Patuxent Branch Trail

  • Size: 250.7 acres; linear, rather narrow tract along the Little Patuxent River between Lake Elkhorn and Vollmerhausen Road, extended to Savage Park.
  • Habitat: Mostly floodplain with deciduous woods on some steep slopes (former granite quarries) along the southern half of the trail; a few wooded wetlands in the northern half. A major transmission line in the southern half and highway crossings in both sections provide openings. Restored Pratt Bridge (ca. 1901) divides the path almost in half.
  • Best Months: April/May and September/October.
  • Coverage Time: From less than an hour to half a day or more if extensions at either end are followed.
  • Trails/Paths: This 3.5 trail runs along the Little Patuxent River between Lake Elkhorn on the north and Vollmerhausen Road near Savage on the south. The northern section, from Lake Elkhorn to the Pratt Bridge, is paved. This is the sunnier portion; it also passes through or near several wooded wetlands. The southern section, from the bridge to Vollmerhausen Road, is packed stone dust. This is the shadier section; seepage areas can be muddy during extended wet periods. The entire trail passes under major highways so traffic noise in their vicinity can be noticeable, especially during rush hours.
  • Notable Birds: Olive-sided Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Golden-winged Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Pine Siskin, White-winged Crossbill.
  • Amenities: A very few benches; a picnic table near the bridge. Paved parking at Lake Elkhorn's lots (see Lake Elkhorn site guide); packed earth and asphalt lot for a dozen cars at the Pratt Bridge west of Guilford Road; and a paved lot with a portable toilet west of the entrance on Vollmerhausen Road is shared with Wincopin Trail.
  • Handicapped Access: Most sections of the trail are level with a few gentle slopes. Wooden bridges can be slippery when wet. The paved northern section offers easier walking than the southern.
  • Operation and Hours: Howard County and Columbia open space; managed by Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks; dawn to dusk.
  • Special Attractions: Historic Pratt Bridge, spring wildflowers in southern half during late April and early May, and easy walking along the Little Patuxent River.
Patuxent Branch Trail thumbnail
Compilers: Tom Miller and Joanne Solem

© 2009