Self-Guided Opportunities
Location Gunpowder Falls State Park, Big Gunpowder Trail, Central Area, 410-592-2897
Trail Access Parking area and trailhead are where Route 1 (Bel Air Road) crosses the Big Gunpowder Falls, about 5.4 miles north of I-695 (the Beltway). Follow the white blazed trail on the southwest corner of the bridge near the restaurant/tavern.
Distance 4.8 miles (one way to Harford Road)
Time 3 to 4 hours
Trail Trail runs between Bel Air Road and Harford Road. Trail is a single-track dirt surface on mostly level terrain. It follows the floodplain of the Big Gunpowder Falls and involves some stream crossings.
Skill Level Easy to moderately difficult
Suitable For Families? Yes, with older children
Hazards/Restrictions No motorized vehicles. Trail can be muddy, especially in spring. Be careful of stream crossings during higher water. Do not cross if water is flowing over the rocks.
Potable Water Carry in your own water.
Natural Features Floodplain trail in a piedmont river valley gorge along the Big Gunpowder Falls visits hardwood forest and crosses several streams. Great blue heron and beaver habitat.
Historic/Cultural Features Where the trail crosses Sawmill Branch, the transformer building is near the site of Fox's Sawmill, which dates to 1850. As the trail approaches Harford Road, a stone cottage across the river was once the Gunpowder Copper Works (1804-1883). This sheet and bolt mill produced the copper dome of the U.S. Capitol after the War of 1812.
Camping Organized youth group primitive camping nearby at Camp Cone. Call the park office to reserve, 410-592-2897.
Other Points of Interest Several other trails leave from the same parking area on Bel Air Road.
Other Accommodations Hotels/motels located in White Marsh off Route 43.
Service Charges or Permits Youth group camping permit fees only.
Description On the south bank, the riverside path travels from Bel Air Road to Harford Road, running the length of a deep gorge. Views of the river show boulders and cobbles and great blue heron and beaver habitat. Retrace your steps and return by the same route, unless you have spotted a car at Harford Road. Although the trail is mostly level, it is rough in some sections.

Resources Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
  • Small first aid kit
  • Water and a snack
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Adequate footwear
  • Compass
  • Rainwear
  • Check for ticks upon returning