County advocates of the American Discovery Trail, a coast-to-coast hiker-biker path, have decided to drop the B & A Trail as the main route through Anne Arundel in the interest of shortening the walk from Delaware to San Francisco.
The new route would still cut through the county, following Route 450 from Crofton to Annapolis, before crossing the Old Severn River Bridge and following access roads to a pick-up point where a private taxi service will take cross-country hikers and bikers across the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore.
Preliminary plans had the trail cutting north from Annapolis on the B & A Trail on its way around the Chesapeake Bay.
"We're looking for the one trail that makes the most sense for ourscouting expedition, but that doesn't mean there can't be alternatives published in the guide book," explained Heather Douglas of Backpacker magazine. Douglas agreed with the consensus of Maryland and Delaware trail advocates at a meeting Friday.
Using the Bay Bridge cuts 200 miles out ofthe hike to Delaware's Cape Henlopen Park and eliminates logistical problems of getting in and out of Baltimore.
Backpacker and the American Hiking Society, with the sponsorship of Chevrolet and the Coleman camping supply company, are planning to publish a guidebook delineating the trail and scenic side routes in 1992. Backpacker also willpublish a preliminary outline of the trail in its June edition.
Athree-member pioneering expedition that began mapping the trail justnorth of the San Francisco Bay last June has crossed the MississippiRiver and figures to be in Maryland by late May.
The goal of the expedition and guidebook is to focus the nation's attention on the need for greenways and to get National Scenic Trail designation from Congress for an East-West trail. Only the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails have attained that status so far.
Eventually, advocates plan to build a trust fund that would go toward hiring a full-time professional maintenance staff and pay for the purchase of easements and private lands allowing sections near highways to move away from the roads.
Jack Keene, the county Department of Recreation and Parks' capital projects manager, said the American Discovery Trail movement could be a big boost for the county's plan to turnthe South Shore line of the old W B & A railroad into a hiker-biker trail.
Work began on the first half-mile segment of the South Shore trail last November and is expected to continue piecemeal throughout the 1990s as money to buy and develop the line is made available. Prince George's County is also slowly converting to parkland its portion of the 46-mile defunct railroad bed leading into Washington.
"Ithink it's really important to focus on the linkages and to focus onthe bigger picture nationally," Keene said, noting that the South Shore Trail would connect population centers in Annapolis, Odenton, Crofton and Washington.
A secondary goal of the American Discovery Trail movement is to bring trail blazers together and challenge them tobuild a web of public, scenic, and preferably off-road trails all around the central ADT "spine."
Hikers from as far away as Wilmington and Dover, Del., and from Pennsylvania brought their maps to Friday's meeting and came up with more than half a dozen such routes.