About this Itinerary
The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail (B&A) is part of the East Coast Greenway and follows the old Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad from Annapolis to Glen Burnie. The B&A is located about 30 miles east of Baltimore, Maryland, and about 33 miles east of Washington, DC. If flying into the area, the Baltimore-Washington International Airport is the closest airport. You can grab a cab to Annapolis or rent a car.
The trail, which sits in Anne Arundel County, is 13 miles long and eight feet wide with an asphalt surface. The trail is mostly flat, making it ideal for a family outing or a round-trip ride for a good work out. The trail follows the route of the Annapolis and Baltimore Short Line that started running freight and passenger service in 1880 and helped shape this region. However, like so many other railroads, the need for it slowly disappeared leaving this rail a perfect spot for a trail.
If you want to stay in Annapolis, we recommend the Historic Inns of Annapolis. They have three properties within walking distance of each other: the Governor’s Calvert House, the Maryland House, and the Robert Johnson. The inn is located in downtown, historical Annapolis and is about five minutes from the Chesapeake Bay. Your stay includes free Wi-Fi and complimentary pastries and coffee in the morning. Valet parking is $24 per night with unlimited in/out access. If you’d prefer to stay right on the water, we recommend the Annapolis Waterfront Marriott. They are the only hotel in Annapolis with views of the bay and they are one minute from the heart of downtown Annapolis. Valet parking is $23 per night with unlimited in/out access.
Pedal Pushers is located just off the trail. They have bike rentals and anything else bike-related that you might need.
Water fountains are located along the trail, but we recommend you bring a sufficient supply of water. We also recommend hitting the trail during the early part of the day in the summer to avoid being in the sun during the hottest time of the day.If you want a longer ride you can connect to the BWI Trail loop via the John Overstreet Connector for an additional 12.5 miles around the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport.
We recommend starting at the southern end of the trail, which is on the outskirts of Annapolis. The trailhead is located off US 50 past the Severn River. To get there, take Exit 27 and head south toward the Naval Academy on Route 450; the Jonas Green Park parking lot will be on your right. Once you park, you will see directions to the trail via an on-road bike lane on the board near the entrance of the parking lot. You will ride under 2 miles on Route 450 to Boulters Way. The ride on Route 450 is a steady uphill climb and is on a secondary highway. Alternatively you can park in the South Lot at the intersection of Boulters Way and Route 450. Once parked, make a right onto Route 450 and an immediate right onto Boulters Way. The entrance to the trail is about a quarter mile up on the right.
If you’d prefer to start at the Glen Burnie trailhead: Take US 50 east from Washington, DC, then take Exit 21 and follow Interstate 97 north. Take Exit 15 leading to SR 176 east (Dorsey Road). Continue on SR 176 before turning right onto SR 648 (Baltimore and Annapolis Boulevard). At the first light, take a right on Crain Highway, then a right onto Central Avenue. The parking lot is on the right and runs along the trail.
From the south, the beginning of the trail is a beautiful scenic route with lush green grass all around. At the 5 mile marker, you come to Severna Park, a small town with large lawns. Here the trail goes straight through the town and nears Route 2, a six-lane highway. The B&A cuts between a strip mall and a residential area. This is a great spot to stop if you need a break or need to get air in your tires. For something cold and refreshing, stop by FroYo House, located in the strip mall. They have a range of flavors to choose from and an endless choice of toppings.
A couple miles down at the half-way point, you come to the Earleigh Heights Ranger Station. It was built in 1889 and served as general store, a post office, a train station and a residence before being turned into the ranger station. Today, the yellow and red building is a beacon of railroad history and trail information. Be sure to pick up the flyer with a literal alphabet of historical markers located along the trail. The station is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. This is one of the two locations on the trail with bathrooms managed by the county; the other location is at Jonas Green Park. In addition to information about the trail and the railroad, this is the beginning of Planet Walk, where science, art, and the outdoors meet. Planet Walk is a 4.6-mile segment of the B&A with a scale of the solar system. Pluto is located at the ranger station and sits on a long, tall steel beam inside nine circles of steel. There are markers along the trail for each of the other planets. The sun sculpture is located in Harundale, just before the end of the trail and it sits on angular steel stilts 26 feet long.
The trail between the ranger station and the Glen Burnie trailhead goes from suburban to urban. It’s not as crowded as the first part of the trail but is scenic and nice to ride. In addition to parks along the way, there are two additional shopping areas—Marley Station Mall and the Harundale Plaza—both with restaurants and a variety of shops.
For dinner, we suggest taking a water taxi ($3 per person) to any one of a number of restaurants. Carrol’s Creek Restaurant overlooks the bay and has a nice deck to dine. We recommend ordering fresh seafood in any form!
There are so many historical places to visit in Annapolis that you could add another day to your trip to explore them. For an awe-inspiring experience, visit the United States Naval Academy (USNA). Founded in 1845 by James K. Polk and George Bancroft, USNA is known as the “yard.” The grounds are breath-taking and, if you time your visit right, you will see the noon formation on the yard Monday through Friday during the academic year and Monday through Saturday during the summer, weather permitting. We also recommend visiting the USNA Museum located in Preble Hall. Additionally, guided tours are available at the USNA Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center for a fee. On the tour you will see the main chapel, the crypt of John Paul Jones, the Buchanan House and much more. Note that the visitor center is only open on weekdays during regular business hours. Note that security is tight and access to the grounds is limited. Be sure to visit the website for detailed information about visiting the academy.
If you want to grab a bite to eat within the confines of the yard, stop by the Drydock Restaurant located in Dahlgren Hall. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
To see what life was like in the 18th century, visit the William Paca House & Gardens. Home to William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary-era Governor of Maryland, this Georgian-style house was opened in 1763 and has been restored to its colonial-era beauty. You may choose from a docent-led tour that takes you through both floors of the house and the gardens (40 minutes) or a shorter tour of just the first floor and gardens. If you’re short on time, you can lead yourself through the gardens. The house is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Full house tours are held every hour on the half hour and first level house tours are held every hour on the hour. Call ahead and check to see if the facility has been rented on the day you’re planning to visit as this is a popular venue to hold weddings and it may limit the time you have to tour the property.