Self-Guided Opportunities
Cross Country Skiing
Location Gunpowder Falls State Park, Northern Central Rail Trail, now known as the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail, Hunt Valley Hereford Area.
Gunpowder Falls State Park, 410-592-2897.
Trail Access Parking areas are located along many roads that cross the rail trail. To start at the southern end of the trail, nearest the bike rental, take I-83 north to exit 20 for Hunt Valley. Turn right onto York Road and left onto Ashland Road. A small parking area is located where Ashland Road crosses the trail.
Distance 7.5 miles to Monkton Train Station
19.7 miles to the Pennsylvania line
41 miles to York Pennsylvania (one way)
Trail users hike as far as their fitness level and interest allow and return via the same route.
Time 1 hour to all day, depending on the chosen length of the trip.
Trail This former railroad bed is a double-track crushed stone surface that is hard packed and ADA accessible. The trail has a gentle one percent grade. The trail begins in Ashland and continues to York, Pennsylvania. In the lower section, it follows the course of the Big Gunpowder Falls.
Skill Level Easy
Suitable For Families? Yes, with older children
Hazards/Restrictions No motorized vehicles on trail.
Potable Water Water is available at Sparks, Freeland and Monkton year-round.
Natural Features In the southern end, the trail follows the Big Gunpowder Falls and has views of pastoral settings and farm fields. It passes by wetlands. Above Monkton, the topography creates narrow passages where the trail passes through rock outcrops with cool springs that freeze to make beautiful ice formations. The trail becomes more wooded. Great Blue Herons, Blue Birds and Belted Kingfishers fly along the river. A rapids area on the river creates variety in the scenery. In the northern end, a wetland near Beetree Run is home to an active beaver lodge (they move their lodge along the trail yearly).
Historic/Cultural Features This trail is a former railroad bed for the Northern Central Railroad (c. 1840) that once transported milk from local farmers into the city of Baltimore. President Lincoln traveled on it to deliver the Gettysburg Address. The rail line later served as a commuter train until the early 1970's when Hurricane Agnes destroyed the railroad. The trail visits quaint farm towns and passes by historic train stations at Monkton, Maryland and Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania.

The rail trail was officially renamed the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail in 2007, after Maryland's third Department of Natural Resources Secretary, who was the major driving force in developing this multi-use recreational trail.
Guiding None
Rentals Available from outfitters in the Timonium and Towson area.
Camping A privately owned and operated RV park/campground is located in the Freeland Area for the general public.
Other Points of Interest Monkton Train Station serves as a visitor center and museum for the park during April through October. The Hereford Area of the park provides scenic single-track trails lined with hemlocks, mountain laurels and other winter scenery.
Other Accommodations Hotels and motels are located in Hunt Valley and surrounding areas.
Fees or Permits None
Description This trail provides a mostly level tour through farmland, woodland and historic towns with views of the Big Gunpowder Falls. The rail trail is easily accessible from the Baltimore area, and includes restrooms and water at designated locations. Ski through history and look for clues from the days the railroad and milling were active, or enjoy the sights and sounds of nature's wonders along the Big Gunpowder Falls, including birds and other winter wildlife.

Resources Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks
  • Dress in layers and avoid 100% cotton clothes to stay dry