Self-Guided Opportunities
Location Catch and release trout fishing on the upper Big Gunpowder Falls River
Gunpowder Falls State Park Hereford area, Baltimore County, 410-592-2897
Mainstem from Prettyboy Reservoir Dam downstream to Bluemount Road.
Access Parking is located where the following roads cross the stream: Falls Road, Masemore Road, Bunker Hill Road, York Road, Big Falls Road and Bluemont Road. These roads are reached via I-83 exit 27 onto Route 137 west, or via I-83 exit 27 onto Route 137 east, right on York Road and left onto Monkton Road.
Suitable For Families? Yes, for older children
Difficulty Advanced
Hazards/Restrictions Anglers aged 16 and over need a freshwater fishing license and trout stamp. This area is restricted to artificial flies or lures only. No bait can be used and all fish must be returned unharmed to the stream. Check the Maryland Freshwater Fishing Guide for current regulations. Wading may be difficult in some areas. The water temperature is always in the mid 50's or below. Wear hip or chest waders. Be aware of tubers, canoeists and kayakers who also share the stream.
Potable Water Water and restrooms are available at Camp Wood on Bunker Hill Road. No facilities are available along the other roads.
Natural Features The Big Gunpowder Falls flows through calm sections and a series of bouldery rapids through hard, erosion-resistant mica schist rock. This area produces habitat for trees adapted to cool, steep and floodplain hillsides, including river birch, cherries, oaks, hemlocks, mountain laurel, dogwood, spicebush, and witch hazel. Early spring wildflower displays include hepatica, bloodroot, spring beauty, rue anemone, and pink ladies slippers. Late summer flowers include goldenrod, asters and woodland sunflowers. Beaver activity in the river, evidenced by gnawed trees, is common. Numerous brown trout thrive in pools in the cool water.
Historic/Cultural Features The stone Foster's Mill, a former grist mill (c. 1797), is located on Masemore Road.
Rentals/Guide Services Backwater Angler on Monkton Road (410-329-6821) rents boots, rods and reels. They also have flies available for purchase and provide the latest updates on river conditions. Backwater Angler provides guided flyfishing for trout, smallmouth bass and panfish (bluegills).

Food is available at several restaurants along York Road in the Hereford Area.
Camping Organized youth group camping is available at Camp Wood on Bunker Hill Road. A private recreation park and campground is located in Freeland.
Other Points of Interest Twenty miles of hiking trails line the river gorge. Raven Rock Falls can be reached via the Gunpowder North Trail on the north bank of the river east of York Road. Nearby is the Northern Central Railroad Trail, a multi-track trail for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Visitors marvel at the massive Prettyboy Dam when reached from the trails below the dam.
Other Accommodations Bed and breakfast facilities are located in Parkton. Hotels are located in the Hunt Valley area. The Mill Pond Cottage, a quaint park-owned home located on Masemore Road, has been renovated for overnight rental accommodations. Call 410-592-2897.
Service Charges or Permits A fee is required for the Maryland Freshwater Fishing License and the trout stamp. Both can be purchased at the Bel Air Regional Service Center or some area sporting goods stores.
Description Excellent fishing for wild brown, brook and rainbow trout. This stream is rated one of the best in the Mid-Atlantic area. The stream provides good hatches of stoneflies, caddisflies and mayflies through the season. Fishing is permitted all year. Current information on stream conditions and hatching activity can be obtained from Backwater Angler in Monkton at 410-329-6821.

The gorge is incredibly scenic and its vegetation on the cool hillsides is reminiscent of western Maryland. Cold water released from the base of Prettyboy Dam maintains a temperature in the mid-50's, even on the hottest days of summer, making the gorge seem refrigerated and allowing for the brown trout to sustain their naturally-reproducing population.

Resources Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
  • A wading staff, fly rods from 7 to 8 feet in length for a #3-#5 line, or ultra light spinning tackle with 1 to 4 pound test line and small spinners
  • Wear good sturdy hiking or wading boots (no felt-soled waders or boots)
  • Be prepared for the extremely cold water temperature
  • First aid kit
  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen