Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail also known as Northern Central Railroad Trail, one of the oldest rail trails in the country follows the former Northern Central Railroad line.
Traveling north from Ashland Maryland it passes to its northern border with Pennsylvania. Heritage Rail Trail continues north of the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail 21 miles to the city of York PA. The trail’s name honored its advocate Torrey C. Brown, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.
The trail is 10 feet wide with a stone dust surface and 20 miles long. Leading uses are hiking, biking, jogging and horseback riding. It also provides fishing access. Along the trail markers are placed at 1-mile intervals with #1 at the southern point ending with #19 at the Pennsylvania border.
The southern end of the trail is heavily used on weekends, with parking spaces a premium. On weekends the trail’s northern end is less congested with parking available. Eight parking lots are along the trail with easy trail access. The trail is open sunrise to sunset. Bicyclers should yield to pedestrians and horseback riders. Pets are welcome if leashed to protect all parties.
Helmets are required for bicycle riders under the age of 16, and recommended for all riders to promote safety. The trail is trash free meaning you need to take trash home with you. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on the trail.
Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad organized in 1828 operated Northern Central Railway. The mainline traveled from Canton Baltimore to Sodus Point NY with 22 stops in Maryland, part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system. It offered passenger and freight service, connecting New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. Following assignation in Washington DC in 1865, Abraham Lincoln’s body traveled on the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad through Sparks for burial in Illinois.
The rail line ended in 1972 due to Tropical Storm Agnes damage. Early in 1980 Maryland Department of Natural Resources recognized its potential as a recreational trail so a purchased was made. Advocates and volunteers labored to open the trail to the public in 1984.
Sparks is a suburb 20 miles north of Baltimore with a population of 3,000. Gunpowder River flows through Sparks. Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail passes along the basin of Gunpowder Falls of Sparks. The manufacturer of spices, herbs, and flavorings McCormick & Company is headquartered in Sparks.
The unincorporated area of Parkton is 29 miles north of Baltimore MD, populated by 6,600. Bordering the Mason-Dixon Line and largely agricultural producing corn, soybeans and industrial use crops.
Parkton MD is a 5 hour drive of 309 miles to Rochester NY. Drive route 15 south into Pennsylvania to Harrisburg. Then drive US 83 Into Maryland, after the border exit 36 onto Freeland road. Drive 2 miles to the parking lot for Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail.
Here is one visitor’s impression of the trail.
“The scenery was breathtaking and the trail was surrounded by beautiful trees, running water falls, and lots of wildlife. “