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The Gwynns Falls Trail is a 19-mile continuous corridor connecting dozens of west and southwest Baltimore neighborhoods with parks, historical and cultural landmarks and the urban business district. The trail leads a circuitous route through its namesake park and southeast to downtown Baltimore.
The greenway provides a fantastic off-road way for cyclists and pedestrians to access the city and urban nature corridors, including more than 2,000 acres of publicly owned land within the Gwynns Falls stream valley. The Gwynns Falls Trail generally follows the creek to the Middle Branch the Patapsco River and also Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park itself has 10 miles of natural paths.
At the Inner Harbor, you can extend your route by connecting to the Jones Falls Trail, which heads northward for another 9 miles of riding.
From I-695 (Baltimore Beltway), take Exit 16/Rt 70 East Park & Ride to merge right onto Security Boulevard. Turn right on Forest Park Avenue and right. Turn right on Franklintown Road; at the stop sign turn left to continue on Franklintown Road. After about 1.5 miles, you'll find the trailhead at Winans Meadow on the left.
From I-83 (Jones Falls Expressway), take the westbound North Avenue Exit. Continue past Hilton Parkway and turn left onto Morris Road. Turn left onto Franklintown Road. The trailhead at Leon Day Park is on the right.
From downtown Baltimore, take Franklin Street westbound (or I-70 in the city) to Edmondson Avenue. Take Hilton Parkway northbound and turn left onto North Avenue. Turn left onto Morris Road and left onto Franklintown Road. Look for the trailhead at Leon Day Park on the right.
For other access points, visit the Gynns Falls website (link to the right under "Related Links").
We rode the length of the trail from the I-70 Park & Ride to Carroll Park. For the first half of the trail, you could easily forget that you're in West Baltimore. The woods were beautiful, and the hills were perfectly manageable. The on-pavement markings kept us on the right trail and navigated us along the on-road segments (for the most part - more on that later). All-in-all, it was an enjoyable ride. Three issues of note, one small, one bigger and one huge. The small issue: the segment between Windsor Mill Road and Morris Drive is the only unpaved portion of the trail, so with all the recent rain, there were a lot of puddles and shallow mud. Nothing that a hybrid or MTB can't handle. Next, from Leon Day Park to Ellicott Driveway is nothing but inches-thick mud. There's evidence of flood damage in the trees, so this is most likely the result. Hopefully it'll dry up and go away with time. Now the huge problem: the trail is closed from Ellicott Driveway to just south of the Edmondson Ave overpass due to construction work on the bridge, and there is no marked detour. This is obviously a long-term project, so the city should have put something up other than "TRAIL CLOSED" signs.
We wound up going uphill to Franklintown Road, across Edmondson, then down to W Baltimore Street to get back to the trail. This detour only added another half-mile to the ride. If you're riding south-to-north, there's no warning about the closure until you come up on it a half-mile from the last road crossing at W Baltimore.
Tried riding the trail yesterday (4/30/18), but flooded out and closed for indefinite period of time. Very disappointing.....
I rode from the western end at Franklintown Road near Woodlawn to the Inner Harbor. I enjoyed the switchbacks on some of it's steeper hills, and the natural beauty of the Gwynns Falls watershed. The trail is well marked - :) I did not get lost.
It truly is a hidden gem inside the city!
Nice trail with a lot of variety. I started at mile marker 2.75, Carroll Park, and did a round trip to the western end of the trail at marker 10.75 and back. This part is off-road and asphalt for all but a mile stretch west of Leon Day park. Also the trail is closed from Frederick Avenue to West Baltimore, which entails about a ¾ mile detour that is not well marked. But it was a relatively gentle up-hill grade the first half, and enjoyable downhill coming back. The trail followed the stream the whole way, so nice views of the waterway and some interesting bridge crossings. Well-shaded and all-but deserted, with some interesting trail markers on the local history. I had no problem using my thin-tired road bike, and I would go back to explore more.
I rode from the 70 and 695 trail head to Inner Harbor and back. I did not take the southern section from Inner Harbor. Not A bad ride but I did it on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and no one was on it. The last few miles are on city streets. They were pretty empty as well. It is all down hill into the city, so it is all up hill going back. They use small marks painted on the street to guide you so you have to keep an eye out for them. You are in the city and some of the areas might scare some people. Don't count on crowds on the trail for protection you are alone. I had no problems, and never had any issues. I was alone, but having a buddy might not be a bad idea. The park portion is very nice and it is hard to believe you are in the city.
I'd like to rate this higher than two stars, and understand the potential perils of biking in an urban area. I'm conflicted and bothered by this trail though. I rode it a few times several years back, and the main problem then was that the signage was poor. The good news is that they fixed that problem, the bad news is they ignored everything else.
I rode the trail recently and there were a multitude of problems. This is unfortunate, because the trail passes through some very scenic areas. I may try it again sometime, but it will be with considerable hesitation.
The pavement has been neglected and now there are places where it has buckled badly, and can rattle your bones or worse. If you ride here, I'd recommend a hybrid or at least wheels with some rubber. There is also a short stretch that is not paved, is much worse than I remember it, and in my view, is not really passable on a road bike. There is a lot of debris also, some trash, but mainly tree limbs and such that are not cleared.
