Thursday, August 09, 2007

Weekend Escape 6 – The Trails of Baltimore

Less than 100 miles south of Philadelphia, Baltimore MD shares Philly’s image of endless row homes and a gateway to great bicycle rides. There are 4 major trails - North Central Rail Trail (which connects to the York Heritage Trail), The Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, The BWI Trail and the Gwynns Falls Trail. Baltimore is right in the middle which makes it a great location to spend at least two days bicycling exploring an emerging regional trail network that if were tied together would rival Washington DC’s regional network.

And in a sense they are almost tied together already via the Central Light Rail Line. In fact you could ride from York to Annapolis and skip the city of Baltimore altogether. But why would you want to do that?

So we’ll get you down to Baltimore, and leave the decision of where to go to you.

Birds Eye View of the Inner Harbor from

Getting to the trails – Amtrak is the obvious if expensive choice, the rub is that you have box and check you bike at least a day ahead of time so that it’s there when you arrive. The cost of buying a bike box and checking it on the train is about $15. You can bring a folding bike on the train for no charge.

Buses are not much more amenable; Greyhound requires you to disassemble and box your bicycle and is not nearly as accommodating as Amtrak. On the plus side you can save lots of money and take a Capitol Trailways bus directly to York which would allow a one way ride to Baltimore. Check with the terminal ahead of time to make sure that boxes are available. A good trick may be to call ahead to Bike Line adjacent to the bus station on Arch Street in Chinatown to see if they have any bike boxes available (they throw them out anyway). Apex Bus does carry bicycles and runs 3 times daily to Baltimore.

Once your there then getting around on bike is a much easier option Baltimore’s Light Rail and Subway lines allow bicycles at all times, Rabbit Transit in York County has bike racks on all buses as well as Annapolis Transit. C-60 which connects with the Light Rail at BWI Airport also carries bicycles.

Bike Rentals may be the sanest option Light Street Cycles (1015 Light St
Phone: (410) 685-2234, closed on Sundays) is the only place in downtown that we know of that rents bicycles.

Lodging – Downtown and BWI offer the most accommodations. There are plenty of sites that offer accommodations downtown such as Orbitz, Priceline, and Google. Before you make your reservation you may want to ask the hotel about their bicycle policy. Annapolis offers some high end bed and breakfasts as well as the usual chains on the highway, the same can be said to lesser degree for York.