We never seem to get enough of Patapsco Valley! This state park is massive and there are so many different areas to explore. When we first started getting into hiking, a friend recommended the Soapstone Trail in PVSP and we went so much! This is a great trail for beginners or someone who just wants a quick hike. It’s got just enough incline to get your heart pumping but only takes about an hour to complete. And to make it even better, Heavy Seas Brewing is less than 5 miles away.
THE HIKE: Patapsco Valley State Park – Soapstone Trail
Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 290 ft
Time: 1-1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Biking
Parking: Large lot off road
Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland’s second largest state park, running 32 miles along the Patapsco River. Its 16,000 acres span into Howard, Carroll, and Baltimore counties. The busiest area of the park, Avalon, is where you’ll find Cascade Falls, one of Maryland’s most popular hiking spots. Be aware though, due to its popularity, certain entrances at PVSP hit capacity and have to close. Plan accordingly if you want to visit here in the summer months!
We always like the Soapstone trail because it doesn’t use the main entrance of the park and we’ve never had trouble parking. The trailhead is right off S. Rolling Hill Road where there is a very large gravel pull off area. This hike is very popular but even on the weekends we’ve always found a spot in this lot. Please note: if you decide to do this trail by starting at the park’s main entrance, there is an entry fee!
This hike is an easy 3 miles. The first half is taking a meandering path down through the woods. Be sure to add on the Bull Run loop at the 1 mile marker. Then continue down to a joining of two streams. At this point there is a larger stream crossing to get to another parking lot where there are bathrooms. Then, you take the more direct path of the opposite side of the stream to go back up the ridge. This is where you’ll encounter a few steeper spots, but they are very doable.
This is really a great trail for beginner hikers or anyone short on time. Just be aware that it is a popular trail with both hikers and mountain bikers so be prepared to share the road! And when you’re ready to kick back and relax, Heavy Seas is the perfect spot for you!
THE BEER: Heavy Seas Brewery
Address: 4615 Hollins Ferry Rd, Halethorpe, MD 21227
Distance from Trail Head: 3.5 miles, 7 mins
H&H Rating: 4/5
Heavy Seas Brewing is one of the OG Maryland craft breweries. They’ve been around since 1995 and have been brewing their headliner Loose Cannon IPA since 2004 so they know what’s up. Heavy Seas is one of the largest craft breweries in Maryland, producing over 40,000 barrels of beer in 2020. Despite this huge production, their taproom in Halethorpe had a cozy, neighborhood feel. The main room had wooden tables with a large bar area. There also is a larger second seating area in the production facility with large yard games like jenga, connect 4, and corn hole. We sampled a flight in the taproom and my favorite was definitely the Great’er Pumpkin. It was delicious but really packs a punch! It was just what I needed after a crisp morning in the woods. J’s favorite of the day was the Dark Anchor Porter which is an English style porter so it had a bit more of a hoppiness to the roasty flavor.
Despite living in Maryland for 4 years, this was our time at Heavy Seas! I’m so glad that we got to try some of the small batch beers in the taproom. We’ll definitely be back soon!
- Dark Anchor – Porter – 6.8%
- Honey Graham Porter – Porter – 8%
- Treat – Sour Ale – 7%
- The Great’er Pumpkin – Pumpkin Beer – 10%
SUM UP: Patapsco Valley State Park is one of the largest parks in Maryland. It has several different areas to hike but one of our favorites is the Soapstone Trail. This is a short hikes that’s great for beginners or for those looking for a quick hike. It’s got some elevation changes so I’ve rated it as moderate. There’s a large parking lot on the side of the road near the trailhead and there’s no entrance fee. Afterward, head to Heavy Seas Brewery only 3.5 miles away to sample some of Maryland’s favorite brews. Heavy Seas is one of the largest breweries in Maryland but you can’t beat getting beer from the source! They have a great neighborhood feel to their taproom that makes you want to stay awhile. Be sure to try either one of their headliners or sample a unique small batch; Heavy Seas has got it all!