The Baltimore Region Super Trail: The Patapsco Connection

In part I, I championed the East Coast Greenway vision for closing the twenty mile gap between Baltimore City’s northbound Jones Falls Trail and The Torrey C. Brown Trail that scenically traverses its way all the way to York, Pa.  Today, I look southward to advocate for a similar opportunity.  The Baltimore & Annapolis Trail intersects the BWI (airport) loop trail about ten miles south of the end point of Baltimore’s Gwynns Falls Trail.  Knitting these collection of trails together would create a ninety mile super trail. Maryland should do it!  Size matters, but more importantly the gaps left include some of Maryland’s most densely populated areas and would provide proximate access to hundreds of thousands of Maryland taxpayers.

By creating this ten mile link between the trails, Anne Arundel Countians could bicycle into downtown Baltimore to eat, attend events, or commute through the beautiful Patapsco Valley. New opportunities to use the Patapsco River for recreation (canoeing, rafting, fishing, swimming) might open up. The Right-of-Way (ROW) looks surprisingly simple. The BWI trail could be extended past the BWI rail station into the Stony Run Valley where it merges into the Deep Run Valley in Elkridge where these tributaries merge into the Patapsco River, which empties into the Middle Branch (and intersects with the Gwynns Falls Trail) Alternatively, the trail could follow parts of the light rail ROW, but this is a less scenic alternative. *After the  core north south trail spine is built, branches such as a connection with the Grist Mill Trail in Howard County/Ellicott City could begin to create a regional network of connected trails.

Proposed “Patapsco River Trail’ connector/See Part I for connection between the Jones Falls Trail and Torrey Brown Trail

Patapsco Valley big with trail

I am not going to dodge costs. Using the Jones Falls Trail construction numbers as a benchmark, the southern “Patapsco” connector would cost $10 million.  The northern (Mt. Washington to Hunt Valley) connector described in part I is about $20 million.  Finishing the whole 90 mile enchilada is $30 million in capital expenses. Let’s just say Joe Flacco could build it with one year of his compensation.


Images of the Patapsco Valley


Administrator and writer for Comeback City

9 Responses to The Baltimore Region Super Trail: The Patapsco Connection

  1. RJ says:

    Would the new “Joe Flacco Pass” be stroller friendly?

    • Yes, the existing parts of the trail are stroller and wheelchair friendly so presumably all connections between trails would be as well. The shared path generally works well for everyone except in the Inner Harbor where strollers, tourists, etc. don’t mix well with bicyclists. Comeback City advocates for a separate cycletrack on Pratt from MLK to President and on to Inner Harbor East in this hyper dense part of the trail network.

  2. Pingback: Connecting Baltimore’s Trails | Comeback City

  3. Jack says:

    The lower Patapsco valley is a densely wooded, but w/o any linear trails through it. A hard surface trail, as proposed, would be a welcome addition and spur use of a chunk of state park land that sees very few visitors. I think the logical connector into the downtown section would be to follow the light rail route from somewhere around Patapsco Ave into downtown.

  4. Jim Rea says:

    Not a criticism of the idea, but the reason that area isn’t developed already is the fact that it is very low-lying and marshy. A trail in the area indicated would require many bridges and probably causeway or boardwalk sections. A route that more closely follows existing roadways might be more practical.

    • Yes, much of the Patapsco Valley is low-lying and marshy. I was speaking with a bike planner last week and he suggested some environmental concerns as well. Google earth images of the valley show a handful of what look like service roads/paths in the valley so I think a big part of the valley could work and where it doesn’t, the trail could divert toward higher/developed ground. Whatever the route, I hope it happens and it is a balance between access to nearby neighborhoods, a useful (somewhat direct) commute route, and comprises some scenic sections. Obviously, the river valley provides the most scenery, maybe the easiest ROW, but has environmental considerations.

    • Reader 328 says:

      The route along the Patapsco River would be ideal. Yes, there will be some bridges over streams and culverts required. The number of bridges can be greatly reduced by locating the bike path on higher ground further away from the river in places where that can be done. An inspired and carefully-chosen route will be enjoyable for hiking, bicycling and bird watching.

  5. Every I drive from Baltimore to DC I think how does the Parkway (295) not have a hiker/biker trail going down some of the rather large sections that are not intersected by overpasses.

  6. marylandattourist says:

    Reblogged this on All things about Maryland and nearby trails. and commented:
    Interesting piece about connecting AA County Trails.

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