Oregon Ridge Park has always been a very popular destination for hikers in the region because of its serenity, its size, its beauty, and the many habitats. Though hiking is one of the top uses of the park, most of the trails are showing their age from overuse.

Many of today’s existing trails are old logging roads dating back to the early 20th century that were here when the park was purchased in 1969. Some of the other auxiliary trails were also here when the park was purchased and were never designed to be safe or sustainable.

A trail assessment performed by the Trails Conservancy Inc. in 2018 recommended that more than 80% of our trails be repaired or closed. Logging roads are much like U.S. interstates: they’re the fastest way to see nothing. Our park has much to offer, and our hope is to make it easier and safer for visitors, young and old, to enjoy these many features.

While we’re certain that these issues will be addressed in the Master Plan process, the Nature Council has taken steps to begin correcting some of these problems. Last fall we created a demonstration trail (now the new section of the Green Trail) to show the positive features of a ‘sustainable trail’. Using the principles of the Forest Service’s Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, a sustainable trail when designed properly, requires little to no maintenance. This trail became one of the most popular in the park within days of opening and it prompted us to continue our efforts.

The eastern side of the Yellow Trail (S. James Campbell Trail), extending from the top of the ski slope down to Ivy Hill Road, was one of these old logging roads and has suffered for decades from runaway erosion. This kind of trail failure is typical of these extraction roads as they are designed to remove lumber as fast as possible, with no intention of making them sustainable, safe, or scenic. To address this public safety and environmental issue, we created a reroute using these same sustainable trail principles. This trail quickly became the preferred route for most hikers. Historically rerouting and closing trails has been very common due to trail failure. While hiking at Oregon Ridge we often see trails and roads throughout the park that were abandoned long ago.

The Nature Council, through the Master Plan process, is advocating for the improvements in our trail system that hikers have been requesting for many years. These include expanding the trail system, rerouting or repairing badly eroded, unsafe trails, building bridges over the four stream crossings along the Baisman Run, adding new and improved signage and trailheads, and keeping our trails for hikers only.

If you walk at Oregon Ridge and have opinions about our trails, please let the Master Plan architects and the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks know. Do you want safer, sustainable trails? Do you want bridges over stream crossings? Or, do you want bikes and/or horses on our trails? This is your park so let the decision makers know your thoughts.

Elisabeth Lardner email – elardner@lardnerklein.com (Master Plan architect)
Baltimore County Master Plan email – oregonridgemasterplan@baltimorecountymd.gov
Oregon Ridge Nature Center Council email – ornc.board@gmail.com

Oregon Ridge Nature Center hosts many hiking and nature programs year-round. For more information…