Baltimore Nature Trail Now Open (MD)

Baltimore, MD 5/7/1999 – Slip on your favorite hiking boots, strap on your in-line skates, or hop on a bike and experience the beauty and nature of the completed Phase I area of the Gwynns Falls Trail project!

The Gwynns Falls Trail project is a partnership of the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, the Trust for Public Land, the Parks & People Foundation and the Gwynns Falls Trail Council.

“Projects like the Gwynns Falls Trail make our urban areas more attractive places to live, reconnect residents with nature, and take advantage of the infrastructure and services that are already in place in urban areas,” said Governor Parris N. Glendening. “These trails restore natural systems in our more populated communities, literally rebuilding the ‘green infrastructure’ that once was there. This improves the quality of life of citizens who use or live near them and supports our Smart Growth efforts to make all of our existing communities – the communities where the majority of Marylanders reside – more livable.”

Phase I of the Gwynns Falls Trail, designed by Daft-McCune-Walker, Inc. and built by Beka Industries, Inc., represents the first 4.5 miles stretching from the western end of Franklintown Road near Winans Way to Leon Day Park. It will feature a 1/4- mile exercise loop and a stone amphitheater located near a covered picnic pavilion.

“We are proud to partner with all the other governmental agencies, community leaders, businesses and nonprofits to bring Phase I of the Gwynns Falls Trail to life. It is a great asset to the City of Baltimore and when completed, will bring together over 20 local communities that can enjoy the great outdoors right in downtown Baltimore,” said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Once all three phases are completed, the Gwynns Falls Trail will be a 14-mile hiking and biking trail beginning in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park and follow the Falls to the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and the Inner Harbor. It will connect over 20 West, Southwest and South Baltimore neighborhoods with over 2,000 acres of parklands as well as cultural and historic landmarks. There will be new recreational amenities including an amphitheater, several playgrounds, sports fields, a lighted baseball diamond with bleachers, wildlife observation decks, waterfront boardwalks, picnic shelters, exercise loops, rest stations, and signs acquainting users with environmental and historical information. The Trail route will also link to numerous existing recreational and cultural sites, including the Carrie Murray Nature Center, Outward Bound facilities, and Leakin Park where the Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers conduct steam train rides. It will also link to the B&O Railroad Museum, Mount Clare Museum House, Police Athletic League centers, recreational and cultural centers,?M&T Stadium?(Ravens Football), Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Inner Harbor.

The Gwynns Falls Trail project is made possible by public and private funds. Major public funders include the Federal Department of Transportation and Maryland Program Open Space. Major private donors include the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, France-Merrick Foundation, and Reebok/Rockport International.

The Trust for Public Land works to preserve land for people as recreation areas, open space, wilderness, parks and historic landmarks. Using its real estate, financial and legal expertise, the organization has protected over one million acres nationwide, nearly 4,000 of which are in Maryland. In cities and metropolitan communities like Baltimore, TPL is supporting local efforts to create parks and protect endangered open space by: preserving and celebrating locations representing a city’s unique heritage, increasing public awareness of the role of parks and open space in the quality of urban life, and generating funding to create, improve, and maintain urban parks. Trust for Public Land recently launched its “Greenprint for Growth” campaign to help sprawl-threatened communities protect land as a way to guide development and sustain economy and high quality of life.

Since 1984, The Parks & People Foundation has been Baltimore’s leading nonprofit organization for providing creative solutions to recreation and park issues. In close partnership with communities, other nonprofit organizations, businesses and all levels of government, they are innovators and advocates for great parks and stream valleys, green communities and impelling youth programs.