Follow the river west from Baltimore, Maryland to discover where America’s industrial revolution took shape. For more than 200 years the Patapsco River Valley has given rise to historic events and scientific advances that transformed the State and the Nation. From the industrious Ellicott Brothers and other settlers who harnessed the river’s falls into power for America’s earliest mills, to the origins of the Historic National Road that moved the country westward. From the Patapsco Female Institute , a nationally renowned educational institute for girls, to the scientific genius of Benjamin Banneker, a free black mathematician who helped layout the streets of Washington D.C.  From national landmark structures like the Ellicott City B&O Station and the Thomas Viaduct, an architectural  wonder of early railroading might, to the ambitious conservation efforts that ultimately resulted in Patapsco Valley State Park–the first of Maryland’s State Parks.


Looking to get outside and be active? There’s a variety of fun recreational activities in the Valley. Whether you’re looking for a paved, stroller friendly path, a robust hike to a beautiful waterfall or a challenging cycling route.

More than 200 miles of trails traverse Patapsco Valley State Park many lead to hidden remnants of yesterday. An iconic swinging bridge and beautiful Cascade Falls await at the Avalon Area.  Amenities include family-friendly picnic and play areas.  A sensory-friendly trail, and a  nature center with seasonal, interpretive programs can be found at the Hilton Area. For a spectacular view of the Valley visit the scenic overlook at the Hollofield Area, or enjoy a leisurely canoe or kayak paddle up river at the Daniels Area.  You can even improve your mountain biking skills at a BMX skills course at Rockburn Branch Park.

In nearby neighborhoods, colorful murals grace urban pathways. A walk along the Built along the old railroad bed of the Catonsville Short Line Path, or the No. 8 Street Car Path and the No. 9 Trolley Trail is reminiscent of an earlier transportation era.


The Patapsco Valley is a wonderful place to discover and appreciate nature. The Patapsco River offers anglers peaceful spots along a stocked river. Bald eagles have returned and recent efforts to restore the river to its natural course are having a positive impact on the health of its aquatic life. Many unique species of wild flowers lie hidden deep in secluded woods as well as birds and other wildlife. You can even explore the wonders of the galaxy at the Banneker Planetarium. Appreciation for and insight into this delicate ecosystem is featured at the Howard County Conservancy’s Nature Center at Belmont where educational guided hikes are offered monthly. In its stewardship capacity Patapsco Heritage Greenway rallies volunteers to remove trash and invasive species, and plant trees. Get your hands dirty and join us for an upcoming event. Better yet, become a member of the organization to help preserve and protect the Valley.


Cultural opportunities abound in the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area. Unique exhibits, exciting lectures, dance and theater productions, and an array of musical performances take place throughout the year. Each summer, outdoor music fills the air at multiple venues including the  Lurman Woodland Theatre a beautiful, naturally wooded outdoor amphitheater.  Shakespearean actors take the stage amidst historic ruins at the Patapsco Female Institute Historical Park and weekend festivals bring live music to the Main Streets of Catonsville and Ellicott City. One of Maryland’s largest July 4th celebration includes a parade down the Historic National Road popular evening fireworks display. Easels can be found along streets and the river banks as artists flock to PAINT IT! a popular plein air weekend. Shoppers are sure to find the perfect gift at one of the artist-owned and operated fine art galleries featuring paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, fine woodworking and prints by local artists.

Preserve. Protect. Interpret. Restore.

Patapsco Heritage Greenway, the non-profit managing organization of the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area, is dedicated to preserving, protecting, interpreting, and restoring the environment, history, and culture of Maryland’s most dramatic river valley for the enjoyment of all.