Patapsco Park has loads of classic natural beauty and tons of history as well.
According to this plaque in Patapsco State Park, the river valley was home to America’s first railroad. This trip, I managed to check in at the information center in Ellicott City, and the staff confirmed this. Back in the day, you could ride the first train from Baltimore to Ellicott City.
Behind the plaque, you can see blocky stone cuts, that likely formed the trestle for the old rail. Down the river is the site of an old flour mill. There is much more great history in this park, and matters of environmental concern as well. It is currently being discussed whether to remove an old industrial dam from the river, in order to eliminate an artificial habitat division and fish barrier. I think this is probably a good idea.
While I was in Ellicott City, I stopped in again at the CSX train derailment site to see how the clean up is progressing. On the rails, there was this truck, which is presumably being used to vacuum up the remaining coal. Progress is slow, but it continues.
I ranged very widely on this trip. I’ll try to post an image of the map later. Here is a link to the Google map showing the approximate route.
Most notable is likely the Annapolis road portion, which is not listed as passible in Google. I’d be confident taking my bicycle trailer on this portion of Annapolis road, but use due caution at the I895 clover leaf. Also, be sure to move to the Baltimore/Annapolis trail, if you go south of Cromwell. There is a beautiful park in Balitimore Highlands, adjacent to this road, which is worth checking out. If you get tired, there is easy access to the Light Rail along Annapolis road. If someone wants to give me the right Google link, I’d be happy to submit the Annapolis Rd data. Next time, I’ll try Lansdowne Rd. If I were coming up the East Coast Greenway, I might try to camp in the park, although it is against regulations. 😉 There are also some little used off-rodetrails in the park. I think that the parks are far more beautiful by .
If you have been reading these blog entries, you might remember that I saw a giant owl in Patapsco State Park the last time I was there. I could scarcely believe my eyes, in part because the great bird flew absolutely silently. On my way out of Ellicott City, I took the Old Trolley Trail, and I met a couple who confirmed that they had also seen two of these nearly waist high owls along that trail. Old Trolley Trail is another gorgeous spot, and I’m not surprised that the owls made their home there.
Here are the names of the places and trails that I visited on the trip. Any one of them is worth visiting, especially by bicycle. Bike trails: Middle Branch, BWI, Old Trolley out of Ellicott City, Gwynns Falls,& Jones Falls. Places:City, BWI, Patapsco State Park, Ellicott City, Gwynns Falls park,& back via Druid Hill Park.
The ride was so enjoyable that I would gladly have continued up to the NCR trailhead in Cockeysville to complete 75+ miles. Alas, nightfall arrived, and with it rain, so I reluctantly decided to try again another day.
If you are interested in my previous photos of the CSX train derailment site and clean up, here are links to those stories.