Best Water Hikes Near Baltimore
The height of mid-Atlantic summer days are upon us. With highs in the 90s and heat indices in the 100s, it can be hard to find a way to get outside. Luckily, Baltimore has no shortage of kid-friendly hikes that include rivers and streams where little ones (and their grown ups) can cool down with some water play!
Cromwell Valley Park has tons of great hiking trails, but few people realize that there is also a stream that’s perfect for water play! Park in the lot near the nature center and head down the Lime Kiln Trail (right next to the bridge on the entrance road). You’ll immediately see stream access from the trail. You can hop in there or venture farther down the trail for other water play options!
Double Rock Park
Double Rock Park continues to be a hidden gem in the Parkville neighborhood of Baltimore County. Not only does it offer tons of beautiful, shady hiking trails, you can access water throughout almost the entire park. There are multiple trail options within the park that provide access to the stream. Start by parking in the first parking lot as you enter the park. Head towards the back corner of the parking lot and you can snap a picture of a trail map before you head out.
You can pick up the yellow trail via the trailhead at the back corner of the lot for a meandering trail along the water. You can also head down the steps from the parking lot that lead towards the playground. From there, turn right onto the paved path to pick up the blue trail. Following this trail does require a rather wide water crossing, but hikers will be rewarded with a great view of the cascading water falls that are hidden within.
Honeygo Run Regional Park
You may be familiar with the playground at Honeygo Run Park in White Marsh, but did you know that there is also a trail with water access? The stream is nothing to write home about, but it will certainly keep little ones happy! To access the trail, head to the back of the park towards the woods. You’ll see the trailhead right behind the football fields.
Patapsco Valley State Park
The Cascade Falls area at Patapsco Valley State Park is probably one of the more popular water hikes in Baltimore. With a stunning waterfall and a little swimming hole, this spot is usually busy. The best spot to park for easy access to the falls is within the Orange Grove Area. The parking area has some portable toilets on the left as well as access to a swinging bridge on the right. The access the falls, follow the trail up the hill on your left. Finding the falls can prove tricky, so be sure to ask for directions if you aren’t sure where to go!
Patapsco Valley also offers water access at the McKeldin Rapids in the McKeldin Area of the park. While there are rapids within this section of the water, there are also shallow areas that allow visitors to access the water safely!
Patapsco Valley State Park does charge an entry fee and can fill to capacity on nice days. It’s wise to arrive early if you want to ensure a spot.
Parking for Gunpowder Falls at Route 1 is closed for construction through late Fall 2020.
Gunpowder Falls is a great option for those looking for a hike with water access. Not only is the trail extremely shady, you can access the water from almost any point. Park at the Route 1/Kingsville lot and pick any trailhead that you’d like. No matter which way you go, you’ll be able to veer slightly off the trail for a dip in the water. Afterwards, hop off the trail at the Gunpowder Lodge (across Route 1 from the parking lot) to fill up hungry bellies!
Historic Jerusalem Mill
Jerusalem Mill is another spot where visitors can access the Gunpowder Falls for some water play. To find access points to the water, head towards the river behind the mill. There you’ll see spots where little ones can splash and play! This is a great option for families that want the ability to play in the water without the need to hike to it!
Hammerman Beach is another very popular spot in Baltimore County and different from the river access provided in most of these other water features. Hammerman is a full-fledged beach area (minus the waves of the ocean). You can claim a spot on the sand and let little ones run in and out of the shallow water until their hearts are content. There is a fee to access this area and it can be crowded on hot, weekend days. It’s best to arrive early or to go at an off-peak time such as a weekend if you want to ensure a spot!