60 Hikes within 60 Miles Baltimore  by Evan Balkan

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore Guide Book

by Evan Balkan (Menasha Ridge Press)
60 Hikes within 60 Miles Baltimore  by Evan Balkan
Within an hour’s drive of Maryland’s largest city, an abundance of natural and scenic places remains. From hikes within the city, including the new 14-mile Gwynns Falls Trail that runs from the northwest past the Inner Harbor, to the solitude of rural Carroll and northwest Baltimore counties, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore is a guide to great hikes in the area. The author recommends hikes good for children, hikes for viewing wildlife, for bird-watching, for solitude, and more. Some trails are virtually unknown even to avid area outdoor enthusiasts. Whether customers are looking for a day-long trek or an hour-long stroll, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore will help introduce or reacquaint residents and visitors with all the natural wonders that Charm City has to offer.

© 2009 Evan Balkan/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 71.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 71.

The B&A Trail serves as Anne Arundel’s linear island in the most congested part of the county. This park provides a haven for bikers, strollers, and hikers. The B&A Trail, a rails-to-trails park that is part of the East Coast Greenway, follows the old Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad from Glen Burnie in the north (not quite Baltimore) to Annapolis in the south. The 115-acre park runs as a 10-foot-wide paved path that follows a more or less straight line along Ritchie Highway and the more twisty Baltimore- Annapolis Boulevard to MD 50 heading into Annapolis. It’s interesting to note that the boulevard and the highway, built to accommodate the increased automobile traffic, hastened the end of the short line railroad. Nowadays, Baltimore- Annapolis Boulevard has been increasingly displaced by Interstate 97, the Baltimore–Annapolis Expressway, built to connect Maryland’s capital with its largest city. So the railroad corridor, once rendered obsolete, has now become popular again, despite the presence of the boulevard, the highway, and the interstate.
Glen Burnie, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 12.7
Join the throngs strolling around Baltimore’s tourist mecca, but end up where few tourists venture. At the Living Classroom Foundation, you’ll see a sign pointing you to the “pedestrian walkway” (the “Baltimore Waterfront Promenade” sign is 0.1 mile away on Lancaster Street). You’ll see the water right in front of you; head left on the brick walkway toward the Inner Harbor. Initially you’ll see lots of construction to the right, and even though this isn’t always the most pleasant view, it indicates a growing, vibrant city. The small skiffs in the water to the left make a more pleasing backdrop.
Baltimore, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
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Take in historic sites with a big dose of nature. Along the way, enjoy a good meal and shopping in Ellicott City. Benjamin Banneker, the foremost African-American man of science in the early years of the United States, lived his entire life on the land where the museum now sits. Open since 1998, the museum and park continue to grow and develop. Recently the “Molly Bannaky House,” a circa 1850 stone farmhouse, has been fully restored and now houses a library and meeting room. Other structures of interest on the property include an archaeological dig area, a nursery, the Banneker “Ice Pond,” and the Lee Family Farm Ruin. Banneker was born a free black in 1731 and lived until 1806. His life’s accomplishments included constructing a wooden striking clock and a projection of a solar eclipse, helping in the land survey for Washington, D.C., publishing six almanacs, and exchanging correspondence concerning opposition to slavery with Thomas Jefferson. The museum does an excellent job of illuminating the life and contributions of this underappreciated figure in American history, and it is definitely worth a long visit.
Catonsville, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.9
Hiking at an airport? It’s a lot more pleasant than it sounds. Marvel at the woods and wetlands that still coexist with the airport and be awed by jets flying just above your head. One caveat: the BWI Trail is an absolute must for aviation aficionados, but it’s not for those who crave the solitude of a walk in the woods. Even if you count yourself in that latter group, the BWI Trail is worth a go; it’s not hard to find something to like along its well-used route.
Glen Burnie, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.6
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Stroll around man-made Centennial Lake, an oasis in the middle of Columbia, and enjoy the diversity of foliage in Centennial Arboretum. You will pass a volleyball court and playgrounds at 150 feet on the right. A thick stand of trees on the left buffers the trail from MD 108. On the right you’ll see a large patch of wildflowers, a mélange of purple, yellow, and white; a hill rises beyond it. Centennial Lake lies on the other side of the hill.
