When Maebh is looking for an easy outing, you can sometimes find her and Moose on the NCR Trail. Maebh is part Newfoundland and the Newfoundland is a water rescue dog. Maebh is not so much into the water rescue thing but she does like to give encouragement to the people she sees in the water. She particularly like to bark, “Hey, have fun but stay safe,” to the water tubers on the upper end of the Gunpowder River along the NCR trail.
What is the NCR Trail?
The NCR trail, also known as the North Central Railroad trail but officially designated as the Torrey C. Brown Trail, is a 19.4-mile former rail bed that runs from Hunt Valley, MD up to the Maryland/Pennsylvania line. The trail is a great place to hike in Baltimore. It is also extensively used by bikers, runners, walkers, and horse riders and gets pretty darn crowded on summer weekends. The further North you go, the less crowded. If you want the trail more or less to yourself, park above Monkton Station (see below). In the winter when there is snow on the ground, you may find a mushing dog team or two. You may also find Maebh and her moose on the NCR trail cheering them on.
The trail has a very slight uphill grade heading North so if you really want to feel like a champ at the end of your workout, start out heading towards Pennsylvania. You will not really notice the uphill but that downhill on the way back will make you feel like you could walk/run/bike forever.
Place to Park
There are eight parking areas along the NCR trail. At various points along the trail, users will find picnic tables, water fountains, and bathrooms or port-a-potties. The Hunt Valley Village across the street from the parking lot on Sweet Air Road has both bike and tube rentals, along with snowballs. You can rent bikes or tubes in the Monkton Village, as well as grab a bite to eat or take a yoga class.
Also located at the Monkton village is the historic Monkton Station, the only remaining station from the railroad’s 140-years of operations. Monkton Station has full bathrooms, a history museum, a gift shop, and serves as ranger headquarters. Further up the trail at the Sparks parking lot, there is a cute little nature center. The Sparks Bank Nature Center is open on Sundays from Noon to 5 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The trail is immensely popular with marathoners. You can extend the trail’s 19.4 miles when you reach the Pennsylvania Line and take it all the way up to York, PA. The trail is also part of the East Coast Greenway, which is a 3,000-mile bike trail system that starts in Calais, Maine and ends in Key West, Florida.
What is your favorite thing about the trail?