Maine-to-Florida trail: Start walking Urban greenways: Ever-popular metropolitan trails may stretch the whole East Coast.

June 20, 1996

ONE OF THE fascinating trends of recent years has been the boom in greenways. Several already exist in the Baltimore region, and other nature trails are planned to accommodate a growing number of hikers and bikers.

Now comes word that the 13.3-mile Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, which runs from Glen Burnie to Severn, has been selected as one of the first designated sections of the East Coast Greenway network.

Running parallel to Ritchie Highway on the bed of the old Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad tracks, this trail will be among paths recommended for use by those who want to traverse from Maine to Florida -- or points in-between -- using a 2,500-mile stretch of recreational paths.

This is a suburban equivalent of the more remote Appalachian Trail, which is used by backpackers from Maine to Georgia. Or the Intercoastal Waterway, which allows boaters to move through much of the Atlantic Seaboard without the hazards of open seas.

"It's an affirmation of what's right about trails," says David Dionne, park superintendent of the B&A Trail. "We don't have the greatest scenery. But what we do have is a safe trail that has been recognized for the way the community has embraced it and the way it's been designed. It's a national model."

Mr. Dionne, who is a board member of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, has also nominated Baltimore County's Northern Central Railroad Trail for the initial network which opened this month and seeks to link cities between Boston and Washington. Subsequent phases will develop links between Washington and Miami and Boston and Augusta, Maine.

The East Coast network is opening at a time when several new greenways are being planned in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Among them is a nature trail that will run through Gwynns Falls Valley to Camden Yards. Meanwhile, the planned Patapsco Heritage Greenway could one day stretch from Sykesville in Carroll County to Elkridge in Howard County, and take hikers to ruins of such one-time textile mills as Daniels and Avalon.

The existing greenways are popular because they have proven to be safe -- an essential condition for the success of future trails.

Pub Date: 06/20/96

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