On a bitterly cold January evening in Lauraville, a group of trail enthusiasts got together to discuss how to make the Herring Run Trail much more than what it currently is. Trading ideas while huddled over maps, everyone involved brought a special skill to the meeting: a cartographer, a right-of-way specialist, a trail loving parks employee, a bike blazer, a trail development specialist, a bike shop owner, a bicycle planner, a university community liaison, bike advocates and avid hikers. Everyone also had personal knowledge of the Herring Run stream valley – what’s there and more importantly, what could be there. Before the evening was over, the next steps to creating a world class urban trail system along the Herring Run were set.
Step 1: Go for a hike! On a similarly bitterly cold January morning, the first group of adventurers met at the corner of Herring Run Drive and Echodale Avenue. The morning’s plan was to hike or bushwack downstream to East Cold Spring Lane and determine where a trail could be developed. Heading south along the west bank, we passed through a ball field, then entered the woods where the deer and local kids blazed a thin trail which crosses a joining stream with an equally thin boardwalk. Running up against steep bank, we crossed to the east side and found a myriad of trails extending downstream to the Chinquapin Run confluence.
Step 2: Document that hike! The advent of GPS has made mapping hikes a breeze! Simply turn on Google’s “My Tracks” and walk. With a little cartographic magic, next thing you know, you can see your map in Google Earth. Add a few waypoints and some field notes and you’re almost ready to present it to Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. (But wait, there’s more) Field notes can include anything that would help or hinder the creation of a sustainable trail system; whether it be noted trail re-routes, brush removal and most importantly, trash removal. Being an urban park, many local residents believe the park to be their personal dumping ground. Such is not the case and needs to be remedied in many areas.
- along the length of Chinquapin Run from Herring Run at Morgan State University to Northern Parkway
- Along Herring Run from Echodale, under Northern Parkway, around Mount Pleasant Golf Course
- Along the streams and woods that surround Mount Pleasant Gold Course
- The southern wildlands of Herring Run between Sinclair Lane and Pulaski Highway
Points of interest discovered along the way:
- A million golf balls in the stream channel downstream from Mt. Pleasant
- A bottle refund is desperately needed in Maryland. For those interested in cashing in on easy recycling, hike the Herring Run!
- Beautiful graffiti under bridges and in culverts
- A cave within view of Perring Parkway next to a flowing waterfall
- Fox dens around Mount Pleasant
- Many rusted bike and car hulks, some in the trees.
- Deep swimming holes and rocks that would be awesome for a summertime picnic (pending results of a water test)
- Reforested lands once carved by man and water which would make fun riding for BMX & mountain bikes
Step 4: Present at the Baltimore City Trail Summit! It was determined early on the Trail Summit would be the perfect opportunity to share this endeavor with the public. What started out as a living room full of visionaries quickly expanded with enthusiastic volunteers wanting to be a part of this big project. There is no shortage of work to be done and many hands make light work.
Step 5: Meet with the Friends of Herring Run Parks As this truly is a community project, bring in the stewards of the parks on Monday, May 19th.
Step 6: Repeat Steps 1, 2 & 3 There are many sections of the Herring Run watershed to explore. Future hikes include
- a revisit to the west side of Mt. Pleasant,
- hiking up Overbrook Run into Towson
- exploring connections to the Herring Run between Taylor Avenue and Putty Hill Avenue
- downstream exploration from Pulaski Highway to the head of Back River, where a future kayak launch would serve as an epic southern trail terminus
- If you want to get in on this, the next hike is this Sunday, April 6th starting at 9:30 am from the Orangeville Community Park (Eager & Janney Sts) to explore the “Highlandtown High Line” – a (should be) abandoned rail line from Bayview to Canton. (Yes, even this section is fair game for a potential trail connecting to the Herring Run)