I had the opportunity to dedicate my afternoon to a little outdoor recreation, so I picked the B&A Trail to log some serious seat time on my mountain bike. This paved trail is the pride of Anne Arundel County Parks and Recreation and is part of the National Rail-Trail Network. The B&A Trail is the location of the old Baltimore and Annapolis railroad line, which was very popular before the aggressive growth of automobile transportation. Just think, all the talk today is of “sustainable” transportation… and here we have the perfect little path for that.
The trail head is located just outside the City of Annapolis, near the World War II Memorial and Jonas Green Park on Route 450 and the Severn River. I was tempted to start at Jonas Green Park, but I wanted to keep today’s ride pure B&A, beginning and end. The maps show the trail as 13.3 miles from the start at Boulter’s Way “mile marker 0 mile” until end of the line on Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie. I started from the “south parking lot” off Route 450, so my app recorded 13.97 miles.
Long winding road
This asphalt trail is really perfect for road bikes, but I don’t have a road bike (and probably never will), so I slugged it out on my ancient Trek mountain bike… and made sure the tires were fully inflated for a smooth and efficient ride. When starting from the Annapolis area trail head, you really don’t encounter many interruptions to the speedy momentum you gain on this paved trail. As you get closer to Glen Burnie, there are firm stops at lights and the car traffic starts to slow things down. The majority of the ride is straight ahead, as you would envision a railway to be, but here and there you have wooden and concrete bridges, little bends and a few blind curves – so you have to be aware and pay attention for others on the trail.
The Ranger Station at Earleigh Heights is the perfect half time pit stop if you need it. It’s an old railway station and really looks the part. The bathrooms are clean and modern – not your usual public park restroom fare. Inside the station, there is supposed to be a display of the history of this building, which includes a store and post office, but alas, the office was closed. In addition to these amenities, there are many benches, picnic tables, working water fountains to hydrate and fill your bottle, and even a bike repair kiosk. It is a perfect place for a break on this long trail ride.
The county considers this long trail a park, and indeed it is. There are benches all along the trail, with little enclaves of park-like settings. In fact, it is so park-like, you will encounter all types of wildlife along the way. The first animal I saw along the side of the trail was a rabbit, and then counted three more as I road to the end and back. There are many birds at the various wet-land areas. The most interesting encounter was a big buck deer, with antlers, that jumped across the path in front of me and then ran off into the woods. I kicked myself for not having my phone ready to record this event, since I was taking photos and video along the way. Towards the end of my ride, I came across, of all things, chickens. They were running about, pecking at the grass, as if they had just escaped from their pen in someone’s yard.
The B&A Trail is not just for bikes. Half the people I saw on the trail were walking or jogging. It is a nice tree-lined park for a quiet walk, if that is all you want. This trail connects to the BWI trail and there are connections to other trails, such as the East Coast Greenway, as well as groups who advocate for connections – like BikeAAA* for the Anne Arundel Trail Network. I am just discovering all the connections, but it seems that if you really wanted to, with the right map, you could just ride on forever… or until you get a flat or get hungry. I will leave this exploration for another blog post!
*BikeAAA provided the repair stand/pump at the Ranger Station and holds an annual event called the Lifeline 100 (Oct. 2, 2022).