The Northern Central Railroad Trail, completed in 1984, is one of the best hiking and biking trails in the Mid-atlantic region. It allows for more than 20 miles of flat travel on the crushed-stone surface, punctuated by a number of access points and an abundance of trees that provide refreshing shade on hot summer days. The trail begins in Cockeysville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, and ends just over the state line in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, where the Mason-Dixon Line divides the southern Atlantic states from the Northeastern states.
The history of the rail-trail dates back to 1832, when the Northern Central Railroad carried passengerspeople vacationing at Bentley Springsand 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 bikersdogs tooand 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 MDPA border near New Freedom, PA, the trail continues as the Heritage Rail Trail County Park
The trail is used by an eclectic mix of horseback riders, joggers, walkers, hikers, bikers and people of all ages. On the weekends, the trail is heavily used by local residents and travelers from the Baltimore area, so parking may be a challenge. For those seeking an escape from the urban areas of the region, this trail is a wooded oasisan escape from the every day stresses of nearby city life.
There are numerous access points and parking areas along the entire route. Refer to the map for more details.