|The Old Main Line Trail follows the Patapsco River.|
It’s always exciting to discover something close to home that I’m definitely going to go back to visit, over and over again.
|A pair of Mallard ducks make use of a semi-permanent puddle along the Old Main Line Trail.|
That happened when I discovered the Old Main Line Trail, a trail in Daniels Area of the Patapsco Valley State Park, a park that follows 32 miles of the Patapsco River between upper Howard County and Baltimore. Everyone should live near a state park that’s wonderful to visit and revisit!
The Old Main Line is still an active railroad line owned and operated by CSX Transportation. It runs from Relay (outside Baltimore) west to Point of Rocks, through Ellicott City and, of course, Daniels, Maryland’s very own ghost town. The Old Main Line was once the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, rail lines in the United States.
|When the Ruins Loop breaks off from the Old Main Line, the Old Main Line Trail is muddy and slightly impassable.|
The initial route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) followed the Patapsco River valley west out of Baltimore, with the first section (to what is now Ellicott City) opening for service in 1830.
|A active railroad tunnel at the turn-around point of our approximately 5.5 mile hike.
The trail goes further, across the tracks and along the river — we’ll explore that in the future!
Now serving as a rail trail for bikers and hikers, the Old Main Line Trail is possibly the first rail trail in the U.S. Please note, I’d only take a sturdy mountain bike on this trail — I’m not sure my Trek hybrid would navigate the trail well (or perhaps it would, but the rider isn’t skilled enough).
The Old Main Line is still an active rail road, traveling on the opposite shore of the river in the early part of the hike; at one point, the trail actually crosses over the active tracks to continue along the river.
|From the trail you can see what’s left of the former community of
Daniels, now a ghost town filled with memories and mystery.
Know before you go: There is parking for about eight cars. After that fills up, you park illegally (not recommended). For such a beautiful area, it is disappointing there’s not more space for parking legally.
|Newt, our treeing walker coonhound puppy, climbs the steps as if to enter the vanished house.|
Getting there: Patapsco Valley State Park – Daniels Area, 2090 Daniels Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043
Hours: Dawn until dusk. Go early.
For other hikes in the Patapsco Valley State Park, check out the following articles:
- Avalon Section/Grist Mill Trail
- Cascade Falls Trail / Orange Grove Area
- Daniels — Maryland’s Ghost Town
- Daniels Winter Hike
- Daniels Old Main Line and Ruins Loop Hike
- Daniels Old Main Line in the Spring
- Hell House and revisiting Hell House
- Marriottsville Road to McKeldin Rapids Hike
- McKeldin Area