Maryland Trails Program

Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail

Torrey C Brown Rail TrailNamed for the third Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Torrey C. Brown (TCB) Rail Trail follows 21 miles of the former the Northern Central Railway (NCR) in northern Baltimore County.

The Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail extends from Ashland, Maryland north to the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, and passes through historic communities including Ashland, Phoenix, Monkton, White Hall, Bentley Springs and Freeland. Hikers, joggers, bicyclists, horseback riders and pets on leashes are welcome. The TCB Rail Trail users are welcome to continue their journey north into Pennsylvania by traveling on the York County Heritage Trail.

Points of interest include:

  • The restored 1898 Monkton Train Station, which serves as a museum, gift shop and Ranger Station. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the Northern Central Railway. The Monkton Station is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and weekends in the spring and fall.
  • The Sparks Bank Nature Center, which features interpretive displays and family activities, is located in Sparks. It’s open on summer weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is available to school groups upon request. ATTENTION: Due to flood damage from Tropical Storm Lee, the Sparks Bank Nature Center is closed until further notice.

The Torrey C. Brown Trail, completed in 1984, is one of the best hiking and biking trails in the Mid-Atlantic region. It allows for more than 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-trail 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 about 140 years, and you can still see part of the old bed, which was converted to a rail-tail in the early 1980s. Today, the Torrey C. Brown Trail is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as part of the Gunpowder Falls State Park.

Amenities along the route include picnic and park benches, drinking fountains for hikers and bikers—dogs too—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 be found within a mile of the trail, and there is easy access to a bike shop that rents and repairs bikes. The trail cuts through several charming Maryland towns: Monkton (a major stop for hikers and bikers), Parkton, Falls Overlook and Bentley Springs. At the MD–PA border near New Freedom, PA, the trail continues as the Heritage Rail Trail County Park.