Patapsco Valley State Park

Best Photo Session Locations

Being based out of Ellicott City, Patapsco Valley State Park is one of my go-to's for sessions. It's an absolutely huge park that has lots of different settings to suit my clients' unique preferences. I'm gonna take you through my 6 favorite spots at Patapsco to consider as a location for your next photo session!

1. Cascade Falls Trail & Swinging Bridge (Avalon Area)

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The Avalon area of Patapsco has a lot to see- The Cascade waterfalls, a paved, wooded walking trail, and the Swinging Bridge, which overlooks the Patapsco River. It's a stunning area; the only real drawback is that it can be incredibly high traffic- especially on weekends during peak times of year (Fall, Spring, Summer). If this is the spot you choose for your session, I highly recommend booking on a weekday morning when the park opens (9 AM). 

2. Daniels Dam

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Daniels Dam is located in...you guessed it, the Daniels area of Patapsco. I've shot there at all times of year, but I think this location really shines during the summer. Especially for those of you that want to get in the water! Access to this area is completely free, but parking is limited, so it's similarly important here to try to go during lower traffic times- that's not really an issue in the winter, but in the summer it's good to go either at sunrise or sunset. In addition to the river/dam as the backdrop, there's also some lovely wooded walking trails, and even a relatively low-traffic road that can serve as a great spot to get your photos done!

3. Old Main Line Trail

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For those of you open to a slightly lengthier walk (and one where you'll have to cross a stream over some rocks)- this trail might be my favorite option on this list. The entrance to this area is in a residential neighborhood and every time I've been there has been incredibly low traffic. The entire walk is gorgeous, with a mix of greenery, wooded trails, streams and rock formations with small waterfalls, all letting out at a beach area along the Patapsco River. This spot is absolutely a hidden gem! (Bonus: if you book your session here I can show you the spot where I crashed my mountain bike).

4. Ilchester

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The Ilchester Area (specifically called Buzzard Rock Trail, I believe), is a simple area, but has easy access and beautiful views. There's a free parking lot right at the trailhead, and it's a short walk to the river overlook, with some cool open-field views with power lines in the background, if that's your vibe. The pictures above were taken in December and the colors were stunning, so at peak fall foliage it's a knockout.

5. Hollofield

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Hollofield is unique in that it is the area of the park that is rented out for weddings! There is a stone pavilion where receptions are typically set up, and a stone patio that has beautiful views of all the surrounding nature. It's an amazing venue for intimate ceremonies and receptions and the space can easily go elegant or casual depending on your vision. There are wooded trails very close to the ceremony location that are perfect for the wedding party and couple portraits, too!

6. Glen Artney/Orange Grove

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Last, but not least, is Glen Artney/Orange Grove. The entire walk is along a length paved path, but all the spots pictured above are right off the main trail! There are lots of rock formations, pebble beaches along the river, and some really cool tunnels and ruins that are unique to this area. This spot is perfect for if you are down for a long, easy walk, and the views are rad! 

These are my 6 favorite spots at Patapsco, but if you can believe it, there's so much of the park that I left unmentioned- so if you want to explore any of the other areas, I'm your girl! (And if we end up loving a new spot, I'll give you a shoutout when I update this list lol).