Retreat or Recreation, Rocks State Park Preserves Maryland Traditions

Retreat or Recreation, Rocks State Park Preserves Maryland Traditions

Rocks State Park is part of the Maryland Park Services, which includes over 2,000 campsites, 120 cabins and 100 picnic shelters. The park, formerly named “Deer Creek”, occupies 853 acres in the Deer Creek Valley near the city of Pylesville, Maryland. It’s approximately an hour’s drive just outside of Baltimore, and 1 mile away from Eden Mill Nature Center. Rocks State Park is subdivided into three sections, Rock Ridge, Falling Branch and Hidden Valley.

Rock Ridge, or King and Queen’s Seat: A 190 feet rock outcropping overhanging Deer Creek. Its vertical rock faces scale high as 94 feet, challenging rock-climbing enthusiasts. History buffs can appreciate the landmark King and Queen Seat, formerly the ceremonial destination for Susquehannock and Mingo Indians. The cliff overlooks the majestic hills and rustic farmland of Harford County. Structural remnants from the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad harkens back to days when the railway connected farms and quarries to prosperity.

Falling Branch: Comprises 67 acres, 5 miles north of the Rock Ridge section, adjacent to Deer Creek’s Falling Branch tributary, and is home to Kilgore Falls, a 19 foot natural vertical waterfall, the second highest in Maryland. Wild turkey, red fox, white-tailed deer and woodland birds inhabit this undeveloped area, which has a hiking trail leading to the waterfall, and lacks picnic tables, grills or restrooms. Leashed pets are allowed. A mill site and former stagecoach route are located in the vicinity.

Hidden Valley: Adjacent to Deer Creek, and 5 miles west of Falling Creek. A non-developed area, it provides a breathtaking hiking trail and prime fishing along Deer Creek. There are no picnic tables, grills or restroom facilities. Leashed pets are permitted on the trail.

Hills Grove, Rock Ridge and Wilsons Areas: Day use picnic areas located in the park along Deer Creek. Playgrounds, shelters, and comfort stations are available at each of the three picnic areas.

Each picnic area each is outfitted with tables, grills, restroom facilities and playground equipment. Both Wilsons Areas and Hills Grove also offer handicapped access. Pets are restricted from picnic areas. From April through October, service fees to use picnic areas including weekdays, weekends and holidays, are charged at a rate of $2 per Maryland residents, and $3 for all others. From November through February, picnic areas are open weekends only, at a rate of $2 per vehicle. There is no fee for seniors or children in car seats.

Shelters are open March through October, providing shelter capacity for 150 people. Subject to inclement weather, year round parking spaces are available at Falling Branch, Rapids, and Ma and Pa.

All picnic area pavilions are equipped with electrical outlets, lights, barbecue pit, and picnic tables, and are available to accommodate from 120 to 150 people.

Outdoor enthusiasts will discover hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, tubing activities, and wildlife watching at Rocks State Park. White-tailed deer and wild turkey habitats are found throughout the park. An array of 84 mammal species, 85 reptile and amphibian species, 233 bird species, and 116 fish species claim Maryland as their home. Of these species, 320 species are rare, and 90 species are protected under the state Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act.

The Rocks State Park website provides educational opportunities, including recommended gear and safety tips to visitors, guides, and primers on laws and regulations for birding, hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor recreation.

Hikers can explore 3.5 miles of steep to moderately elevated hiking trails. Trails wind throughout the park, connecting with engaging points of interest. Leashed pets are allowed on hiking trails. Hikers are advised to bring a first aid kit, rain gear, water, snack and compass. Fishers are advised to wear hip boots and waders. Rock climbers are advised to beware copperheads, which frequent the rocks, and bee’s nests.

Canoe rentals, licenses, and park passes are available. Reservations are available year round. Visitors can call, visit or go online. Within the United States, the park is available from 8am-8pm Monday through Friday, EST at 1-888-432-2267. Outside the United States, the reservations hotline is 301-687-8160. The TTY users reservation hotline is 866-804-7846. For online reservations, access Maryland’s Reservation Internet at Reservations are available up to one year before scheduled arrival to Rocks State Park, located at 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville, MD 21084.