Hike the Deer Creek Trail

2 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Ashley Stimpson

If it's a weekend in the warmer months, chances are the parking lots are full at Central Maryland's popular state parks. Palmer State Park isn't just a Plan B; it's a pristine reserve, undeveloped and begging to be bushwhacked. As a bonus, you'll be all alone...for now.

Because Palmer State Park is still under development (with no timeline given for its completion), there are only a few trails that meander through this 555-acre reserve. Palmer's official website offers a not-so-helpful topographical map, but the easiest way into the park that I could find was near the bridge (Old Forge Rd) over the Deer Creek. As you cross the bridge heading south, you'll see a small pull-off on your left, suitable for one or two cars. 

The trail starts just beyond the road's east guardrail. From there, you can take a short path down to the water to marvel at some angsty graffiti and the muddy shallows, or you can continue to head east, following the tranquil Deer Creek for roughly a mile. The trail is worn enough to discern as it twists away from and back to the creek indiscriminately. There are a few ideal spots to lay down a blanket and picnic on the sandy banks while your dogs cool themselves in the slow current. 

History buffs will dig Palmer for its ruins. The remains of the Husband Flint Mill and Deer Creek Iron Works are scattered about the forest. You'll find old foundations and an impressive stone wall, now buried in moss. Keep your eyes down and you may find other, more personal artifacts from the mill village that used to populate this area. 

The trail ends rather unceremoniously, dissolving back into the forest in front of you. The temptation to bushwhack is almost too much to resist. 

On this particular Sunday, I met zero people but at least a dozen toads. Palmer State Park is open for fishing and paddling, but you'll have to launch from a nearby area (ideally Rocks State Park). Hiking in the park feels a little like stealing a sneak preview, or getting a glimpse of everyone's future favorite outdoor spot. Don't miss the chance to say you hiked Palmer State Park before it was cool.  

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Beautiful Solitude

A great place to get away from the crowds at some of the busier parks in the area. Quiet trek along the wooded riverbank.

Stay Nearby

Kennedyville, Maryland

Crow Vineyard & Winery Cottage

We are a third-generation working farm that has diversified to become a successful farm-winery. Our 365-acre farm includes a herd of Grass-fed Angus beef, soy and corn, farm animals, and a Farmstay...

From $200/night

Manheim, Pennsylvania

1760's Farm Guest House

The Landis Farm Guest House is centrally located in Lancaster County, home to PA Dutch Country attractions and shopping. Our location also offers easy access to Spooky Nook, Hershey, Sight and Soun...

From $175/night

Gap, Pennsylvania

Lancaster / New Holland KOA

Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia / West Chester KOA

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike the White Trail

    Park in the lot off of  St. Clair Bridge Rd to access the trail.  Be aware that some parts of the trail are rocky and/or steep. This trail is dog friendly and is accessible from October through November. 

    3.4 miles 643 ft gain

  • Hike the Susquehanna Ridge Trail at Susquehanna State Park

    What is it with Harford County and its slew of awesome parks? Nestled in the Northeast corner of Maryland, between the Chesapeake Bay and the river it takes its name from, Susquehanna State Park is gorgeous. A couple miles and a world away from I-...

    6 miles

  • Hike to Kilgore Falls

    This 1.2 mile roundtrip hike leads to the second tallest waterfall in the state of Maryland. It is a short hike that's great for families and bringing the dog. In the warmer months, you can swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall. People hav...

    1.2 miles

  • Hike the Jerusalem Village Trail & Jericho Covered Bridge Trail

    Hike in the parking lot off of Jerusalem Road to access the trail (see map below). This trail is dog-friendly and accessible all year. 

    4.3 miles 341 ft gain