The trail surface is generally excellent and you can count on it to be clear of major obstacles, even though it is heavily used by mountain bikers. This makes for a perfect afternoon hike, with enough short, steep hills to bring your heart rate up.
On the characteristically hot-humid days of the Chesapeake Bay area, take a refreshing dip in the toothache-cold water of the Little Gunpowder. A nice, deep swimming hole is located just downstream of Bottom Road.
Multiple little creek crossings can mean soggy feet if weather has been wet. You often see many mountain bikers, please be respectful of other trail users.
Parking for this loop is on the west side of Bottom Road. The loop as described starts at the intersection with Laural Brook Road.
Begin by heading north on Railway Trail
(blazed yellow); the trail leaves Bottom Road and ascends briefly to the rail bed, now pleasantly overgrown. For just over a mile, the trail stays on the rail bed, sometimes surrounded by steep cuts in the hillside, and sometimes with sweeping vistas of the Little Gunpowder Falls Creek bed.
At 1.1 miles, the trail drops steeply down into the creek bed from the railway, and meanders along with the creek for awhile, crossing several small tributaries along the way. At about 1.9 miles, take a right to head north on Deadfall Forest
trail; the trail will diverge from the creek to make a few meandering ascents before reaching Pleasantville Road.
Head south on the road, cross on the metal bridge (beware narrow shoulder) and turn downstream on the Little Gunpowder Trail (Pleasantville Rd to Bottom Rd)
(white blazes). Dip down to cross a rivulet and ascend steeply to regain a railroad grade.
The trip back downstream is a great mix of flat singletrack on old rail bed, punctuated by short climbs in and out of the creek bed. Small rivulet crossings are abound, as well as spectacular views of the boulder strewn and crystal clear Little Gunpowder Falls Creek. You'll pass many intersections along this trail; just stay on the main drag.
The trail will terminate high on the hillside as it re-joins Bottom Road. Head down Bottom Road and back to the steel bridge, cross it and head north on the road back to the parking.
This drainage feels shockingly wild, given its proximity to Baltimore. Maples, Tulip Poplar
, and Sycamore guard the banks of the Little Gunpowder, making for a consistently dense, verdantly shaded canopy in the summer. You are likely to see the usual eastern fauna (chipmunks, squirrel, white-tail).
At times, you may also see beaver and even bald eagle along the Little Gunpowder's banks. The Little Gunpowder is also an excellent trout stream, although the waters upstream of the described loop are considered a better fishery.