Columbia, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.3
An opportunity for pleasant hiking within 371- acre Cromwell Valley Park, as well as adding a more strenuous Loch Raven extension. Keep your eyes open for abundant wildlife. Cromwell Valley Park (CVP) has a long history; the area was first settled some 300 years ago. Nowadays, thanks to conservation efforts by the county and state as well as the generosity of families that owned the farms that now make up CVP, it exists mostly as an educational park, focusing primarily on farming, history, and nature. Programs demonstrating animal husbandry and organic farming provide educational opportunities year-round. This means that the park is often busy, but the trails remain largely uncrowded.
Parkville, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.8
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Take in a stunning array of flowers and trees on the grounds of a beautiful 19th-century mansion. Construction on the Italianate Cylburn Mansion began in 1863, but it wasn’t completed until 1888, when Jesse Tyson, a wealthy Baltimore businessman, moved in with his much younger bride, Edyth Johns. After Jesse died in 1906, Edyth remarried, and she and her husband lived in Cylburn until 1942, when the house became property of the Baltimore City Department of Public Welfare. By 1954, the Board of Parks and Recreation created the Cylburn Wildflower Preserve and Garden, which was later renamed Cylburn Arboretum. A circular driveway ringed by marigolds and black-eyed Susans, with a centuries-old black walnut tree in the middle, fronts the mansion.
Baltimore, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Enjoy a remarkably isolated spot where Stemmers Run meanders over a slew of rocks in the heart of heavily populated Parkville-Overlea. The Parkville Recreation Council manages the Double Rock recreational area, which nestles into the urban sprawl of the surrounding neighborhoods and nearby Beltway. You can easily miss it—and you’ll just as easily be wowed by the very wild feel of its trails.
Parkville, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.25
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Enjoy a heady combination of mature forest, boggy marshland, self-guided nature trails, golden sand beach, and stunning water views. This land, now owned by the Anne Arundel County Department of Parks and Recreation, comes well stocked not only in natural beauty but also in human history. Downs Memorial stands on Bodkin Neck, a peninsula at the confluence of the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay. Deeds to its earliest settlement date back to 1670 and include Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, among its initial landowners.
Gibson Island, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
With plenty of opportunity to relax, enjoy a loop around Druid Lake and everything else that historic Druid Hill Park has to offer. Most traffic will be folks trying to get into (or stay in) shape. If you had to dream up the perfect “urban hike,” Druid Hill Park Lake Loop might very well be it. It’s long enough and configured in such a way to give people a serious workout if they choose to circle several times, but easy enough for those who just want a leisurely stroll. Along the way, your choice of views includes the busy downtown, serene woodlands, and the mix-and-match character of north Baltimore.
Baltimore, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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Spot a great blue heron wading in Saltpeter Creek among the rushes and cattails. Head left on the trail at the wooden fences where tall cattails sway in the breeze. This network of paved paths runs between the park’s ball diamonds and athletic fields, and is full of walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, and bicyclists. Note that the mileage markers on the asphalt won’t correspond in distance to the hike described here; the markers indicate distances on a 1-mile circuit through the ball fields.
Chase, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
Hike through diverse wooded flatland, rolling hills, and marshlands in Elk Neck State Park’s lesser-known cousin. Identified on maps as Trails 1, 2, and 3, the “trails” are actually wide forest roads, flanked by thick woods (mixed deciduous trees and evergreens) and allowing only limited vehicle access. You might feel a bit unnerved at the beginning of the hike—in addition to having occasional cars pass you, you’ll hear gunshots from the handgun and rifle shooting range you’ll pass at 0.6 miles. Once you pass the shooting range, the trail becomes more pleasant and isolated. Vehicles are prohibited from going farther than this point, and the landfill (out of sight of the trail) beyond the shooting range offers good habitat for whippoorwills and a variety of owls.
North East, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.9
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Do it all at Elk Neck State Park in one long day of hiking and biking. If it’s summer, leave time for swimming as well. Head straight away from the parking area on the wide, packed-dirt Blue Trail. You will have great views of Chesapeake Bay on the right on this section of the trail; eventually thick woods will block out distant views. The trail splits at 0.6 miles; go left and you will see a raptor viewing area. Depending on the season, you’ll see vultures, eagles, ospreys, buteos, hawks, harriers, kites, kestrels, merlins, and falcons.
