Northern Central Railroad Trail

Ashland, Maryland 21065

Northern Central Railroad Trail

Northern Central Railroad Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Wandering through stream-laced woods past farmhouses and fields of corn, this fine rural trail, part of Gunpowder Falls State Park, remembers the past with old railroad crossings and wayside hamlets brimming with stately architecture.

The trail is chilly in winter months, with occasional snow good for cross-country skiing. In summer, the thick canopy shades you from the beating sun, but you will have to share the trail with many other outdoor enthusiasts. The first 10 miles north of Ashland are quite flat, but the section beyond Parkton has a gradual incline. Surface: Crushed stone."

Northern Central Railroad Trail Reviews

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I traveled the entire length of this trail on my bike and my I must say it is a very good trail. If you want to start from the beginning of the trail, I suggest you arrive at the parking lot well before 9 am as it fills quickly since there is only enough parking for about 10 cars. If you dont get there early you can always parking in one of the other parking lots along the trail. The farther north you go the less crowded it will be. Most of the trail is pretty well shaded by trees so it shouldn't be to hot in the summer. The only problem I found with this trail is that people ride their horses on this trail in the northern parts of the trail and leave the horse's droppings behind ON THE TRACK.
Beautiful rail trail, but it can be very crowded. Once we were riding north to the PA state line and hit 500 runners in a marathon. Also the PA state line is not marked so we ended up ridding an extra 4 miles into a little PA town before we realized where we were. Only that town and Monkton are there places to eat. Carry food and drink. Go another 20 miles on a connector trail and you hit York, PA for a total of 80 miles round trip.
Great Trail that is relatively flat and easy to bike/walk. There are few shops and rest rooms about 1/2 way through. There are no trash cans along the trail or at the stop, so be sure to keep your trash with you.
I have cycled the combined North Central Railroad (NCR) Trail and York County Heritage (YCH) Trail many times both in sections and the entire length, up and back. It is a well maintained trail and a fantastic resource for walkers, joggers, cyclist, horseback riders and others. I generally begin my rides at the south terminus (Ashland) and cycle north. The trail is fairly flat until you reach MP15 where the grade increases to the MD-PA border. After crossing the state line, near New Freedom, the grade declines all the way to York, PA. It is not bad but is noticeable. In general, I find the MD NCR, which parallels the Gunpowder Falls River, to be more scenic, shadier and with a quieter surface than the PA YCH which seems to focus more on the historic. The trail can get crowded near the trailheads on weekends and holidays but is for the most part peaceful. There are many places to access the trail and plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat along the way. Recommended.
A very easy ride. We parked at Parkton and rode the trail north all the way to the PA line. It is a very gradual upgrade that you hardly notice. My bike meter said it was 7.2 miles and at our pace it took us 1 hour and 1 minute. On the return trip back south we stopped at one of the picnic tables for lunch and it was so peaceful as we had lunch and listened to the water running in the stream over the rocks. Our return trip took only 35 minutes. Very little bike traffic.
After a long summer of rail trails of questionable quality, this was a top-notch experience. This trail truly demonstrates that the state of Maryland wants to encourage outdoor activity, and is willing to put up the coin to maintain a favorable environment. The trail is composed of white, sandy gravel dust packed quite firmly, so it is as smooth as concrete. Frequent maintenance is evident, not only by the lack of potholes and obstructions but also by the long stretches of obviously new surface. The trail is maintained as part of the Gunpowder Falls State Park. Nice and level, passing lovely scenery and very nicely-maintained homes, horse farms and pasture lands, my only complaint was the crowd. We had to visit 3 parking areas at the extreme southern end of the trail before we found one with a vacant spot, but this is to be expected: it was, after all, the first decent Saturday in 2 months. The trail is wide enough to accommodate the mass of people, and people are generally aware of rights of way and yield rules- thank God the horse riders weren''t out! I''ll definitely be back, because I want to finish the rest of the trail in Maryland and also continue the other 20 miles after it crosses the state line into Pennsylvania.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Trail Type
Open year round
Season & Limits
Gunpowder Falls State Park
Local Contacts

Activity Feed

Jul 2018