Barrans – Baldwin Trail via Willow Grove Trail

Sylvie’s Review: 4.5/5 paws!

The park in general deserves more than 5 paws, it is our favorite park we have found in Maryland! This hike however gets 4.5 for being really steep in places, some parts of the trail getting confusing and of course the random off leash dogs once you get this far back in the woods but the beautiful nature keeps it above 4 paws!

Here are some of the dog-friendly amenities:

Visit Comwell Valley Park’s website:

Helpful park information:

Watch Sylvie exploring Towson Run on our hike:

I always park at the Willow Grove Nature Center. There is generally lots of parking, however, be mindful of summer camps which can make the area busy and also there are often a lot of groups that gather for hiking and birding. The trail we hiked starts at this nature center and then goes on the red trail (Willow Grove Trail). I then walked on the Barrans-Baldwin trail (light green) up until the dark line that cuts the trail into 2 sections. I walked east on this little cut through trail and then back to the red trail to make a loop.

I have outlined my loop in purple.

The trail starts just behind the nature center and past a barn on the right. You walk up a service road for service vehicles. Before I say more, this trail is a lot of up and down hill and some of it is very steep with no switchbacks, just a direct climb straight up. I have Ankylosing Spondilitis (an autoimmune disease that causes severe hip and back pain) so I decided to not do the entire Barrans-Baldwin loop (light green trail).

On our way to where the red trail splits off there are a few small meadow patches in the shade with some beautiful flowers. This part of the trail wasn’t bad but there is a very steep section of the red trail before you get to the light green trail.

I really like how well the trails are marked. They have a few signs throughout the trails showing you where you are (I also had the map on my phone) and full phone service in this area by the way (for T mobile). The trails are marked with blazes but be warned, there are some side trails, especially ones that lead beyond the park boundary (outside the greened in area on the map) so it can get a bit confusing once you get onto the Barrans-Baldwin trail.

After going up a very steep hill and down an equally steep hill I could hear the stream, Towson Run, in the distance. There were a few very large trees that had fallen and obstructed the path and it was a bit muddy. There are a few spots to access the stream here. This is also where you will turn right and go onto the trail that cuts the light green trail in half. Just keep an eye out for the light green trail blazes on the trees and you’ll be fine here. But as you can see, Sylvie loved the water and it’s beautiful!


Ok here is where I had to check the trail a few times until I came to this sign. This sign is right after the cut through and this part of the trail walks directly next to the stream. The stream is lined with ferns and the bird sounds are incredible. I even heard my first ever yellow-billed cuckoo! There was also a hermit thrush lighting up the forest with its fluty song.

There are a few more places you can access the stream along this part of the trail and Sylvie jumped right in!


You must cross the water here! I almost got lost a few times with a few extra trails but this is where you cross the water. If you look across the stream you’ll see the light green blaze and the cut trees where the path is. The water is shallow with tons of rocks so it’s easy to cross but if you don’t cross you either go north and continue the trail up north or go onto trails that aren’t part of the park.


Now it’s time to go back uphill. Along this section of the trail, continue to follow the light green blazes and look for the logs that have been cut, that’s a great indication of the trail maintained by the park. Another bonus is this trail has a huge population of mountain laurels which are in bloom in spring. Sylvie and I took a rest at this awesome stump seat and then continued on the trail, eventually finding the red blaze and turning left and easily following the red trail back to the nature center.

This is a beautiful trail that is well maintained (minus the monstrous trees blocking the area where the cut through is). There is even a dog poop station (no bags) on the red trail before it splits. My only con is that people seem to think that once they get this far back into the woods they can let their dogs run off leash. Please be kind and keep your dog on some sort of lead. I use a very large extendable leash and Sylvie is never off the leash. Having dogs running off leash is a safety hazard not only for your dog but please consider how other people and their own dogs feel having a dog run up to them off a leash. Dogs also damage natural resources, like sensitive native plants. Not to mention this trail had a lot of older people walking it with walking sticks (which was awesome to see). Stay strong and corgi on!