I know when most people think about Baltimore, will think of urban landscapes. Baltimore is well known for its Inner Harbor and downtown neighborhoods so it may come as a surprise that the city is also home to some of the most beautiful and wild natural landscapes in Maryland.
From lush parks to secluded woodland trails, Baltimore is teeming with outdoor adventures waiting to be explored. Here are seven of the best natural landscapes in Baltimore that are perfect for a day (or more) of exploration.
1. Druid Hill Park
Druid Hill Park is a historic 745-acre park located just west of downtown Baltimore. The park is home to a variety of trails, gardens, and monuments, as well as the Maryland Zoo. Druid Hill Park is a lovely location to picnic, hike, or simply enjoy the beautiful views. Interesting Fact: Before parks had lawnmowers, one of the earliest employees in a park was a shepherd. His flock of Southdown sheep would take care of the park’s lawns. Interesting, right?
The Rogers family, which was prominent in the early history of Baltimore, owned the majority of what is now known as Druid Hill Park. Nicholas Rogers (son of the first Nicholas Rogers who purchased the property) studied landscape architecture in Glasgow, Scotland, during the late 1700s and became an enthusiast. Nicholas Rogers, a veteran of the American Revolution, is notorious for planting trees in the park and building the original (since destroyed by fire) mansion in the early nineteenth century.
By touring Druid Hill Park, you are not only taking in the beautiful scenery but also getting a glimpse of Baltimore’s rich history.
2. Cylburn Arboretum
Cylburn Arboretum is a 207-acre public garden and park located in north Baltimore. The Arboretum features a variety of gardens, including a native plant garden, a rose garden, and an herb garden. The park also has extensive hiking and nature trails, making it the perfect place to escape the city for a day.
3. Gwynns Falls Park
Gwynns Falls Park is a 16-mile-long linear park that follows the Gwynns Falls river through southwest Baltimore. The park features a variety of trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas, as well as an environmental education center. Gwynns Falls Park is a great place to spend a day hiking, biking, or simply exploring the river valley.
As for the history of this place, the name “Gwynns Falls” comes from Eleanor Gwynn, the wife of Lord Baltimore. In 1669, she sailed up the Chesapeake Bay to what is now known as Baltimore. Gwynn was so taken by the beauty of the falls on the river that she named them after herself.
You’ll get the chance to find a lot of interesting insights about the falls if you go on a tour with an experienced guide.
4. Leakin Park
Leakin Park is a 1,300-acre park located in west Baltimore. The park is home to a variety of trails, forests, and streams, as well as the ruins of a 19th-century mansion. The beauty of the area has made it well-known among local residents. The park is also a hotspot for birdwatchers, with over 250 species known to visit. It’s a wonderful location for a walk or a nature trek, and it’s also popular with birders.
It was once owned by the Carroll family, one of the most prominent families in early Baltimore history. The Leakin Park mansion was built in 1801 by Charles Carroll Jr., son of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1849, but the ruins are still visible today.
The most popular trails in Leakin Park are the Gwynns Falls Trail and the Winans Meadow Trail. The Gwynns Falls Trail is a 13-mile trail that follows the Gwynns Falls river through the park. The Winans Meadow Trail is a shorter, easier trail that leads to a beautiful meadow with views of the city.
And if you know where to look, you can find the remains of the Leakin Park mansion. The best place to start your search is at the Winans Meadow Trailhead.
5. Patapsco Valley State Park
Patapsco Valley State Park is a 32-mile-long state park that follows the Patapsco River through central Maryland. The park features a variety of hiking and biking trails, as well as canoe and kayak rentals. Patapsco Valley State Park is a great place to spend a day outdoors, and it’s also a popular spot for fishing and camping.
People call this park the perfect getaway from busy city life since it offers a lot of opportunities to commune with nature. The best time to come here is during the autumn season when the leaves are changing color. the park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys.
6. Susquehanna State Park
Susquehanna State Park is a 4,000-acre state park located in northeast Maryland. The park features a variety of trails, forests, and streams, as well as a historic district with a 19th-century grist mill and blacksmith shop. Susquehanna State Park is the perfect place to spend a day if you’re looking to go hiking, biking, or simply enjoy some scenic views.
For your history fix, the park is home to the first state-owned rail trail in Maryland. The trail runs for seven miles along the river, providing visitors with stunning views of the river valley. Another interesting historical fact is that the park was once home to a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the 1930s. It was one of many camps across the country that were created to provide employment during the Great Depression. The release of the movie “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1940 brought national attention to the plight of the Dust Bowl migrants, many of whom ended up at the CCC camp in Susquehanna State Park.
7. Gunpowder Falls State Park
Gunpowder Falls State Park is a 17,000-acre state park located in north-central Maryland. The park features a variety of trails, forests, and streams, as well as a number of historical sites. The beautiful fall foliage, combined with a charming village and an iconic suspension bridge, makes Powder Mill Falls State Park a popular day-trip destination for families.
It was originally established as a powder mill in 1810. The site was used to produce gunpowder for the War of 1812. In 1828, the mill was destroyed by an explosion, but it was rebuilt and continued to operate until 1927. Today, the remains of the mill are still visible, and visitors can see the enormous waterwheel that once powered the mill.
The park is also home to the oldest suspension bridge in Maryland. The steel-and-wood bridge was built in 1864 and spans 200 feet across the river. It’s a popular spot for photos, and it’s also open to pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge is one of the many historic sites located in Gunpowder Falls State Park.
As for organizing the trip, here are our most important tips:
- Do your research: make sure to read up on the different natural landmarks in the area so that you can decide which ones you want to visit.
- Book your tickets in advance: especially if you’re planning on visiting during peak season. This will help you avoid long lines and sold-out tickets.
- Check the weather: some of these places may be inaccessible or have limited hours if the weather is bad, so it’s important to check the forecast beforehand.
- Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, especially if you’re planning on hiking or biking.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors!
- Be sure to apply sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy. The last thing you want is to get sunburned on your trip.
- Bring binoculars if you’re interested in birdwatching. You might also want to bring a camera to capture the beautiful scenery.
- Bring a map of the park, as well as a compass or GPS device. That way, you can find your way back to the trailhead if you get lost.
- Be sure to follow all of the park’s rules and regulations. This will help ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Be aware of your surroundings and stay on marked trails. You don’t want to get lost in the wilderness!
- Leave no trace: take your trash with you and be respectful of the park’s plants and animals.
- Book a local Baltimore car service to pick you up and drop you off so you can fully enjoy your day in the great outdoors! That way, all you have to worry about is having fun while your chauffeur takes care of the driving.
- Lastly, remember to pack your sense of adventure! These natural landscapes are sure to give you a memorable experience. And of course, have fun and enjoy your time in nature!
Baltimore is home to a variety of beautiful and wild natural landscapes. From lush parks to secluded woodland trails, there are plenty of outdoor adventures waiting to be explored. So get out there and go wild in Baltimore!