The Avalon Area of Patapsco Valley State Park is sort of an oasis of green space nestled in the western armpit formed by I95 and I895, the Baltimore Beltway. In the 1800s this was a very active mill area, but we all know how that worked out. Back in 1972 Hurricane Agnes flooded the Patapsco Valley and wreaked havoc on the Avalon Area, washing out the western entrance to the park. This was probably a blessing in disguise, as restoration funds weren't enough to replace that road - so instead they were used to improve trails and historical areas.
Carl and I started outside the park, on th Ellicott City side and crossed the river on the pedestrian bridge that was added several years ago - eliminating the need to sneak across the active railroad bridge behind it. The B&O railroad freight line is still active through the valley, but we didn't see any trains this weekend.
From there it was about 1.5 miles to the old swinging bridge that crosses the river once again, and a short hike to Cascade Falls.
There is usually at least one wedding/engagement photo op going on but even though it was a warm day, late November probably isn't a common time for that kind of thing. There were many markings for some kind of 50K ride/run - perhaps they were practicing for the JFK 50K run on the Appalachian Trail/C&O Canal Towpath earlier this month.
We did the 2.3 mile Cascades Loop, being passed by many mountain bikers and trail runners. We then stayed on the southern side of the river on the River Trail which is really the old road that Agnes wiped out. There is about a half mile missing stretch that requires a bit of climbing up and down the reamining embankment, but it isn't all that challenging.After about 5.5 miles total, we were pack to the car in plenty of time to listen to the radio to see what new way the Redskins would figure out in order to lose yet another game...