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The 21-mile rail-trail offers a journey through the northern Maryland countryside.

This 21 mile abandoned railroad bed makes an ideal surface for hikers, bikers and horseback riders to enjoy. Points of natural and historic interest can be found along the way, including the restored Monkton Train Station, which serves as a museum, gift shop and ranger station to visitors on the NCR. The Monkton Station is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The station is also open on weekends in the spring and fall. The Sparks Bank Nature Center is also located on the NCR Trail. Operated by park volunteers, the Nature Center is open on weekends from 1 PM to 3 PM and is available to school groups on request.

The northern access at Freeland Road provides the perfect spot for dual recreation. A short jaunt along the rail-trail brings the visitor to Beetree Run, a 12-mile stretch of brown trout waters. Other fish access points include Lock Raven, Big Gunpowder River and Little Falls.

Equestrians can find horse trailer parking along Paper Mill Road, Sparks Road, White Hall and Weisburg Roads, Bentley Springs, and Freeland Road.

Drinking water is available at Sparks, Monkton, and White Hall / Weisburg. Restrooms are at Paper Mill, Phoenix, Monkton, White Hall / Weisburg, Bentley Springs, and Freeland.

Ambitious trail enthusiasts no longer need to make a U-turn when they get to Pennsylvania. The York County (PA) Park system has picked up where Maryland left off. The Pennsylvania portion of the trail currently extends about 10.5 miles to Hanover Junction, with plans to complete the remaining 10 miles into the city of York.

Directions: From Pennsylvania State Line, Travel south along MD State Route 45 several miles turning west onto Freeland Road. Travel 2 miles to parking lot.

Elevation: 750 feet

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

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Gunpowder Falls State Park, Pennsylvania

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.