Oregon Ridge Park and Playground
13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030, USA
Tuesday through Sunday 9am-5pm; closed Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
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Oregon Ridge Park & Nature Center in Cockeysville, MD.
If you're looking for a family-friendly park in Maryland, check out Oregon Ridge Park and Nature Center, about 18 miles from Baltimore. Originally an iron ore and marble mine in the mid-19th century, the land is now a public park on over 1,000 acres owned by the Baltimore County Department of Parks and Rec.
The central area of the park features the well-maintained Oregon Ridge Nature Center, kid-friendly hiking trails, playgrounds, and the remains of some of the original buildings from the mining village of the 1840s and '50s. The park also features a picturesque lake, although swimming and boating are prohibited.
Throughout the grounds and in the nature center you can check out the birds, reptiles, and small mammals that are housed at Oregon Ridge. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park so make sure to pack a lunch – you’re going to want to spend all day here!
There are too many awesome areas to pick a favorite, but one of the most unique features of Oregon Ridge is the natural play area. Kids can leap across tree stumps, see-saw on a log, and climb up a steep hill with the assistance of a rope, among other things.
The focus of the park is "getting back to nature," and it can be muddy, even a few days after a rain. Dress appropriately and definitely choose footwear that can handle the dirt.
If the natural playground is too muddy for your crew, check out the other section of the park that's just a short drive up the road (turn right when exiting the main entrance and drive about half a miles, you’ll see the driveway and parking lot on your right). There you’ll find a huge playground with a solid rubber surface and tire playground that's great for all weather.
The Oregon Ridge Nature Center is staffed with friendly and knowledgeable park service rangers that will happily answer any questions you may have. You’ll also find trail maps, bathrooms (with changing tables), green space, and a children’s activity area.
Students can learn about the history of the area, rich in natural resources, via Baltimore County Public School's archeological programs to conduct excavations and historical research. There's a self-guided walking tour available, as well as viewing of live excavations, and displays of various artifacts from the former residents and labor force that lived in the former town.
We recommend making this your first stop and planning your visit from there. Oregon Ridge also puts on tons of free events. Check the website before you go to find out what’s planned.
Parking is abundant and there is no fee for entry to the grounds or nature center. The layout of the park does not make it stroller friendly so baby-wearing is the best choice for infants and young toddlers.
The Nature Center makes this a great spot to visit year-round, especially if you can take advantage of one of their events. (Keep in mind that the center is closed on Mondays.) The vast space available in the park also ensures that it’s never overly crowded, even during popular events, which is why this is such a fantastic spot when you're looking for parks near Baltimore.
The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset, March thru October. In the winter (November thru February) the park is open 8 am-5 pm.