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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Biking the NCR Trail in Baltimore County

  Most of us still call this trail the North Central Rail Trail even though it has been renamed the Torrey C. Brown Trail.  This hard dirt and gravel trail follows the old North Central Rail Line that once went from Baltimore to Harrisburg, Pa.  The description of the trail comes from Trail Link:

    " The history of the rail-trail dates back to 1832, when the Northern Central Railroad carried passengers—people vacationing at Bentley Springs—and freight between Baltimore and York or Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The railroad ran for about 140 years, and you can still see part of the old bed, which was converted to a rail-tail in the early 1980s. Today, the Northern Central Railroad Trail is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as part of the Gunpowder Falls State Park.
      Amenities along the route include picnic and park benches, drinking fountains for hikers and bikers—dogs too—and portable restrooms. Just off the trail you can enjoy a small art gallery, an antique shop and several places to buy food and drinks. Hotels and motels can be found within a mile of the trail, and there is easy access to a bike shop that rents and repairs bikes. The trail cuts through several charming Maryland towns: Monkton (a major stop for hikers and bikers), Parkton, Falls Overlook and Bentley Springs. At the MD–PA border near New Freedom, PA, the trail continues as the Heritage Rail Trail County Park."

   The trail through Baltimore County follows the Gunpowder River and crosses the river at a number of points.

 The best feature of this trail is that it is mostly shaded so it is a great ride as the summer heats up.

  Another nice feature of the trail are the water fountains and porta johns and restrooms along the way.

There is even a sandwich and smoothie shop right next to the trail in Monkton.

   The trail has many interesting natural features like this rock wall along the trail.

   The road surface is hard enough to ride with a road bike but a hybrid or off road bike is better.

   The road bikes I saw on the trail didn't seem to have the really skinny tires.  There were a few muddy areas that road bikes would have to deal with.
    The fact that this trail is only about a 35-40 minute drive from Columbia and it is shaded I am sure I will be back soon this summer to do the next section of this trail.


   This year I bought a road bike from a friend so that I could put some different tires on my old road bike to be able to do some of the dirt rail trails that we have in our area. Pictured above are the tires that fit my road bike and use the same tubes as my road tire.  They are a little wider and have tread that works well on the hard dirt trails.  I learned the hard way by blowing out 2 tubes that you only pump these tires up to 65-70 psi instead of 110 psi of my road tires.  Maybe I should read the recommendations on the sides of the tires first!

P.S. 2
 As a cyclist I always appreciate the signs along our roads reminding car drivers to share the road with bikers.  Being defenseless against larger cars along our roads is something of which I always have to be aware.  Recently I saw a situation on one of our paths that concerned me that cyclists need to reciprocate and share our paths with walkers and runners.  I was close behind a woman pushing her young child in a stroller when a cyclist came around a blind corner and almost collided with the stroller.  The cyclist was going too fast to be going around a blind corner and was even taking the inside left track of the path.  Only the quick action of the mother prevented the collision.
     I have seen similar scenarios before on our paths.  Our paths are not off road bike tracks but multi-use paths that need to be ridden with caution and courtesy.  There is no reason not to let walkers and runners know that you will be passing them on their left.  To pass them with no warning puts them and you in danger of colliding. Bells on bikes are better than nothing but not as good a verbal warning of your passing.  The verbal warning should also be given far enough back to the walkers or runners that you don't startle them.
     If we bikers want drivers of cars to share the roads with us then we need to return the favor on our paths.

P.S. 3
  To see my other blogs on biking trails go to the right on the blog page where the search button is, delete the word "search" and type in "trail."


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