The McKeldin area is in the most Northern part of Patapsco, along Marriottsville Road in Carroll County. McKeldin has opportunities for the horseback rider, mountain biker, hiker and disc golfer. This area has miles of multi-use trails, which are very popular with the equestrian community. The Rapids area has drive to picnic spots with access to trails along the river. The Main Branch and the South Branch of the Patapsco River join in the McKeldin area. Rapids along the South Branch are a beautiful but dangerous feature of this section of the park. (Note the Rapids area and the pool below the rapids are closed for swimming due to dangerous currents in this area.)
McKeldin has an 18-hole disc golf course, which provides for challenging play for disc golfers no matter their skill level. Large and small picnic shelters can be reserved in this area for your family gatherings. See if you can find the shelter that has stunning views of the Liberty Reservoir Dam. Mountain bikers will find this section of Patapsco to be challenging and unique with trails that climb in and out of the river valley. This area also has a youth group camping area. Compared to other areas of Patapsco, McKeldin feels more wide open with a slower pace than the rest of the park. There are areas here that are perfect to set up your lawn chair and kick back with a good book or for a kid to explore with their binoculars, butterfly net and magnifying glass. Take a walk on the Medicine Tree Trail using our self-guided nature walk guide or just meander along the Rapids Trail as it follows river side on the South Branch.
- Pets are allowed in the McKeldin Area of Patapsco Valley State Park.
- Dogs must be on a leash at all times in the park.
The McKeldin area of Patapsco Valley State Park offers youth group camping, picnicking, rental pavilions, playgrounds, fishing, ball fields, hiking, mountain biking, equestrian trails and a disc golf course. Hunting is available in designated areas by permit only. Hike, bike or horseback ride scenic valley trails.
Youth Group Entry
Youth Groups arriving after Sunset, must call the park headquarters the day prior to your reservation at 410-461-5005, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to obtain additional information for entry into the park. Park gates lock at Sunset.
There are 10 rental shelters in the McKeldin Area. Make shelter reservations.
Inflatable play equipment and trampolines are prohibited on site without a permit. This permit must be obtained in advance of your event. Guests wishing to obtain a permit should contact the park office at 410-461-5005. Only Shelters areas with adequate space will be issued permits. Please read the Inflatable Play Equipment Notice.
- Shelter #576 – Can accommodate a maximum of 175 guests. Alcohol permits required in advance through the reservation service.
- Shelter #501 - Can accommodate a maximum of 100 guests. Alcohol permits required in advance through the reservation service.
- Shelter #508 – Can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #513 - Can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #515 - Can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #534 - Can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #540 - Can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #545 - Can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #550 - Can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. No alcohol permitted in shelters.
- Shelter #600 – Can accommodate a maximum of 40 guests. Area is open and not a covered structure No alcohol permitted in shelters.
Trail use can be a wonderful way to enjoy this area.
- Rapids Trail (.7 mile) - This trail begins at the southern end of the park, or it can be accessed from the Switchback Trail. The trail's name hints at its destination, one of the park's best-kept secrets, a cascading rapid on the Patapsco River that flows into a large, deep pool of water. This is a great fishing spot for anglers of all ages. Swimming is not permitted due to dangerous undercurrents.
The exposed rocks in this area of the river are a favored sunning spot for several species of snakes, including the northern water snake and an occasional copperhead, one of only two venomous species in Maryland. As a part of our natural world, snakes should be left unharmed. They effectively control populations of small mammals, like mice and rats, as well as provide an important food source for hawks and other predators. The Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act protects all native snakes in Maryland.
- Switchback Trail (4 miles) – This trail begins by the contact station at the top of the hill near the entrance to the park. Hikers of all ages, mountain bikers and equestrians will enjoy this beautiful, riverside trail. The northern part of this trail is foot-use-only, but riders can continue their loop by using the Plantation Trail. During late fall and winter, enjoy a scenic view at the Liberty Dam Overlook located at the end of the trail.
