Once part of a dam servicing an early 19th century grist mill, the tucked-way falls are a tricky-to-find urban oasis.
Down a short, rough-hewn path from the woods near Druid Hill Park, a sudden expanse of the Jones Falls stream opens up to the 10-foot-tall, semicircle remains of a former grist mill dam. Falling into slow-moving, swirling patterns at the base of the man-made dam, the rushing water at Round Falls ultimately flows into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Even most Baltimoreans don’t know about the oasis in the middle of the city at Round Falls, let alone how to get there. Situated along the 11-mile Jones Falls hiking and biking trail, which stretches from the Inner Harbor to Mount Washington, the falls remain one of gritty Baltimore’s true hidden treasures. The secret to finding it? Along the section of Jones Falls Trail near Druid Hill Park, keep an eye out for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “James W. Rouse Memorial Deck at Round Falls” wooden sign post. Local developers Bill Struever and Ted Rouse (James Rouse’s son) honored the visionary urban planner, who passed away in 1996, by building a stairway to the falls, along with a scenic viewing platform and benches.
The former dam here that serviced Rock Mill was built in the early 1800s. Because of its proximity to the deepwater port at the Inner Harbor, Baltimore had developed into a shipbuilding and international flour milling center by 1810. In 1930, however, the City of Baltimore tore down the old grist mill to help manage floods on the Jones Falls, which are still an issue after heavy rains. At one point, there were as many as 12 grist mills in the area, several of which have now been turned into residential, restaurant, and commercial spaces. The main physical landmark closet to the falls is the overlooking bridge at Wyman Park Drive. Recently, several wooden sculptures have been added in Druid Hill Park near Round Falls. The Jones Falls Trail is also a part of East Coast Greenway.
Know Before You Go
Along the section of Jones Falls Trail near Druid Hill Park, keep an eye out for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “James W. Rouse Memorial Deck at Round Falls” wooden sign post.
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