North East, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.5
Almost endless opportunities in this bucolic corner of extreme northeastern Maryland. With more than 5,600 acres and 75 miles of multiuse trails, Fair Hill has something for everyone. This hike takes in the highlights of the three largest trails—Orange, Green, and Blue—all sitting north of Fair Hill’s dividing line, MD 273. As you travel through the diverse landscape, keep an eye out for beavers, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and white-tailed deer.
Benson, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 18
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Meander along the well-fortified confluence of the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay. Fort Howard traces its beginnings to 1896, when the U.S. government began purchasing land on North Point in preparation of fortifying the area essential to repelling naval attacks on the City of Baltimore. Originally called North Point Military Reservation and renamed Fort Howard, for Colonel John Eager Howard, in 1904, it served as the headquarters of Baltimore’s coastal defenses from the time the first troops arrived on June 27, 1899, until the last troops left in August 1940. The Veterans Administration (VA) acquired the property, and now a chain-link fence separates the grounds of the VA Hospital from the park.
Fort Howard, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Feel the stirrings of patriotism as you circle the most prominent symbol of the indomitable will of the fledgling United States. Walk along the seawall of the harbor where Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem. From where you can see the water taxi stand, about 150 feet to the left, head right until you reach the seawall, and then keep it on your left. You’ll see many signs telling you not to walk on the seawall itself; people have fallen in here, and as you’ll notice, getting back out of the water is no easy task. The water is pretty choppy and slams against the big rocks several feet below the wall.
Baltimore, MD - Hiking,Road Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 1
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Take a short but secluded walk through a varied landscape—river valley, rolling fields, and piedmont forest. Follow the sign to Gillis Falls Trailhead and go left from the parking area; you’ll see a little path to the right heading toward Grimville Road, but stay on the path on the edge of the more pleasant wooded area for a little while longer (you’ll come out to the same place either way). You will come to the big open field of the equestrian center on your right before you will enter the woods on a path at 0.3 miles. The nice wide dirt trail heads downhill; at 0.5 miles, at the bottom of the hill, you’ll come to a wide fire road. Go right (this is where you would have wound up if you had taken the path to Grimville Road that you passed at the top of the trail). Gillis Falls is on your left; don’t expect a waterfall—it’s a stream, generally 10 to 20 feet across and a few feet deep at best.
Woodbine, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
Circle Gunpowder Falls at arguably its prettiest and most scenic section. The wrought iron Masemore Road Bridge was built in 1898. A wooden pole sits just to the left of the bridge, pointing out the white-blazed Gunpowder South Trail. Follow the trail upstream over mossy rocks and fallen tree trunks for 500 feet to the blue-blazed Highland Trail to the left. Head uphill through mountain laurel and along a ridged groove; you’ll see a valley dropping off to the right and Bush Cabin Run heading into Gunpowder Falls. Although mountain laurel is by far the dominant flora along this hike, if you complete the entire circuit, you’ll also pass by river birch, cherry, oak, hemlock, dogwood, and witch hazel.
Parkton, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.2
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Leave from historic Jerusalem Village and follow the floodplain of Little Gunpowder Falls before returning for a trip to the Jericho Covered Bridge. You can spend hours in historic Jerusalem Village alone, and the fact that some fantastic hiking opportunities lie all around offers a wonderful bonus. The grist mill, now Gunpowder Falls State Park headquarters, was built in 1772 and continued operations until the last miller died in 1961. Employees of the Gun/Cooper Shop, behind the mill, produced walnut gunstocks for the Maryland militia during the Revolutionary War. Spread out from the mill, all within easy walking distance, stand the Tenant House, Lee Mansion, McCourtney’s Store, Spring House, “Dwelling,” and, of course, the Blacksmith Shop, also built in 1772, where the hike begins. Each historic building tells a fascinating story.
Kingsville, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
Stroll through the floodplain along Gunpowder River and then traverse upland forest to the sight of an abandoned millpond, now lost to the forest floor. You’ll see many people with fishing poles heading away from the bulletin board and going under the bridge on the right. You can head left here and follow the trail along the water’s edge, or you can take official Lost Pond trailhead, which has blue blazes, that begins at the edge of the woods near the other parking lot. The two trails closely parallel each other and eventually connect. I took the water’sedge trail, but during heavy rains, mud and maybe even a few inches of water may cover it.
Perry Hall, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.3
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