Baltimore’s 14-Mile Gwynns Falls Trail Completed
Baltimore, MD – June 4, 2004 – After a decade and a half effort, the Gwynns Falls Trail, a 14-mile hiking and biking trail through Baltimore City, is now complete. Today, National Trails Day, trail partners will be joined by Mayor Martin O’Malley, Congressman Ben Cardin, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, and community residents for a celebration on the trail at Solo Gibbs Park. In addition to being one of the premier urban trails in the United States, the Gwynns Falls Trail is part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the East Coast Greenway.
“The Gwynns Fall Trail is an ideal way to showcase Baltimore’s wonderful assets,” said Mayor O’Malley. “By linking more than 30 neighborhoods in Baltimore, residents and visitors will be able to explore nature in the heart of Baltimore City while traveling through Baltimore’s wonderful and unique communities.”
The Gwynns Falls Trail follows the Gwynns Falls stream valley from Leakin Park near historic Franklintown, through 2,000 acres of parkland, more than 30 neighborhoods, and numerous historic and cultural sites before arriving at the Inner Harbor and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. The newly completed seven-mile stretch links Carroll Park to Middle Branch Park, the Inner Harbor, the Jones Falls Trail, and the Chesapeake Bay.
“Experience Baltimore in a whole new way. Whether playing, exploring, commuting, or just relaxing, using the Gwynns Falls Trail reminds us of how unique and wonderful Baltimore is. The trail links Baltimore to the Chesapeake Bay by joining one of the largest urban wilderness parks remaining on the East Coast, Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, with the Inner Harbor and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. We are happy to have been a part of this public-private partnership demonstrating that Baltimore’s parks are an exciting destination,” said Jacqueline M. Carrera, executive director of the Parks & People Foundation.
“This is a great day for Baltimore. The Gwynns Falls Trail is a resource that rivals that of any other city. From hiking, biking, and rollerblading, to kayaking on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, the trail provides access to countless recreational resources,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president of the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places. “This project was a labor of love, and it could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of many partners and supporters. We are grateful to all of them.”
“The Gwynns Falls Trail is a major asset to Baltimore City that will spur development, improve neighborhoods, and encourage people to move into the city. With the completion of the construction, the council will focus its efforts on involving community residents as stewards of the trail to enhance the trail experience, to raise funds, and to promote the trail throughout the region,” said Bill Eberhart, chair of the Gwynns Falls Trail Council, a membership-based public-private partnership consisting of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and citizens to promote, support, and improve the trail.
“This trail is the realization of a dream for many who love nature and the natural environment. It connects many diverse communities and transports travelers between deep forests and bustling urban neighborhoods. It also showcases the hard working efforts of both the Recreation and Parks staff and our partner citizen groups. These partnerships will be the key to sustaining what we dedicate today,” said Connie A. Brown, acting director for Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks.
During the grand-opening celebration, DASANI will present a symbolic check for $65,000 to Mayor O’Malley and the Department of Recreation and Parks, representing the value of DASANI enhancements to the trail and other donations. In addition, the DASANI “Blue Bikes” community bicycle program supported by Trek? will officially kick off in Baltimore. The initiative provides residents with the free use of 20 Trek Cruiser Classic bicycles to explore Gwynns Falls Trail. DASANI “Blue Bikes” will be housed in specially designed storage lockers, located at Leakin Park and Carroll Park, giving residents free access, 24 hours a day. Baltimoreans can take part in the program by registering for a swipe card at the Gwynns Falls Trail main office or during the grand opening celebration. Cyclists can simply swipe the card at “Blue Bikes” lockers to remove a bike, and return it at the end of their ride. As part of the donation, DASANI will provide permanent picnic tables and recycling bins to Gwynns Falls Trail for people to use during trail visits. Baltimore is the first of eight cities taking part in the DASANI “Blue Bikes” program, which will provide more than 150 bicycles for use on more than 200 miles of trails across the country.
Congressman Ben Cardin, a long-time supporter who has been responsible for $3 million in federal funding for the Gwynns Falls Trail, will lead a pre-event bike tour covering eight miles on the trail. “Expanding and developing new greenways has been one of my most satisfying achievements in Congress. These trails run from urban to suburban areas, connecting neighborhoods and allowing Marylanders to experience the joy of the outdoors,” said Congressman Cardin.
“Children are the living messages we send to the future,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. “By opening these trails to children, we are opening the gates to the future.”
Funding for the approximately $14 million project included federal, state, and local funds. Public funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The City of Baltimore supported the construction, design and enhancement of the trail.
Major private support was also provided by The Abell Foundation, American Conservation Fund-American Greenways Dupont Award, the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Baltimore Orioles, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Constellation Energy, The France-Merrick Foundation, Lockhart Vaughan Foundation/Clayton Baker Trust, MetLife Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trust, Rockport/Reebok Anti-trust Settlement, The Wallace Foundation, and many other generous philanthropic partners supported community outreach, marketing, planning and design and major trail enhancements.
In addition to linking significant park resources, the Gwynns Falls Trail also provides unique, non-vehicular access to numerous existing recreational, historic, and cultural sites including the B&O Railroad Museum, the Baltimore Rowing Club, M&T Bank Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Maryland Science Center, and the Inner Harbor. In 2006, utilizing funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s alternative transportation program, the trail will be extended to the I-70 Park & Ride facility on the western edge of Baltimore City. For more information, visit www.gwynnsfallstrail.org.