Parks showcase the great outdoors

October 26, 2003|By Amanda Angel | Amanda Angel,SUN STAFF

Harford County's more than 75 parks, recreation centers, conservation centers and municipal playgrounds cater to all outdoors lovers. Fishing, hiking, canoeing, athletics and bird calling are a sampling of the activities offered at these areas, which boast waterfalls, miles of trails, museums and farms as a backdrop.

State parks

The two largest parks in Harford County are state parks, and a significant chunk of a third crosses into the area. Each one has several activities and facilities for visitors that can be reviewed through the state Web site: www.dnr.state.md.us.

Rocks State Park, named for the large boulders that line Deer Creek, encompasses 855 acres along the creek in northern Harford County. The park is eight miles northwest of Bel Air on Route 24.

Its best-known feature is the King and Queen Seats, a 190-foot-high rock outcrop, which the Susquehannock nation once used as a ceremonial site. Hikers and rock climbers can view several area farms from the cliff.

The park has 3.5 miles of trails, and fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and tubing are available on Deer Creek. There are also several playgrounds, picnic areas and pavilions on the grounds, which include two other attractions, Falling Branch Area and Hidden Valley Natural Area.

Falling Branch, which takes up 67 acres of the state park and is five miles north of Rocks, showcases natural wildlife and Kilgore Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Maryland.

Hidden Valley Natural Area, also five miles north of Rocks, at Madonna, Telegraph and Carea roads, offers hiking trails and fishing on its nonmaintained land along Deer Creek.

Information: 410-557-7994.

Susquehanna State Park, at 2,500 acres, is the largest tract of publicly owned land in Harford County. It also offers a large range of sightseeing and activities for visitors. A river allows for fishing and boating. The grounds also include a campsite, picnic area and several historical sites. Bow and waterfowl hunting, and several miles of hiking and mountain biking trails are also available.

The Rock Run Historical Area trail leads visitors past the 200-year-old Rock Run Grist Mill, which is still working. Weekend tours of the mill, Jersey Toll House and Archer Mansion are offered May through September. Remains of the Susquehanna Tidewater Canal are also in the Historical Area.

Susquehanna State Park is also home of the privately run Steppingstone Museum. Exhibits include antique farm implements, woodwright shop, blacksmith shop, decoy carving shop and restored farmhouse. Steppingstone Museum also holds special events throughout the year. Information: 410-939-2299.

Gunpowder State Park, which encompasses Little and Big Gunpowder Falls and 100 miles of trails, lies mainly in Baltimore County but has several attractions that land on the Harford side of the river. Sweet Air, 1,250 acres of undeveloped land with many hiking, cycling and equestrian trails, rests mainly in Harford.

Jerusalem Village, next to the Little Gunpowder Falls, is also in Harford County and contains a restored historic village with a blacksmith shop and gun factory. The Jerusalem Mill, at 2813 Jerusalem Road in Kingsville, houses park headquarters and a small museum. Several trails to the falls can be accessed from the village.

Information: 410-592-2897.

Local parks

Harford County lists more than 75 county parks, recreation centers and conservation complexes on its Web site, www.co.ha.md.us/parks_rec/, that vary from more than 400 acres to a half-acre in size. Some are maintained for passive use and nature preserves, others offer athletic fields; some are on the water and have piers. There are also parks of historical significance, or with educational programs.

Detailed descriptions of Harford County's parks are on the Web at www.co.ha.md.us/parks_rec/parks.html. More information: 410-638-3572.

Aberdeen Festival Park, 2.5 acres at Howard and Franklin streets in Aberdeen, often accommodates concerts, festivals and other outdoor activities in its pavilion. The landscaped park also has picnic tables, a playground and walking path. 410-939-6767.

Eden Mill Park and Nature Center, at 1617 Eden Mill Road in Pylesville, offers programs for adults and children sponsored by the Eden Mill Nature Committee. Tours, hiking, canoe launching, picnicking and fishing are some of the activities available on the 57 acres. 410-836-3050.

Flying Point Park off Kenard Avenue in Edgewood has 16 acres on the water. It offers pavilions, picnic tables, a fishing pier and a boat launch, as well as horseshoe pits, tennis and volleyball courts. 410-612-1606.

Heavenly Waters Park, at 421 acres, is one of the largest county parks, with a variety of activities to match. The Liriodendron Mansion is on its grounds, as are the Harford County Equestrian Center, playing fields, playground and a fishing pond. It is 0.5 mile west of Business U.S. 1, near Harford Mall in Bel Air. 410-638-3528.

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