|King and Queen Seat|
Hikers in the Baltimore area who don't want to drive out to Catoctin or South Mountain to go hiking can find a spot closer to home: Rocks State Park. This park sits in a particularly dramatic part of the Maryland Piedmont, in Harford County just miles from the Pennsylvania border. The trail I will describe is a loop hike that uses the White, Green, and Blue Trails in the state park. Driving time from Baltimore is less than an hour.
I headed out from Baltimore on an early May morning, leaving I-695 near Towson at Rte. 146, Dulaney Valley Road. I took Dulaney Valley Road north past the turnoff for Hampton National Historic Site (an interesting place to visit!) north past the bridge over Loch Raven Reservoir. After crossing the reservoir, I turned left to stay on Rte. 146, which turned into Jarrettsville Pike. I continued north on Jarrettsville Pike for about 15 minutes until reaching Rte. 23, Norrisville Road. I turned right at Norrisville Road and drove through Jarrettsville, staying straight at the principal intersection to get onto West Jarrettsville Road. I followed this road for 5 minutes until it started it making a big bend to the right; here, I turned left onto Old Federal Hill Road. I soon reached and turned right onto Chrome Hill Road, from which I had good views of pretty Maryland countryside. A few minutes later, I came to Rocks Chrome Road; I turned left onto this road, which dropped quickly downhill. At the end of the downhill, I turned left into the park headquarters for Rocks State Park.
I parked at the park headquarters and picked up a map there and began my hike. From the parking lot, the White Trail goes east to a second parking area before heading away from the road. Very soon past the second parking lot, there was a fork in the White Trail; I followed the right fork, which ascended a little over 200 feet in less than half a mile to gain the ridgeline of Rocks Ridge. The early spring forest was vibrantly green here.
|White Trail ascending Rocks Ridge|
Once atop the ridge, the White Trail intersected the Red Trail. Here, I took the spur trail to the right, which led briefly downhill and out onto King and Queen Seat. King and Queen Seat form the namesake rocks of the park. This set of rocks towers above a water gap carved by Deer Creek. Unfortunately, King and Queen Seat (like Humpback Rocks near Charlottesville; and any set of road-accessible rocks) is a little too accessible, so graffiti decorated much of the rocks. However, they still formed an impressive natural sight. From atop the rocks, I had a decent view of the Harford County countryside and of the steep cliffs on the other side of the water gap. The rocks were apparently a ceremonial site for the Susquehannock who once lived in the area.
|King and Queen Seat|
From King and Queen seat, I continued counterclockwise on the White Trail. The trail descended briefly, passing a junction with the Purple Trail, which led down to the Deer Creek Rapids, before settling onto a northward extension of Rocks Ridge. This ridge was very enjoyable to hike: along the ridgeline, I found many bushes of mountain laurel, not yet blooming, and many wild azaleas, already blooming.
|Wild azaleas on the White Trail|
|Bridge over Deer Creek at the end of the Green Trail|
|Human artifacts along the Blue Trail nature loop|
I'll end this post by commenting on two other areas in Rocks State Park that I visited after completing this loop. My first stop was at Deer Creek Rapids, which was very close by to the visitor center: to get to it, I continued on Rocks Chrome Rd. to Rocks Road (Rt. 24), which I took north to a roadside parking area. From there, I followed a short path down to the rapids, which were quite impressive.
|Rapids on Deer Creek|