greenway is on the right path Recreation: One of the city's best-kept
secrets, a surprisingly lush trail in Leakin Park, is slated for
expansion to Federal Hill by 2003.
Published on September 15, 2001
© 2001- The Baltimore Sun
Gwynns Falls bike and hike trail, which threads through Leakin Park
in West Baltimore from Franklintown Road to Leon Day Park, is a
link in a lengthening chain that some hope will unfurl into an East
Coast greenway from Maine to Florida.
now, the goal is to make the park trail part of a meandering 14
miles along a stream valley, cutting through the city where mills
used to jut from the pristine falls landscape. "You'll be able
to get on a bike in [Leakin Park's] parking lot and end up at the
Baltimore Rowing Club or the Inner Harbor," said trail naturalist
2003, at the planned completion of the three-phase trail construction,
Leakin Park on the city's western outskirts should be connected
to Federal Hill and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, passing
the former Montgomery Ward building in Carroll Park, the B&O
Railroad Museum, Camden Yards, PSINet Stadium and the Baltimore
second building phase is slated to begin this fall.
the first phase, Leakin Park's 4-mile portion, remains relatively
unknown, except to those who live nearby. Walkers, joggers, birders,
fly-fishers and bicyclists are quietly passing the word that a secluded
trail is in town: paved, 9 feet wide, among the first visible results
of federal transportation funding. All told, the three phases of
the trail are projected to cost more than $6 million, city officials
a bit of a quandary," Schueler said. "[People] want to
tell their friends, but they don't want it to get too crowded."
On the other hand, Baltimore's neighborhoods tend to be tightly
knit and provincial, she said, so a more populated trail would provide
opportunities for strangers to mingle. At present, many in Baltimore
are unaware of the 2-year-old trail.
the future, enthusiasts expect the trail to present a varied snapshot
of the city that will encourage tourism and an influx of residents.
350 plant species in Leakin Park's 1,200 acres, more biodiversity
and wilderness thrives along the trail than in most urban parks.
A recently published trail guide lists several points of environmental
interest, such as a freshwater wetland near Winans Meadow. And the
scenery is perfect for bird surveys, said Baltimore Bird Club member
Scott Crabtree, as he finished a solitary saunter with his binoculars
one recent morning.
and wildflowers, such as butter-yellow evening primroses, enhance
the trail at this time of year.
fall, it's going to be knockdown gorgeous," said Beth Strommen,
the city greenways coordinator.
time I've been out there, I think, `This is unbelievable, this asset
is close to home,'" said Jacqueline Carrera, executive director
of the nonprofit Parks and People Foundation. "This is more
beautiful than some places in Colorado and West Virginia and the
beginning of a true journey."
foundation, the city's recreation and parks department and the nonprofit
Trust for Public Lands are part of an innovative partnership that
has nurtured the goal of a premier urban bike trail in a city sorely
lacking bike paths.
the Maryland Department of the Environment moves into the former
Montgomery Ward building, residents could ride their bicycles to
work after leaving their cars in trailhead parking lots.
city officials oversaw the design and construction of the trail,
the Trust for Public Land helped acquire the nonpublic land, and
the Parks and People Foundation organized a community base of support
starting in 1994, Carrera said.
the community base evolved into the Gwynns Falls Trail Council,
which meets regularly to advise the city on the best uses of the
has been a fairly harmonious meeting of minds: "This community
enjoys it broadly, because [largely closed] Wetheredsville Road
has become a walking area," said Peter E. Auchincloss, a community
leader in neighboring Dickeyville and a council member.
added that Leakin Park is significantly more safe since the first
phase of the trail was completed: "With police services to
the trail, that's raised some comfort levels. Now, reality is outweighing
perception: Bad things don't happen."
as an invitation to the general public, an art exhibition, Whisper
the Wind, will display outdoor environmental artworks by Maryland
Institute College of Art students starting Sept. 29, during a daylong
festival. 1. User-friendly: Guy Hager, director of Great Parks and
Stream Valleys with the Parks and People Foundation, bicycles through
the four-mile stretch of Leakin Park that is scheduled to grow to
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