Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail

Trail Map

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The Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail is one of the best hiking and biking trails in the Mid-Atlantic region. It allows for nearly 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 corridor 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 140 years until Hurricane Agnes devastated the tracks. Trail goers can learn more about its history at Monkton Station, which dates back to 1898 and today serves as a visitors center and museum. A rental shop here offers both bikes and inner tubes for floating down the Big Gunpowder River, which parallels the southern end of the trail.

The rail-trail is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as part of the Gunpowder Falls State Park. Its first phase—a 7.2-mile stretch from its southern end at Ashland up to Monkton—opened in 1984. The organization was led by Secretary Torrey C. Brown at the time and the pathway, originally called the Northern Central Railroad Trail, was renamed in his honor in 2007.

Amenities along the route include picnic and park benches, drinking fountains for hikers, bikers and four-legged friends, 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 also be found within a mile of the trail.

The trail cuts through several charming Maryland towns: Monkton, Parkton, Falls Overlook and Bentley Springs. At the MD–PA border near New Freedom, the trail continues as the Heritage Rail Trail County Park. Together, the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail and the Heritage Rail Trail were inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2015.

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

The southernmost trailhead and parking area is located just off York Road/State Route 45 in Cockeysville. A larger and more popular parking lot is located just a half-mile farther north along Paper Mill Road. There are numerous other access points and parking areas along the entire route; refer to the map for more details.


The Awesome Trail

   April, 2016 by discoveryy

My name is Emma I'm 8 years old ,I was at this Trail today with my Family .It was a great trip we had an awesome time because we got to ride our bikes .My brother Sean has a bigger bike than me but i kept on beating him because of the space to ride. My more

First Solo 20 mi. Sprint Ride

   April, 2016 by riicr48

Of course this trail is a 5 star, been planning a sprint ride for a while ( but I wish it was black top )My family and i have done slow casual rides and walks before but on 3/31, I did my first 20 mile sprintit's a great trail, it's used often and its more

Better than a walk in the park

   November, 2015 by pauladel

My husband and I took our two little dogs for the first time on this trail and we absolutely fell in love with it. Very peaceful and quiet, we couldn't stop walking. We walked for about 4 miles and it's mostly a wooded area, but it's very serene. We expect more