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Best Summer Backpacking Trips Near Baltimore

May 3, 2014 6:00 AM

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(credit: sugarloafmd.com)

(credit: sugarloafmd.com)

Maryland is a state full of parks and Maryland parks are full of hiking trails. With all of these locations, it may be difficult to pick through all of the options to find the premier few paths worth the trip. This list includes trails that are a convenient trip for folks living in the Baltimore area. Among these trails are challenges for seasoned hikers and easier treks for novices, but all chock full of scenery and Maryland State history.

Appalachian Trail

(credit: dnr.maryland.gov)

Appalachian Trail (Crampton’s Gap to Harpers Ferry)
Crampton’s Gap Trailhead
1000-1036 Arnoldstown Road
Jefferson, Md. 21755
(877) 620-8367
www.dnr2.maryland.gov

The Appalachian Trail extends the entire length of the East Coast and is one of the most popular hiking trails in the United States. The leg of the trail that stretches through Maryland is almost 40 miles long, and includes plenty of lodging, shelters, campgrounds and picnic areas. The hiking enthusiasts in Baltimore who are only looking for a good day trip might consider the stretch between Cramptons Gap and Harpers Ferry. At close to 10 miles, this hike is nevertheless a fairly easy trek with very little climbing involved. The scenery is also well worth it. Highlights include secluded forest ridge gaps, and a vista view of the historic Chesapeake and Ohio (C and O) Canal Towpath. This is a popular walk, so prepare to meet plenty of fellow hikers on the way.

Upper Loch Raven Reservoir 
State Highway 146 S.
Cockeysville, Md. 21093
(877) 620-8367
www.lochraventrails.com

The Loch Raven is a placid and beautiful stretch of water surrounded by gently sloping mountains and fresh air. This area is popular for fishing, swimming, canoeing and, of course, hiking. The path is not as well-traveled as some, so hikers are in for a peaceful and beautiful out-and-back walk of about eight miles.

(credit: sugarloafmd.com)

(credit: sugarloafmd.com)

Sugarloaf Mountain Loop
Sugarloaf Mountain
7901 Comus Road
Dickerson, Md. 20842
(301) 874-2024
www.sugarloafmd.com

Sugarloaf Mountain is an improbable peak that rises above the otherwise flat Maryland farmland. The path winding up to the top of the mountain and looping back down is about six miles. The hike up can be challenging, but short, terminating in a breathtaking view from the White Rock overlook. The path back down allows the hiker to relax from the uphill climb. There are other paths branching off from the main trail for true adventurers. For the best experience, be sure to pick up a map at the park entrance.

Related: Ask A Baltimore Guide: Tips For Your Next Campout

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

C&O Canal Towpath 
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
1850 Dual Highway
Hagerstown, Md. 21740
(301) 739-4200
www.nps.gov/choh

The C&O Towpath extends through three states, passing through a number of remote towns and civil war battle sights. Full of remote stretches and camping areas, it would be easy to make an entire summer vacation out of this walk. There are plenty of remote areas that would suggest the backpackers supply themselves with provisions for the trip, but there are also a number of towns the trek passes through for restocking. Due to the popularity of this path, it would be wise to arrange lodging ahead of time for a summer vacation.

Avalon Super Loop
Patapsco Valley State Park
6113-6117 River Road
Elkridge, Md. 21075
(410) 461-5005

The Avalon Super Loop may be a somewhat strenuous 12-mile hike, but the sights make it well worth the trip. Filled to the brim with ancient artifacts, including abandoned houses and park stations, ancient tractors and gas pumps from a bygone era, a dated aqueduct system and some of the best waterfalls in Maryland, the Loop takes the hiker through the entire Avalon Patapsco State Park. Hikers may enjoy a picnic lunch at the benches along the river, or enjoy a BBQ in the parking lot when they finish the trail. Bring $4 for the parking fee.

Joel Furches is a freelance writer and researcher for The Examiner and Logos Software, and also manages his own catalog of writing on Hub Pages. Joel is on the board of directors for Ratio Christi. He has a bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Education.

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