Before I start...20 years ago, or so it seems, I heard about a new 'Rails to Trails' bike trail in Anne Arundel County called the B&A. I decided to check it out, so I took my old Montgomery Ward road bike south and found the trailhead. It was a nice trail, though sparsely used, I felt like Speed Racer as I passed every other bike rider on it. Little would I know how things would change.
The Lower Gwynns Falls trail has been open for a few weeks here in Charm City. I chose to ride it today because with gas prices heading northward, and having several activities to do today, I just didn't feel like getting in my car and driving. I decided not to print off a copy of the GWT map and start at the first trailhead at Cherry Hill. The trail consists of a bunch of bike paths and roads that have been in existence, just not officially connected together. My riding outfit today consisted of string bikini top, bandana, bike shorts and kayak portaging shoes, I'm sure I would have made Lance Armstrong proud ;).
The Cherry Hill leg was nice, it hugged the middle branch of the Patapsco River basin. Then the trail went along some deserted industrial roads in Westport, I liked it because it was quiet. Then it took a turn around the Resco incinerator and across a couple of bridges over the Gwynns Falls, which is where the trail meets up with the river. Then it brings you back into the city past Ravens Stadium and then through Pigtown. I bet there is some reall great real estate deals left in Pigtown, I ponder snatching up another house.
I think there is some real signage issues as you cross into Carroll Park, I lost the trail or it lost me. Either way, I saw more of the park than I had originally planned. It was hot and some enterprising kid sold me some cold water at the corner of Monroe and Washington Blvd. The best part of the trail is when you start heading north along the falls at the Carroll Park Golf Course. You get to go over some railroad tracks and falls via bridges that are spectacular.
Once I got to Frederick Road I had to cross the road bridge, but if you look to the north you will see a couple of rows of row homes that are some of my favorite architectually. I then headed into the Gwynns Falls Park, named for the beautiful falls that are there, definitely worth getting off your bike and taking a good look. The city claims that they are going to clean up the sewage issue in the falls in the next few years and have even raised the "fees", otherwise known as taxes, on my water bill to do it. I am hoping the city is successful because that place looked ripe for tubing, or kayaking after a good rain.
Then the trail headed north toward Leakin Park where it becomes a crushed stone surface. I turned around and headed back since I have already biked all over Leakin and I needed to get home. I think I biked about 7 miles each way and I got back in record time because it was pretty much downhill on the return. The GWT is not flat like the North Central and B&A, nor is it a straight line. I welcomed the incline and felt it work my abs, quads, hams and glutes. Another nice thing about this trail is that there is no signage screaming at you to "Always wear a helmet", "Pass on the left" or "15 mph speed limit", I think those directives spoil the ride, I am still waiting for a ranger to give me a ticket for my ardent refusal to wear a head gear of any sort.
The Gwynns Falls Trail is sparsely used right now and I felt like Speed Racer as I passed every other bike rider on it.