Rocks State Park
3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville, MD 21084
Rocks State Park is located in the Deer Creek watershed near Pylesville in Harford County. It is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The park consists of four non-contiguous areas totaling 1,060 acres. The main area, 855 acres in size, consists primarily of dense forest characteristic of the Piedmont. Its most notable feature is a 190-foot rock outcrop, known as the King and Queen Seat, which overlooks Deer Creek to the east. In fact, the park was created to protect this spectacular natural resource. A visit to Rocks State Park presents the opportunity for a quiet ramble through the forested slopes.
The Falling Branch area of Rocks State Park is located about five miles north of the main park on a separate 67-acre parcel of land. It is home to the 17-foot high Kilgore Falls, which is Maryland’s second highest vertical drop waterfall.
Just southwest of the Falling Branch area is the Cameron Hunting Area of Rocks State Park, a 77-acre forested tract along Falling Branch which is a tributary of Deer Creek. The Cameron area has a small parking area on the north side of Falling Branch Road, with a short foot-trail heading north. There are no marked trails here, and the area is seldom birded.
The Hidden Valley tract of Rocks State Park is located five miles northwest of the main part of Rocks State Park at the intersection of Madonna, Telegraph, and Carea Roads. This undeveloped area offers a beautiful hiking trail and fishing spot along Deer Creek. Parking is available for 8 to 10 cars. Parking along roadways is not permitted. There are no picnic tables, grills or restroom facilities.
The main part of the park has over 3.5 miles of trails that connect various points of interest and three picnic areas. Most trails are steep and rocky, so plan ahead and wear appropriate footwear. Parking is only permitted in parking lots and authorized pull-offs.
The King and Queen Seat provides an excellent vantage point for hawk watching. The face of the outcrop is popular with skilled rock climbers, but is considered too difficult for novices. The King and Queen Seat can be reached from the Rock Ridge Picnic Area, the park’s main office via the White Trail, or from the Rapids parking area on MD Route 24 (see Directions below) via the Purple Trail. See trail map at link at left.
Rocks State Park features three developed picnic areas in the main tract: Hills Grove, Wilson’s and Rock Ridge. These areas include tables, grills, restroom facilities, and playground equipment. The Hills Grove and Wilson’s Areas are wheelchair accessible. Pets on a leash are permitted in any of the picnic areas, as in the rest of the park. There is also a children’s nature exploration area featuring miniature rock-climbing opportunities.
Fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and wading are all available in Deer Creek, but the Deer Creek Rapids should only be attempted by expert paddlers.
The park offers interpretive programs throughout the summer, and upon request (pending staff availability). Interpretive activities include nature and history hikes, talks, crafts and demonstrations for children, adults and school groups. Fees may apply. For the current schedule, check http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Documents/Events_Rocks.pdf
Over 125 species of birds have been reported on eBird at Rocks State Park. There are five eBird hotspots covering the park:
Rocks State Park is generally under-birded and additional visits and eBird reports would give a fuller picture of the bird life. In general, the birds at Rocks State Park are the normal inhabitants of the wooded stream valleys in the Piedmont. Year-round residents include Black and Turkey Vultures; Red-tailed Hawks; Mourning Dove; Belted Kingfisher; Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Northern Flicker; Blue Jay; American Crow; Carolina Chickadee; Tufted Titmouse; White-breasted Nuthatch; Carolina Wren; Eastern Bluebird; American Robin; and Northern Cardinal.
Notable birds in the warm months include Osprey; Chimney Swift; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; House Wren; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Wood Thrush; Gray Catbird; Brown Thrasher; Cedar Waxwing; Scarlet Tanager; Indigo Bunting; Blue Grosbeak; Baltimore Oriole; and a variety of flycatchers, vireos, swallows, and breeding warblers such as Ovenbird and Common Yellowthroat. Chipping and Song Sparrows are present from April through October.
Wintering species include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; both kinglets; White-throated Sparrow; and Dark-eyed Junco. Birds commonly found in migration include a variety of vireos, thrushes, and warblers. Try hawk (or nighthawk) watching in early fall from King and Queen Seat.
Free parking in multiple locations; parking is only permitted in parking lots and authorized pull-offs; see trail maps at link at left for locations. No parking on road shoulders.
The King and Queen Seat overlook provides a spectacular view and is the iconic feature of the park. ◾ The Falling Branch/Kilgore Falls area became part of the park after being purchased by the Harford Land Trust. ◾ Rocks State Park offers interpretive programs in the summer. ◾ There is a children’s nature exploration area in the Rock Ridge Picnic Area, featuring miniature rock-climbing opportunities for children. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Harford Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
To each the main section of the park from I-95 north of Baltimore: Take Exit 74 for MD Route 24 north. Route 24 is initially called the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway; then becomes Rock Spring Road and then Rocks Road. Continue north on Route 24 through Bel Air, Rock Spring, and Forest Hill. The main tract of the park is located approximately 5 miles north of Forest Hill. From Route 24, turn left (west) onto Rocks Chrome Road. Rocks State Park Office and main parking area is located on the right in just 0.2 miles at 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road.
To reach the three picnic areas (Wilson’s, Hill’s Grove, and Rock Ridge, all accessed from St. Clair Bridge Road): From the intersection of MD Route 24 and Rocks Chrome Road, go north on MD Route 24 for 0.6 miles and then turn left to go west on St. Claire Bridge Road.
- Wilson’s Picnic Area will be in the right at 3805 St. Claire Bridge Road in 0.1 miles.
- Rock Ridge Picnic Area will be on the left at 3900 St. Claire Bridge Road in 0.8 miles.
- Hill’s Grove Picnic Area will be on the right at 4001 St. Claire Bridge Road in 1 miles.
To reach the Rapids Parking Lot for the Purple Trail to the King and Queen Seat: From the intersection of MD Route 24 and Rocks Chrome Road, go north on MD Route 24 for 0.35 miles and then turn left into the parking area at 3634 Rocks Road/MD Route 24.
To reach the Falling Branch area and Kilgore Falls: From the intersection of MD Route 24 and Rocks Chrome Road, go north on MD Route 24 for 4.3 miles and then turn left (west) onto St. Mary’s Road. Follow St. Mary’s Road for 0.5 miles, then turn right to go west on Falling Branch Road. The parking lot for Falling Branch will be on your right (north side of the road) in o.2 miles. The street address is 1026 Falling Branch Road, Pylesville, MD 21332.
To reach the Cameron Hunting Area: Follow directions above to Falling Branch. From the Falling Branch parking lot, proceed west on Falling Branch Road for another 0.85 miles. The Cameron Hunting Area parking lot will be on your right (north side of the road).GPS coordinates: 39.684818, -76.436481.
To reach the Hidden Valley Area: From the intersection of MD Route 24 and Rocks Chrome Road, go north on MD Route 24 for 4.8 miles and then turn left (west) onto MD Route 136/Harkins Road. Follow Route 136 for 2.7 miles to Telegraph Road; then turn left to go southwest on Telegraph Road. Follow Telegraph Road for 1.9 miles to the intersection with Carea Rd. and Madonna Road. Bear right onto Carea Road and the parking lot for the Hidden Valley Area will be on the left in a couple hundred feet. The street address is 4710 Carea Road, White Hall, MD 21161.
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