Photos and information from MTBProject.com.
The Tour de Patapsco is a 53.7 mile ride for experienced intermediate and advanced riders that will challenge the technical skills and endurance of even the most accomplished mountain bikers. Although at all times you’ll be within minutes of suburban Baltimore/DC, you’ll feel like you’re on a remote backcountry adventure. Be prepared for steep climbs, fast descents, gnarly rock gardens, hike-a-bike and a portage across the river.
The TdP was originally conceived by local mountain bikers out to link the Avalon/Orange Grove area of Patapsco State Park to the McKeldin area using as much trail as possible. Way back when, the route was not only very challenging, but also notoriously difficult to navigate, featuring plenty of unmaintained trails. Today, through the considerable efforts of the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) and the Park, along with thousands of volunteer hours, installation and improvement of numerous miles of hand-built singletrack have made the TdP easier to navigate and more enjoyable. This is an epic ride on every area mountain biker’s bucket list.
Need To Know
There is one major river crossing, typically 2-3 feet deep and 30-40 feet wide with sandy soil that you’ll ford on foot. It will be too high to cross if there has been recent heavy precipitation (or spring thaw). The ride is best scheduled when the weather is warm enough that getting your feet/legs wet won’t ruin your ride.
An intermediate to advanced rider will finish the route in 7-10 hours, so plan accordingly. The numerous short but steep climbs will wear you down. Bring adequate water, nutrition and repair supplies. While there are some convenience stores and park facilities along the way, you may consider dropping water/food at Old Frederick Road by the green metal bridge (you’ll cross by at miles 14 and 38) and/or the end of the Old Court Road access road (miles 21 and 30). Note that the water inside the park is shut off during the winter season—if in doubt, contact the park.
Most of the trails are poorly marked. The MTB Project mobile app is recommended. Also consider bringing a GPS and/or a printed map. Cell coverage may be poor in some areas.
History & Background
The Patapsco River Valley is rich with history pre-dating the 1800s. Remnants of the old Grist Mill towns, granite quarries and farming areas—along with evidence of the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes—can be found trailside. You’ll ride through historic Ellicott City, founded 1772. Patapsco Valley State Park was established in 1907.
Local Club: Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts
Like what you see? Please support independent publishing by Subscribing To Dirt Rag Magazine today.