Parks & Playgrounds North Of Baltimore For Summer Fun

Parks & Playgrounds North Of Baltimore For Summer Fun

Outdoor recreation options are numerous for those who visit Harford and Baltimore counties. Travel north of Baltimore City on either US Route 1 (aka Belair Road) or I-95, and you will find parks, hiking trails, and playgrounds for summer fun. As an outdoor enthusiast, I’ve been to all of these parks and happily share them with you.

A walk along the river

Gunpowder Falls River
Source: Kurt Jacobson

Gunpowder Falls State Park has a trail just off Route 1/Belair Road in Perry Hall. You can tell when the weather and hiking conditions are good by the number of parked cars in the lot and sometimes parked along US Route 1. This kid-friendly and dog-friendly trail follows the clear-running Gunpowder River in a forested setting. A hike of about 20 minutes upstream will take you to the scenic waterfall. As waterfalls go, this is just a baby, but the pool it creates is a beautiful swimming spot on hot summer days. Next to the trailhead find the Gunpowder Lodge serving libations, lunch, and dinner. Outback find a playground and picnic tables.

Not far from the Gunpowder Falls Trail is a new playground located next to the Perry Hall Library. Angel Park was organized by the local community and is attracting a loyal following. Constructed in memory of Ryan Szcybor who died from leukemia as a baby, find a wheelchair-friendly place for all kids to play. An assortment of slides, swings, climbing features and a covered picnic area make this a great summer fun place to be a kid.

A playground and a trail

Annie's Playground
Source: Kurt Jacobson

Further north on Route 1 in Fallston find Annie’s Playground, one of the best in Maryland. Follow directions on their website, and after a short drive through the forest you’ll emerge in a large clearing where the playground is located. Annie’s Playground has slides, a treehouse, puppet theater, baseball area, and memorial gardens. Annie’s Playground was built in tribute to Annie Cumpston who died when struck by a drunk driver. Friends of the family wanted to help turn Annie’s death into something positive and through two years of fundraising, built this spectacular playground.

One end of the Ma and Pa Heritage Trail starts at Annie’s Playground. The trail is on a former railway bed and is 3.3 miles/5.31 km long. Enjoy hiking, biking, or dog walking alongside the field before descending into the forest near a creek. Go a bit further to find an off-leash dog park where dogs have plenty of space to romp. Past the dog park, keep going until you near the end of the trail, where you’ll see a sign pointing to Liriodendron. By taking this fork, you arrive at a historic mansion from 1898. The estate is now an event center for weddings, concerts, and parties. In spring see the colorful Liriodendron (tulip trees) in full hot-pink bloom.

Historic Chesapeake Bay city

Concord Point Lighthouse
Source: Kurt Jacobson

Concord Point Park is just off I-95 in the historic town of Havre de Grace. Find interpretive markers telling the story of British troops landing here in the war of 1812. The park’s lighthouse is open on most weekends in the summer as is the lighthouse keeper’s home. A walk along the shore takes you by the Duck Decoy Museum and on towards Tydings Park. The kids will love Tydings Park with its playground and picnic tables in a waterfront setting.

For a takeaway food option, check out George’s Original Chicken House for fried chicken and all the delicious side dishes. This small restaurant is close to Tydings Memorial Park or Concord Point Park. For dessert check out Bomboy’s, a local chocolate maker that also has an ice cream shop worth a try.

A very big river

Conowingo Dam
Source: Kurt Jacobson

From Havre de Grace head towards Darlington and find waterfront trails and parks along the way. See the historic Rock Run Grist Mill built in 1800 and walk along the mighty Susquehanna River. Upstream from the grist mill find the Fisherman’s Parking area where full-length views of the massive Conowingo Dam can be seen. In October and November, this is an excellent place to see up to 100 bald eagles congregating near the dam for the abundant fish to feed on. In April and May, the eagles return for the shad fishing, as do human anglers.

Find picnic tables along the waterfront and have lunch while watching the majestic eagles all around you. In summer, just south of the Conowingo Dam on Route One is the dam’s visitor center and swimming pool. The pool is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. For a fee of 6 USD, adults and kids 4 and older can enjoy chilling at the pool. Admission is free for children three and under. The visitors center tells the story of hydroelectric power and is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday-Sunday 10am-3pm.

A hike with a view

Friends Community Park in Forest Hill
Source: Kurt Jacobson

Rocks State Park is well known by locals as a place to hike, picnic, and hang out at Kilgore Falls. The three picnic areas charge a fee to park (2 USD to 5 USD) and use the facilities, but the Kilgore Falls area is free. Note that the Kilgore Falls area parking is small and starting June 29, 2019 visitors will need to call 410-557-7994 to make a reservation for weekend parking. Hikers will love the trail to the King and Queens Seat, a spectacular hilltop view of the area.

Friends Community Park is located in Harford County’s small-town Forest Hill. Find picnic tables, the Ma and Pa Trail, and a fishing pond. This portion of the Ma and Pa Trail is only 1.7 miles/2.73 km but will eventually connect to the rest of the trail to Bel Air. Friends Community Park has ball fields and restroom facilities for visitors. Admission is free, and parking is ample except on some busy weekends.

This is just a sampling of the dozens of parks and playgrounds north of Baltimore. By searching the Maryland State Parks, visit Harford County, or Baltimore County Parks links you’ll find even more places full of summer fun for everyone.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Kurt Jacobson is a Baltimore-based freelance travel writer who is a former chef traveling the world in search of great food, interesting people, fine wine, nature, fishing, and skiing. New Zealand,...Read more

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