Baltimore City Recreation and Parks hostedthe city’s first trail summit on Saturday, January 28th at the Cylburn Arboretum’s Vollmer Center. The city’s trail summit comes a year after the first Maryland Trail Summit. The event was geared to bring together trail users, park managers and volunteers to celebrate the city’s trail system and plan for the future. Bill Vondraskek, Chief of Parks, opened the summit by sharing of a chance meeting on local trails where he meet IMBA Trail Solutions‘ Dan Hudson. The two saw the potential for developing the Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park trails into a world-class trail system.
Recreation and Parks has several other trail projects in the works. Due for a February 2013 completion, Phase 4 of the Jones Falls Trail is under construction connecting Druid Hill Park, an old landfill (now park) with trails in Cylburn Arboretum. Cylburn is also expanding its trail system with more sustainable designs. Phase 5 of the Jones Falls Trail will begin construction this autumn connecting Cylburn with the Mt. Washington Light Rail Station. The Herring Run Greenway will begin construction next year which will connect the existing trail system with Lake Montebello and Morgan State University. Mr. Vondrasek commended A.J. O’Brien for leading the Friends of Stony Run in developing a neighborhood path from Wyman Park to Cold Spring Lane. While the Friends group wants to discourage bike use of the path by leaving fallen logs on the path, these obstacles are considered ‘fun’ by mountain bikers.
Dan Hudson gave a detailed presentation on natural surface trails in the Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. In partnership with Recreation and Parks, Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is conducting an assessment of natural surfaces trails. The assessment will identify and correct erosion problems, minimize environmental impact, user conflicts and maintenance. Mr. Hudson described a planned “stacked loop” trail system which will provide trail experiences for all user groups from families out for a leisure stroll to trail runners, equestrians and mountain bikers seeking more challenging terrain. Trail improvements will rely on to volunteers and trail contractors create sustainable trail systems in the City of Baltimore.
Nate Evans, from the Department of Transportation (DOT), described the trail efforts conducted by his office. Phase 2 of the Jones Falls Trail is now under construction from the Inner Harbor to Penn Station. This section of trail will connect the existing Jones Falls Trail at Falls Road and Maryland Avenue with the Gwynns Falls Trail at the Maryland Science Center. DOT is also assisting Under Armour with development of the Fort McHenry Greenway. The Greenway will connect Tide Point with Ft. McHenry along the CSX Railroad to Silo Point and across Fort Avenue. DOT is also creating bicycle & pedestrian connection to existing trails. The Guilford Avenue bicycle boulevard will connect Charles Village with the Jones Falls Trail at Mt. Royal Avenue. A planned bike boulevard is in the works along Briarcliff Road connecting the Winans Way Sidepath (which connects directly with the Gwynns Falls Trail) to the Edmondson Avenue bike lanes, which will further connect to the Catonsville Trolley Trails. Mr. Evans also unveiled the 2nd edition of the Baltimore Bike Map, which is due for release this spring.
Molly Gallant closed the Summit by sharing volunteer opportunities for National Trails Day and other trail projects. With over 6000 acres of parkland, guided hikes and rides with training sessions will be available. As Baltimore’s trail system expands, the number of people using the trails will also increase. Recreation and Parks needs assistance from the community to make our trail investments last! To get involved, contact Molly Gallant.