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  1. #1
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    Relocating to Towson (N Baltimore), looking for some local perspective.

    After 11 years in Raleigh NC, I have to move to Baltimore for a year. Going to miss being riding distance to some trailheads Looking for some locals perspective on what the good trails are in the Charm City.

    I've looked around and it seems like Loch Haven is right next door and supposed to be good riding. Seems Patapsco and stuff near Frederick (Gambril/Watershed) are similar driving distances. Sounds like for the same drive time, Frederick pulls ahead? I've also heard about White Clay and Fair Hill--how do they stack up?

    I like things either fast & flowy, or chunky and steep. I'm used to riding WNC/Pisgah, and love a epic gravel climb and some rocky fast singletrack descents. Are there more epic rides West of Frederick that could be found in less than a 3hr 1-way drive?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevehollx View Post
    After 11 years in Raleigh NC, I have to move to Baltimore for a year. Going to miss being riding distance to some trailheads Looking for some locals perspective on what the good trails are in the Charm City.

    I've looked around and it seems like Loch Haven is right next door and supposed to be good riding. Seems Patapsco and stuff near Frederick (Gambril/Watershed) are similar driving distances. Sounds like for the same drive time, Frederick pulls ahead? I've also heard about White Clay and Fair Hill--how do they stack up?

    I like things either fast & flowy, or chunky and steep. I'm used to riding WNC/Pisgah, and love a epic gravel climb and some rocky fast singletrack descents. Are there more epic rides West of Frederick that could be found in less than a 3hr 1-way drive?
    Don't be too depressed, I think you're gonna enjoy the trails here actually!

    Starting with the closest and working my way out:

    Loch Raven - Haven't been but I've heard there are a small amount of decent trails, not a destination by any means but I know a few guys that call those trails home and happily so. Double check legality though, I've heard mixed signals on some of the trails and I know ticketing has happened in the past.

    Patapsco - TONS of really good trails. Gotta be over a hundred miles; I've done the whole length and back once and it was 60+ miles in a fairly direct route. Trails tend to be flowy but there is some technical stuff to be found... Really just super fun riding in general; nothing too tough (technical or climbing wise) but plenty of challenging spots to keep it interesting.

    Frederick - Gambrill and the Frederick Watershed are very technical. Lots of rock, some of it bordering on trials-like riding. There is also DH and freeride stuff if you know where to look. Gambrill is easy to navigate, the watershed is a bit tougher.

    Montgomery County - Probably equidistant to Frederick but with worse traffic. There is an amazing amount of interconnected trails all over the county. Check out the MoCo Epic ride MORE puts on for some ideas, but Schaeffer Farm is usually considered the highlight. MoCo trails are fast and flowy, with Schaeffer or Little Bennett having a small amount of roots (very few rocks) to make it just a tad more technical.

    Further out you have Michaux up in Pennsylvania with big climbs and technical descents. It's a big area and has a back-country vibe to it. Your best bet for more 'epic' riding will probably be Virginia though... George Washington National Forest has an incredible amount of excellent single track ranging from flow to super-technical. Elizabeth Furnace outside of Front Royal is some of the most technical riding I've ever seen and within three hours of Baltimore. I have lived in the area my whole life, ridden MTB for over ten years and still have barely scratched the surface of GWNF riding.

    Hope this helps. Check out Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), our local MTB club (an affiliate of IMBA now) for more info... Though they're not doing a whole ton of group rides these days. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Actually, what TheDwayyo said is spot on. The ridding in that area is very good. You won't get the epic gravel climb with long descents (in most places) but overall the riding is very good and more technical as well. Honestly, Gambril has sections that make look Farlow look like a paved path.

    Places like fair hill and white clay are very nice with lots of flow. Fair hill is a very natural place with not many technical things but not smooth dirt, if you know what I mean.
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  4. #4
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    Awesome response, thanks! That helps me align expectations of what to start chasing.
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  5. #5
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    Dwayyo gives a good run down. I'll add:

    Loch Raven - used to rate up there as a go-to spot but recent crack downs mean a lot of the best trail is technically off limits. Trails get patrolled and tickets issued. Do a google search and you'll find details.

    Gunpowder State Park - close to Loch Raven, when the clamp down on LR started, it breathed new life into Gunpowder trail advocacy. Huge improvements over the years, now the place to go in the Towson area.

    Lake Redman (a.k.a. William H. Kain park and Richard M. Nixon park) in PA. 40 minutes north of Towson, super easy drive up I-83. Check in with local group YAMBA for rides/info

    Frederick area is where the technical is and the longer climbs. Patapsco is flow, short ups and downs in a river valley, lots of mileage options.

    More tech and lots of trail: GW Nat. Forest to the south, Michuax to the Northwest
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  6. #6
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    Dwayyo said it perfectly. You're not going to miss much here. I vacation in Bravard once a year. Youll get almost as much climbing in, you can pick the terrain you want to ride for the day..but if you rode at night a lot you'll miss that. Night rides have to be done in group rides. Vs when in WNC we would ride Pisgha during the day, grab something to eat. And ride Dupont till 10pm.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by riderx View Post
    Loch Raven - used to rate up there as a go-to spot but recent crack downs mean a lot of the best trail is technically off limits. Trails get patrolled and tickets issued. Do a google search and you'll find details.
    Back in 2015 a some sort of agreement was supposedly implemented to finally get bikes into Loch Raven (see this article from 2015: Deal will expand mountain biking at Loch Raven Reservoir - Baltimore Sun). Almost ever day now, there is a good group of bikers parked at the trailhead at Seminary Ave and Dulaney Valley Rd. Safe to say Loch Raven is now a safe and legal place to go?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Szy_szka View Post
    Back in 2015 a some sort of agreement was supposedly implemented to finally get bikes into Loch Raven (see this article from 2015: Deal will expand mountain biking at Loch Raven Reservoir - Baltimore Sun). Almost ever day now, there is a good group of bikers parked at the trailhead at Seminary Ave and Dulaney Valley Rd. Safe to say Loch Raven is now a safe and legal place to go?
    Broadly speaking, not much has changed since the agreement. City still has the same people dragging their feet, making the same excuses. People still ride, but not much has changed with officially designated trail. Follow the LR FB page for updates from people on the ground. https://www.facebook.com/groups/85793068924/
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  9. #9
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    riderx mentions Lake Redman up I-83. If you are going to head that direction you might as well drive the extra 15 minutes and go to Rocky Ridge. Lots of technical riding there and almost impossible to get lost. Info should be on the YAMBA site as well. Welcome to the area!

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