At a Glance
Hours: Sunrise to sunset.
Tips: The hawk watch can be accessed from the park’s Willow Grove Parking Lot by walking 0.2 mile uphill (west) on the paved Emergency Access Road (see Trail Map at link below; the hawk watch site is marked with a blue star on the map).
Best Seasons: Year-round; fall for Hawk Watch.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Towson CE
Local MOS Chapter: Baltimore Bird Club
Cromwell Valley Park
2002 Cromwell Bridge Road, Parkville, MD 21234
Located north of the City of Baltimore, Cromwell Valley Park is a stream valley park comprised of 460 acres of pasture, cultivated gardens, open fields, woods, hedgerows, orchards, and wooded Piedmont hills. The park, which was formed through the purchase of four separate farms, is owned by Baltimore County but is co-managed with the non-profit Cromwell Valley Park Council. Situated in an area once known as “Lime Kiln Bottom,” the park was acquired by the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks starting in 1993.
The diversity of the park’s habitats makes it an excellent area for wildlife. Habitats include both upland and bottomland deciduous forests, conifers, shrubby fields, hedgerows, and wooded stream valleys.
The park has over five miles of marked trails which take visitors through the varied habitats and past historic structures, including lime kilns, a log cabin,and cemeteries of enslaved people. A native plant garden, live animal exhibits,and honey bee hives are the focal points for a variety of programs related to conservation, native plants, gardening, wildlife, pollinators, butterflies, and birds. The Willow Grove Nature Education Center, a remodeled historic farm house, is the centerpiece of the park.
The Baltimore Bird Club hosts frequent bird walks at Cromwell Valley; these are free and open to the public.
To date, over 205 bird species have been reported on eBird from Cromwell Valley Park. With Loch Raven Reservoir to the north and east and Gunpowder Falls State Park to the east, water-related species, such as Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, and various gulls and terns, often make an appearance. Swallows are common in the warm months. Songbirds include both orioles, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Bunting, and Eastern Bluebird, as well as flycatchers, vireos and warblers.
Cromwell Valley Park is situated on a fall raptor migration route and its hillside provides a ringside seat for this event. The hawk watch in the park has tallied 15 raptor species, including American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Red-tailed, Red-Shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks, and Bald and Golden Eagles.
Ample parking available.
The park features a Children’s Garden, a Nature Discovery Zone, and an outdoor classroom. The park’s Nature Education Center offers programs for children, adults, and families. ◾ The park holds organized bird walks several times each season, on Saturdays and Sundays. The park also sponsors an almost daily hawk watch during fall migration. See the calendar of events at https://cromwellvalleypark.org/event_calendar/. ◾ The park also houses a certified organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program operated by Talmar Gardens and Horticultural Therapy Center. It serves as a demonstration of sustainable farm practices and provides wholesome local organic produce and eggs. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Baltimore Bird Club. The Baltimore Bird Club is the founding chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and remains an important hub of birding activity in the state. The club offers monthly meetings with informative presentations and a full schedule of field trips and bird walks, all free and open to the public. The holds weekly bird walks at Cromwell Valley Park on Tuesday mornings during fall migration; see calendar at https://baltimorebirdclub.org/schedule.html. ◾
From the Baltimore Beltway/I-695, take Exit 29A for Cromwell Bridge Road north. Turn left at the first light onto northbound Cromwell Bridge Road, then go about 1 mile. (Be aware of the speed camera by the school.) Drive past the 1st entrance to the Sherwood area of the park, on the left. In another 1/2 mile, at the 2nd entrance, turn left onto the park entry road at 2175 Cromwell Bridge Road. The sign there says “Cromwell Valley Park, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks, Willow Grove Farm.” Follow the road across the bridge and park in the gravel parking lot on left. Be careful, as the entry road is one lane. If someone is driving out, you will have to wait at the top.
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous FarmyardGarden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseSuburban Neighborhood Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsHay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainRivers & Streams
Features:BeginnersFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHawk WatchHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:County ParksMAEOE Green CenterNature Centers