Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail (formerly North Central or Northern Central)

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

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 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 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 oasis—an escape from the every day stresses of nearby city life.

Parking and Trail Access

There are numerous access points and parking areas along the entire route. Refer to the map for more details.


Bike-joring, Mushing and Scootering

   March, 2014 by swordwhale

Besides the York County Rail Trail (this trail continues the Rail Trail south), this is one of the best trails to mush on. Yes mush. With dogs. Any dogs (though our groups tends to have northern breeds like Siberians and Malamutes). Dogs love more

Wonderful Trail for a Family Bike Ride

   July, 2013 by diegoysuzie

My husband and I and our 10 and 11 year old love this trail. Easy access, plenty of places to stop and take a break. It is a very popular trail for families, but for good reason, it is wide and pretty flat, which makes it easier for children. Lovely shade, more

Nice Trail

   July, 2013 by obrayc64

But get there early...lots of folks out when the summer gets hot. We've been riding or running this trail for years and it is so much busier than I remember it being. We always start at the Ashland trail head and go north to Monkton. Beautiful but be more