A former ore pit quarry, now covered by vegetation.
Oregon Ridge Park is a 1,043-acre park in Cockeysville, Maryland. The park features walking and hiking trails, nature center, picnic and recreation areas.
The Loggers Trail is a 2-mile loop trail around the park that takes you past some of the It’s an easy hike, although not flat, the elevation gain is gradual. You end up walking past some pleasant overlooks, a stream and two lakes. Recommend either printing out the map photo with this post, or going into the Nature Center and purchasing the map for 50 cents.
From the Nature Center, take the bridge over the ore pit to the red blazed trail. We turned right, following the red blazes to the Forest of Hope.
The Forest of Hope showcases the other side of addiction: recovery. About 50 trees were painted with a bright latex paint, designed by recovering addicts and their loved ones.
Although I found it neat — and it’s definitely fun to see the different designs — the art installation was controversial as it was approved by the county but not by the advising body for Oregon Ridge Park itself.
From the Forest of Hope, you descend a bit to a valley and meet a stream burbling along. We went hiking in mid-March, and enjoyed seeing the first signs of spring with greenery sprouting in the stream.
We swiftly climbed to the top of the hill, where there’s a bit of a view. From there the trail took us along the pipeline clearing, but it soon brought us back into wooded area, where both the yellow trail and the grey trail intersect. The trail continues through the woods, seeming to follow an old road (either that, or the erosion on the trail has been horrific).
Another gradual climb brings you to a left turn in the trail toward an overlook and a well-positioned bench to enjoy the view over Hunt Valley. From there, it turns leftish again, descending the side of the hill, where it again emerges into the pipeline clearing. This is where we felt the trail was not particularly well marked. Once out of the trees, we couldn’t see any red blazes or trail markers.
Up until then, we hadn’t depended on the map, but we finally capitulated and got it out. The map seemed to indicate a right turn and then cross the clearing, but it was easy to miss the post with the trail marker, and we ended up floundering around a bit looking for the trail.
We realized the trail continued between the two lakes and luckily, I’d noticed one of the lakes through the trees, so we were finally able to find the trail, which descended sharply down to the lake, and then just as quickly back up a bit to the playground area and the second lake, finally spitting us out by the parking lot where we’d left our vehicle.
This lovely bench was a fun surprise along the trail.
The history of Oregon Ridge Park is interesting. Iron ore and marble stone were discovered in the area in the 1830s. The following decade, Oregon Ridge became the site of a successful iron ore and marble mining operation.
To process the iron ore efficiently and profitably, local entrepreneurs constructed an iron smelting furnace along what today is called Oregon Branch Stream. Extracted marble stone was used on site in the iron smelting process and to supply high quality building material for the construction of many private and institutional structures in Maryland and adjacent states.
To support the mining and iron smelting activities, an industrial village housing 250 people developed just to the north of the present location of Oregon Ridge Nature Center. Irish immigrants and formerly enslaved individuals comprised the labor force that lived and worked in the town. Several of the original town buildings remain visible in the landscape today.
“It’s all downhill from here, Mom!”
Getting there: 13401 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030
Hours: Sunrise to sunset, but the Nature Center is open Tuesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.