Interested in riding the trails north of Avalon but not sure where to start? Maybe you want to get a preview of some of the trails featured in the Patapsco Trail Fest? Here's a great loop that will hit some technical, rocky trails as well as flowy, hardpack singletrack, with some road and gravel riding to link it together. You'll enjoy fantastic views of the Rt 40 bridge and the ever-present Patapsco River along the way. The ride is only 14 miles, but the hills will put a hurtin' on ya.
Parking may be tight in the Trolley Trail
parking area, especially in the summer months. Mornings are typically fine. Alternatives include parking on Frederick Road, or parking further away and riding to the start. You can also park at the parking area just of Old Frederick Road by the green metal bridge, the mid-way part of the route, or park inside the Hollofield area of the park off Rt 40, and adjust the route as necessary.
You'll pass water and restrooms in the Hollofield section of the park, and there are plenty of restaurants in main street Ellicott City. There are convenience store at the intersection of Oella Avenue and Westchester, just off the Trolley Trail
Start in Old Ellicott City at the public parking lot off Oella Avenue. At the back of the lot, there is a short, steep connection to the Trolley Trail
which you'll ascend to a trailhead on your right leading into Banneker Park for a quick dose of singletrack dirt. Note that the Trolley Trail
is popular with local joggers, dog walkers, and mothers pushing baby strollers, so don't get too rowdy as you ride along this section.
In Banneker, you'll do a quick loop using the Blue Powerline Loop
and Outer Loop Trail
before returning to the Trolley Trail
. Back on the Trolley Trail
, keep ascending until you reach Oella Avenue, where you'll make a left onto the road, then the first right onto Westchester Avenue (next to a convenience store, if you need any water or nutrition), then the first left onto Rest Avenue, then the first right onto Rockhaven Avenue. These are all relatively low traffic roads that are popular with road cyclists, and locals are used to seeing bicycles on the road.
From Rockhaven, there is a trailhead across the street from a baseball field. Thus begins the Oella portion of the ride. Follow the Mill Race to Rockhaven Connector
to the Oella Mill Race Trail
. There is some really fun trail here: rocky goodness and fast downhill. The Oella Mill Race Trail
rides along an old grist mill race and will challenge you with some low-speed technical features before putting you out into an open field approach to the Rt 40 bridge.
Under Route 40 there's a tricky hike-a-bike over a large rock-filled creek, then another hike-a-bike up a steep incline. All this hike-a-biking will be rewarded when you hit the Pickall Trail
featuring some of the best and most technical trails in Patapsco. Take care to keep your feet dry through the stinky creek crossings. After a bit, the Pickall Trail
will take you upstream alongside the river under I-70, eventually leading to Old Frederick Road.
At Old Frederick Road, make a left onto traffic and cross the green metal bridge across the river. After crossing the river and some railroad tracks, you'll pass a parking area on your left and a school bus turnaround on your right. The Old Ranger Trail
begins just a few pedal strokes past the railroad tracks on your left. Note that the Daniels Access Trail
is on your right, which will take you to the Daniels area of Patapsco, but that is not part of this loop.
The Old Ranger Trail
will take you downstream, gradually ascending into the Hollofield area of Patapsco. Old Ranger Trail
will lead you to a park road which will take you under Rt 40, then downhill before picking up the Hollofield Campground Loop
, a trail with rocks aplenty. There are facilities inside Hollofield that are open spring through fall. The Campground Loop
is the last portion of singletrack in this route.
Leave Hollofield on a gravel access road that leads to a low-traffic park road and eventually through a neighborhood. Just settle into the climbs and enjoy the views. Take care on the descent into Ellicott City on Church Road as it abruptly intersects Main Street at the bottom of the hill. On Main Street, you'll make a left to go through the heart of Old Ellicott City, then after crossing a bridge under the railroad tracks, you'll make a left onto Oella Avenue to return to the Trolley Trail
There are restaurants a plenty in Old Ellicott City so lock your bike up on your rack and go grab some calories and post-ride refreshments; you've earned it!
This ride is doable in either direction. You could start from the parking area on Old Frederick Road next to the green metal bridge. There are various additional trails that are worth exploring in Oella, Pickall, and Hollofield.