- Plantation Trail (1.4 miles) - This trail, which begins at the basketball courts and horse trailer parking area, is one of the favored equestrian routes. The trail is steep and passes through a series of pine groves, running along one of the highest ridges in the McKeldin Area.
- Tall Poplar Trail (1.4 miles) - This trail can be accessed from Shelter #576 or across the road from the basketball courts. Aptly named for the impressive tulip poplar trees that are found along the way, you will have an opportunity to hike or ride the wide variety of terrain that McKeldin has to offer. The trail traverses moderately steep slopes, connecting riverside habitats to hardwood forests and open fields.
- Medicine Tree Trail (.3 mile) - This trail begins at the youth group camping field parking lot. A short loop, the trail is quite rocky and includes a bridge over a deep ravine
- Spring Glen Trail (.7 mile) - This loop trail begins across the lane from the contact station located at the entrance to the park, and will give you an opportunity to check out the McKeldin Area right from the start.
Tips for trail users:
- Wear appropriate foot wear
- Know your route and be prepared for emergencies
- Carry water and a snack
- First aid kit and safety equipment reccommended
- Dress for the weather
- Let someone know your itinerary and route – cell phones are not reliable in the valley
- Help us sustain our trails. Avoid trail use in wet conditions. We recommend you wait at least 24 hours after a rain event before venturing out along the trails again.
Horseback riding is especially popular on trails in this area. In addition to several miles of maintained trails there are miles of non-maintained trails that the horseback rider will find enjoyable. Horse trailers can be parked in the field adjacent to the basketball court.
Disc Golf Course – A Nationally known Disc Golf Course flows throughout the McKeldin Area. Eighteen challenging holes provide a popular past time for families and groups as they take on forested fairways, open fields and pin locations that can be fun and challenging for both the amateur and professional disc golfer. The objective is much the same as ball golf, but players use a disc instead of a ball and clubs. The player's goal is to put the disc in the "hole" or basket in the fewest number of throws.
Fishing – There are fishing opportunities in this area where the North and South Branches of the Patapsco River converge. Fast moving water and shallow pools make for excellent trout fishing in the Spring.
Swimming is allowed in all areas along the river unless posted otherwise. In this area swimming is prohibited in the rapid area and the pool below the rapids. This is an unguarded swim at your own risk area, and as with all areas of the river, swimmers should be cautious of swift currents, and sharp stones along the river bottom.
A Basketball Court is available for general use. You must provide your own equipment.
Bring your own equipment.
McKeldin Service Charges
April through October
Monday through Friday: $2 per vehicle in-state; $4 per vehicle out-of-state
Buses: $10 per bus (a bus is a vehicle that holds more than 9 passengers)
Weekends and Holidays
$3 per person in-state, $5 per person out-of-state
Buses: per person
November through March
Honor System in effect: $2 per vehicle in-state; $4 per vehicle out-of-state
Buses: $10 (a bus is a vehicle that holds more than 9 passengers)
Admitted Free: Children buckled in safety seats, senior citizens 62 & older with the Golden Age Pass (requires one-time $10 administrative fee – information available at http://www.dnr.maryland/gov/publiclands/goldenage.asp), people with the Access Maryland State Park Pass for persons with disabilities, members of the Maryland National Guard & all active duty military personnel who display their active military identification card (complimentary access is permitted for card holder only).
Entry service charges are not included in pavilion/shelter rental costs; they are in addition to those costs. Those wanting to prepay the service charges need to contact the park office before the reservation date.
From I-695/I-70 West take I-70 to Marriottsville Rd. ( Exit 83). Go North on Marriottsville Rd. for 4 miles to the park entrance on the right.
From I-70 East take Rt. 40 to Marriottsville Rd. Turn left. Park entrance is 5 miles on the right.
From Rt. 26 take Rt. 26 to Marriottsville Rd. Go South 4 miles, park entrance is on the left.
Patapsco Valley State Park
11676 Marriottsville Road
Marriottsville MD 21104
GPS 39.35982 76.89112
Main Office: 410-461-5005
Hours of Operation
9 a.m. to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
Contact the Park Service
- Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
- Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
- Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
- Email Us