This loop adds fun and interest to your standard rail trail. The singletrack of the Blue Trail
and Red Alternate Trail
offer a few tricky sections that will challenge a beginner, but help them to learn critical skills. It's also a great spot to get in a quick ride.
The Blue Trail
is a nice hike for a family. Kids especially like the swimming hole if there are dogs around.
You can also ride these trails by parking at the Falls Road trailhead, the light rail station and Lake Roland Park.
This ridestarts at the trailhead of the Blue Trail
. You can park on the street along the L'Hirondelle Club, cross over the metal bridge and it will be on your left. It's not marked, but you can see a short hill that drops down toward Roland Run at a break in the road barrier. The Blue Trail
runs for nearly a mile between the water and nearby residences. On the weekend, you'll see quite a few dog walkers and trail runners, but it's much more quiet during the week.
The trail can get very muddy after a few days of rain and takes a week to fully dry out. Many of the really bogged down areas have established workarounds, but there are a few spots where it is too narrow and you just have to plow through or walk it. The start of the trail has two of these areas, but after that, all but one of the workarounds is to the left. They can be tight and twisty, primarily designed for runners, but they are doable on a bike. You are also likely to see deer on the trail, particularly near dawn and dusk.
The Blue Trail
ends at the doggy swimming hole with the Red Trail
bridge above it. You'll head up a short, steep hill with a lot of loose rocks. Take a left on the doubletrack Red Trail
. This trail can get quite busy with runners, dog walkers, and bikers—so stay alert.
You'll cross over the bridge and ride through the forest until you come to a fork in the trail. Take the Red Alternate Trail
to your left, which is the singletrack portion. The trail has lots of large roots and rocks. There are a few short steep hills and a large muddy bog that has a tight narrow track around it. The trail will crest to a narrow pass along a steep drop off. On the right is the dirt trail descent to the Red Trail
Take a right on the doubletrack Red Trail
. This portion is clearly an old rail trail and it has most of the rails still in place. It is a great place for a beginner to learn how to log jump. They are about 4.0 inches high with half a foot or more in between them and there are about 25 of them.
The sections without rails are pretty muddy after a rain. This section ends at the fork. Continue on the Red Trail
, past the entrance to the Blue Trail
. It runs along the Jones Falls, which is especially nice when the trees are leafed out and block the road on the other side. This part of the trail is not muddy, even after a rain and the forest keeps it cool in the summer.
When you hit the Falls Road trailhead, turn around and head back to the Blue Trail
to finish the loop.