Patapsco Valley State Park (Avalon Area), Ellicott City, MD
Don’t get me wrong here: Patapsco is a fine network and it’s great to have such a varied riding venue so close to Baltimore. But #1 in the whole state and #28 in the entire nation? As good as it is, Patapsco has a few fatal flaws that prevent it from being a #1 trail.
First and foremost, there is a major roadway running right smack down the center of the park. At most points in the park, I am acutely aware that I am adjacent to a major population center. And while the park has a good variety of trails and obstacles, it has the feel of all these things being mostly cobbled together in random fashion. Individual sections have their own unique flow, but the overall park has no flow or coherence. Normally, I’m a big fan of variety in a ride, but this is just a hodgepodge, and the hodgepodge leans far too heavily on the log pile to provide technical entertainment. There are log piles everywhere; sure they add technical features to the trail, but they do get old after a while. Also all the crumbling historical structures and artifacts may make for an interesting history lesson, but they also detract from what is supposed to be an outdoor experience.