center
Located right in Owings Mills, the Irvine Nature Center is a wonderful family-friendly place to discover the joys of nature. Centered around a building with rescued animals and numerous educational programs and opportunities, the Irvine Nature Center is home to 211 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. Not only do they have summer camps and educational opportunities for children, but they frequently host "drink and learn" happy hours and other programs for adults, not to mention being a premier wedding venue! This author actually had a beautiful wedding at Irvine Nature Center in 2018.
Whether you are new to Baltimore or a lifelong resident, there is always more to be discovered. If you are looking to enjoy the outdoors in Maryland, feel free to reach out to the locals at Staffordshire Realty and we can point you in the right direction!