My safety was a concern as well. The trail used to be patrolled (and maintained) with some regularity. I think that idea has been abandoned now, and I saw no evidence of any sort of county or municipal presence. What I did see were groups of tough-looking kids that blocked most of the path as I went by. Scared? Nervous? Not too bad; there were walkers with dogs and a few other bikers that balanced things out. I'm in my early 60s, but haven't lost all of my nerve or may taste for a little adventure. That is until I looked about 100 yards in the distance and saw (I swear to you) what I was pretty sure were two people fornicating. Right out in the open along the side of the trail, not off in the woods where I would have gone, assuming that I could have found anyone willing to go along with such a thing. There was no way to turn around and no choice but for me to speed by them. They hardly seemed to notice me as I went by. I went as fast as I could the rest of the way and didn't stop again.
Two stars; gee. Give it one more maybe, the parkland and creek are beautiful in spots and there are places where you can't believe you are in the middle of Baltimore City. This could be a fantastic trail one day, but oh boy, be careful here.
My wife (hybrid) and I (road) road from Winan's Meadows to Carroll Park yesterday and it was a great ride. The trail is a mix of mostly paved with some hard-packed, relatively smooth dirt/gravel. The little painted trail markers and accurate signage facilitated staying on the trail while negotiating some city streets. The few hard uphills were short in distance. I'd recommend this trail to the novice and beyond.
We got on this trail from the Carroll Park area. It is quite urban for the first couple of miles, and there are a few hills which will be challenging for beginners. But the later part is mostly flat or rolling. This trail has several road crossings, and the cars do not even think about stopping. Be very careful at these intersections! The trail is also not very clearly marked in some spots, so you do have to look around for the signs to figure out which way to go. After about 3-4 miles, the trail gets nicer, more rustic and wooded. There are some nice views along the river despite the occasional graffiti and plastic bottles floating. There is a packed gravel section we followed on the way back which was a bit bumpy for a road bike, but manageable. There are bathrooms & a water fountain at Winans Way which was a good point for a break. It was a nice enough trail, but I probably wouldn't make a special trip to go back.
My free membership bike club, the C3 Riders (www.orgsites.com/va/c3), (shameless plug) rode the GF trail for the first time Saturday (9/19). We used hybrids. Everyone had a great ride, and I personally was nearly delirious with how much I enjoyed the ride. The incredible scenery, the history and ruins along the entire length, the challenge of some hills in balance with pleasant relatively flat stretches, the overall condition of the paved and unpaved path, the intelligent switchbacking on steep descents/climbs, how it travels through recreational parks (for activity watching) and how it ends right into the waterfront area...I cannot say enough. Best ride I've had this year, hands down! The only thing that surprises me is how underused it was that day. But we're happy it was.
The only downside was in two spots where there were fallen tree limbs partially blocking the path. As for the criticism about how the trail is marked, yes, I understand the disappointment of others, but exploring the trail branch-offs is equally cool as far as I am concerned. The crossing through Frederick Rd. was okay -- a little narrow on the sidewalks, but at no time did anything seem sketchy, and that was over and done with quickly.
The whole ride is an adventure that is never boring. I highly recommend it.
I have ridden on parts of the trail which get very dark because there is no lighting. Like the previous writer, I have never felt threaten on the trail. My fears are more about getting lost because sometimes the signage is not clear and hitting a pothole or obstruction when it gets dark at night. Even riding through the neighborhoods which generally aren't considered the best around is fine. I am a female and I have never been scared on the streets there.
The trail is trashy is some areas and the stream obviously polluted. I really get annoyed about people not being careful with their waste.
I rode this trail on July 6, 2009. I started at the trail head off Franklintown Road with the Inner Harbor being my midpoint destination. I printed out the tail map since this was my first time. The trail is not clearly marked for a person riding the trail for the first time. I ride a hybrid Trek so the upper portion that was more suited to mountain bikes than road bikes was not a real problem. There are various places in this off road section that would be muddy following a hard rain. The middle portion of the ride follows a stream mostly downhill. Actually, from where I started it was almost entirely downhill. (Means the ride home is uphill :)). I lost the trail at Fredrick Ave where the trail meets the street. There were no signs (or I did not see them) directing to the next stretch of the trail. The map I printed was confusing as well. Looking at it today on my computer in my office, it makes perfect sense... I went in several different directions looking to pick up the trail and just gave up and followed my way to Pratt and on into the Inner Harbor. I did not ride the Inner Harbor loop so I can't say if there were any signs. I did not feel comfortable riding back on the trail dues to the lateness of the day and the neighborhoods that it passed through. I elected to stay on the streets and find my way back to the trail head. In retrospect, at no time was I threatened or did I feel threatened while on the trail. There simply was no one else on the trail! It was after 7 pm and sundown was around 8 pm so lighting on the trail was diminishing quickly. The ride on the streets went though many neighbors where maybe I did not belong. The ride would have been more fun for me if the trail had better signage or I traveled with either a group or somebody else that knew the trail. It was not a straight, can't get lost rail trail. I might consider this again if I find myself in Baltimore with my bike and have an earlier start.
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