The Elkridgean Cyclist Rides North

On riding the rail trail north of Baltimore...

I have so many things I want to write about that I have had a difficult time settling on one and getting started!

First let me say that I rode to the Elkridge Post Office the other day. It was on a Monday, after lunch but before rush hour. It was so unpleasant! I tried to cut through Harwood Park because on Google Maps, it looks like there might be a way, but there is a really ominous "Keep Out" sign where I wanted to go, so I didn't go that way. I had to go out to Route 1. I will never do that again. I'd rather ride to Hanover, though it is much farther. Isn't it a shame that an important community building, which Elkridge fought so long and hard to obtain, does not have a green-means-of-transportation there? Well, there is a bus I guess. Maybe that is considered green. I have avoided that part of Route 1 also because I remember a cyclist was killed there a couple years ago. I did not know the person, but I will forever remember them in my heart.

There was another tragic accident in our area since I last wrote. I'm sure you heard about the hit-and-run on Ridge Road near Furnace Ave in which a cyclist was seriously injured. I have not heard anymore about this sad story. Someone told me there are flowers on the side of the road in the area, which makes me concerned for the worst. It is certainly a scary stretch of road, one that I have rarely ridden.

It would be so easy to hang up my bike because it's too dangerous out there, but I remember my mother telling me that you have to enjoy the things you love. At the time she said this, I was about 8 years old, and I somehow became worried that the house would catch fire. I bagged up my stuffed animals so that I could quickly grab them in the event of emergency. I had 5 brothers and sisters, and many more live pets, but it was the poor helpless stuffed animals that I worried about! When my mother talked to me about not living life with fear, though she was not talking about bike-riding, I know she would say the same thing now. She and Dad took up motorcycle riding late in their 40s, and she often said that she and Dad would die together in a fiery crash, doing what they loved. It didn't turn out that way. Cancer took her at the young age of 68, whereas my Dad is celebrating his 85th birthday today, wondering how much longer he has to wait until he sees her again.

So I continue to ride the roads, at least when it is under 100 degrees out. As always, I enhance my visibility as much as I can, pray a lot, and enjoy my bikes to the fullest.

Now I would like to talk about a couple rides my husband and I have taken recently that do not involve much road-riding at all. We decided to explore the Northern Central Railroad Trail, starting in Hunt Valley. Now called The Torrey C. Brown Trail, it extends 22 miles to the Pennsylvania State Line, and then joins the York County Heritage Trail. On Easter Sunday (after Mass of course), we rode from Ashland, MD, to Whitehall MD, about 11 miles. There is a nice big parking lot near the beginning of the trail, and is very popular, at least on Easter Sunday! This stretch is very flat and shady, and it goes along the Gunpowder Falls Park, with frequent glimpses of the river. It passes through Monkton, which looks very quaint. We turned around at Whitehall, and rode back to our car, enjoying a dinner at Carrabas in Hunt Valley despite our dusty attire! The trail is not paved with asphalt, but is a very smooth crushed stone. There are rather frequent road-crossings, so you have to be careful. There are big "W" signs, leftover from the railroad, which my husband said was to alert the conductor to blow the train whistle. So we knew a crossing was coming up when we saw a W. There are porta-potties stationed along the way, one near Ashland, and one in Whitehall, and probably others.

This summer, we took advantage of a low-humidity day to ride the same trail, this time starting at Parkton Maryland. We followed it north to New Freedom, Pennsylvania, where I strongly recommend that you try Bonkey's Ice Cream. After all, you've earned it, right? We had to go off-trail to get there but there doesn't seem to be much traffic there. New Freedom is a small town but there are a few places to eat. The stretch between Parkton and New Freedom involves a steady uphill grade most of the way. That means that there is a lovely downhill back to Parkton! Because we had not seen the stretch between Whitehall and Parkton, we decided to continue on down to Whitehall, and I'm glad we did, because some of the more stunning scenery is in that section.

If you are looking for a nice family-friendly place to ride, and don't mind about a 30 minute drive, this trail is worth exploring.

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Mary October 18, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Tina - isn't it called the NCCR trail (or something like that) from Parkton to New Freedom? Anyway, I remember renting a bike at the entrance off of Falls Road. It is a great place to bike. AND more fun is to take the ride at NIGHT. They have moonlight bike rides. I like to ride at my own pace, and on a moonlit tour, the other people left me behind both coming and going. I was biking by myself on the trail, wiping away the cobwebs, watching the moon. It was beautiful. Nobody knew I was out there and got back to turn in my bike when most had gone home.


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