Route: Patapsco Valley State Park Traverse (MD)


A 35 mile traverse of Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland, between Sykesville Rd to the NW and Washington Blvd in Elkridge to the SE.  Mostly trails, with a bit of roads to connect.

Route outline provided by Patrick Blair:

Patapsco Full Traverse North to South travels from the northernmost point of The Patapsco Valley State Park to the southernmost point (or reverse).  Due to the variety of possible routes and the creation of new trails/routes every year, this FKT will be more of a generalized guideline for what you need to do in order to meet the requirements of the FKT.

Any valid FKT attempt must follow a route that is at least 50 kilometers. Try to keep off the roads and in the trails as much as possible.

Route Guidelines:

  • START: You must start in Sykesville, MD on Sykesville Road (or end here if you run the opposite direction).  

  • Take River Road until you see the trailhead to enter into the park.  Follow the trails to get to the McKeldin North Area.  

  • Follow the Patapsco-McKeldin trail to get to the Patapsco-McKeldin Area. McKeldin connects to Woodstock.  Travel through Woodstock until you cross over Old Court Road. At the Old Court Road intersection, you may choose:

    • Go over the Old Court bridge to the Howard County side 

    • Go under the bridge to stay on the Baltimore County side.

  • Connect Daniels Area to Pickall Area.  From Pickall Area you can take Pickall Trail / Patapsco Thru Trail until you get to Oella/Ellicott City.  

  • From Oella/Ellicott City, you will have to leave the trails to get to the next part of Patapsco.  

    • One option is to take Oella Road -> Old Frederick Road -> Thistle Road and enter into the park on the Patapsco Thru-Trail at the Hilton Area.

  • Go through the Hilton Area until you get to the Glen Artney Area. 

  • From Glen Artney you need to get to Avalon Shelter #105.  To do so you may choose:

    • Going across the swinging bridge to Howard County side.

    • Stay on the Baltimore County side.

  • Whichever you choose, you must stay on the trails and avoid the pavement.

  • FINISH: Once you have made it to the large Avalon Shelters #105 the FKT is completed!  


Aaron Iles provided an updated route that minimizes pavement & crosses the entire park as much as possible:

This 35 mile traverse of Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland goes from Sykesville 

Road in the NW and Southwest Area Park in the SE. Due to the creation/decommission of trails 

each year, the route is flexible but must meet these conditions: 

1) start/end on River Road under Sykesville Road (39.362165, -76.967189) 

2) maximize use of trails 

3) minimize use of roads/pavement 

4) end/start at Southwest Area Park boat ramp (39.234736, -76.622923) 

These conditions were carefully chosen to ensure that the route traverses as much of 

the park as possible. The shortest route that meets these conditions is likely at least 34 miles 

and has been painstakingly documented in this detailed guide. This route suggestion contains 

4.8 mi of unavoidable pavement and 30 miles of trails. 


Here is a detailed guide to Aaron's route:

GPS Track


Hoping to run the thru trail this week--similar to Aaron's route, but maybe staying north of the river in the McKeldin/Woodstock area on the trails that are now marked as the Thru Trail.

Take 2:  planning on running the Thru Trail tomorrow (09/19/2020). 

My attempt yesterday was glorious until it wasn’t. I would recommend stopping the route in the Avalon area, where the park boundaries end. The remaining miles on the BGE access road weren’t easy to navigate and I ended up swashbuckling my way thru brambles only to forge creeks that were at least 40% raw sewage with a hint of industrial chemical pollutants. 


Sorry to hear you had trouble in the Halethorpe area. It can get fairly overgrown this time of year. Best to hold your nose or head further upstream when crossing Herbert Run haha. The park does not end in Avalon though which is why I chose to continue the route through there and to keep the traverse in the spirit of a true "traverse." The Halethorpe area just doesn't get nearly as much traffic as the others. 
Congrats on making it through! 

I am planning on doing Aaron's route soon.  Thank you so much for putting so much effort and detail into this route... I hope to follow it exactly (or as close as possible).  Hope I don't get lost too many times!

I scouted the areas past Avalon Shelter 105 today and as Rachel said, it is nasty.  I plan on finishing at the entrance to the park at the intersection of Park Access Road (Gun Road) and South Street.

Thank you Sean, Rachel, and Aaron for all the great info!