UPDATED OCT 4, 2019
So you love indoor cycling but you want something a little different? Trade the dark room and drop those beats for fresh air and open trails. We’ve got everything from fast and flat to rugged and rustic in this completely comprehensive guide to bike trails in Baltimore.
The closest (we hope!) you’ll ever come to a landing aircraft, this 100% paved and mostly flat path loops the Baltimore Washington International Airport and is great for a steady-state cardio ride. Fitt Tip: ride the trail counter-clockwise to lessen the load of the hills, or if you want a greater challenge tackle the 12.5 miles clockwise.
Tucked away between residential Catonsville and Ellicott City, this rails-to-trails project is short and sweet (1.25 miles), perfect for a quick afternoon ride. Paved and shaded with plenty of tree cover, you’ll cut through massive granite rocks that tower 100ft above the trail. Make it a longer ride by continuing down Edmondson Ave. and riding the #8 trolley path. And if you’re looking for a post-ride meal, head into Ellicott City to Manor Hill Tavern — their brick oven pizzas are to die for.
Gwynns Falls Trail is another classic Baltimore ride and, frankly, is one that doesn’t get enough love. A diverse mix of terrain including pavement, dirt, and gravel, the trail in its entirety winds through 30 different Baltimore neighborhoods. However, we recommend starting in Carroll Park and heading northwest. Fitt tip: This trail is quite long (15 miles), so if you’re in it for the long haul, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in Leakin park — a nature-filled urban oasis.
Experienced roadies and novices alike can appreciate this long paved trail that, as you might have guessed, runs to (almost) Annapolis, Maryland. The trail will take you 13 miles to the foot of the Severn River Bridge. If you’re up for an extra adventure you can ride another 2 miles south to Jonas Park before heading over the Naval Academy Bridge to Annapolis. Stroll around the harbor and grab a bite to eat, a cold brew at one of the many bars, or just shop along the water. This trail is entirely what you make it.
Running along the Patapsco River, a former Baltimore swimming hole in the ’20s, this trail is the perfect city escape for a short bike ride. The trail runs for five miles alongside the gentle babbling Patapsco River, so feel free to dip a toe! The water isn’t deep enough for swimming but can be refreshing for wading. Just know that the park can get really crowded in the summer months and has limited capacity, so in peak months, it’s important to get out early if you plan to park on location.
Patterson Park, in its namesake neighborhood, packs a ton of activities into one little space. One of which is a wide and winding path to be utilized by walkers, joggers, and, yes, bikers. The main loop is about two miles and definitely includes some hills, but the spider web of paths could leave you riding around for much longer. And don’t leave the loop without snapping a selfie in front of the pagoda or taking in the panoramic views of the city from the top of the northwest hill.
Jam-packed with sights and sounds of Baltimore, if you’re looking to see it all and get your fit(t) on in one day, this 10-mile ride is for you. Sure, you’ll hit major sights like the Maryland Zoo and Cylburn Arboretum, but we strongly suggest making a pit stop at Artifact Coffee in Hampden for a pick-me-up. Rent a bike from Baltimore Bicycle works—a funky hole-in-the-wall shop that blends into the surrounding brick except for its brightly blue painted trim—or just stop in for a tune-up as you ride by.
Nestled in between rows of row houses in the Bel Air-Edison neighborhood, this “lollipop” 10-mile trail runs through dense woods before opening up onto Lake Montebello at the far west end. Moderate hills add an extra challenge for your legs, and be sure to keep your eyes out for native wildlife such as beavers, deer and of course blue heron.
A short drive outside the city but worth it for this charming trail, the Patuxent Branch Trail is a mix of gravel and dirt trails surrounded by trees. Stop at the Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge for a photo op or just a quick break before heading to Lake Elkhorn to take in the serene landscape. All tuckered out from the 10 miles? Head over to nearby Jailbreak Brewing Company for a cold brew post ride.
If mountain biking is your jam, don’t miss out on Gunpowder Falls State Park. Though some areas of the park don’t allow bikers, the Little Gunpowder Trail is a nice ride for beginners. And if you practically live on two wheels, make sure to stick to the Sweet Air Area, where the packed dirt single-track trails are a bit more advanced. And, of course, you’ll need to stop and marvel at the falls along the way!