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DNR Announces Third Phase Of Work Completed On Western Maryland Rail Trail
HANCOCK — Visitors to the Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) now have two additional miles on which to enjoy hiking, biking and strolling through Maryland’s countryside. Today, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary C. Ronald Franks and Deputy Secretary Lynn Buhl were joined by representatives from city, county, state and federal agencies at a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open a 2.1-mile extension of the trail. The completion of this third phase of work makes the trail 22.5 miles long.
“Maryland state parks provide unique trails in natural settings that offer wonderful opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors,” said Secretary Franks. “The Western Maryland Rail Trail is one of the great DNR success stories because it’s a perfect example of what can be accomplished when agencies and the public work together.”
In August 1990, DNR acquired 20.3 miles of the abandoned Western Maryland Railroad from CSX Transportation. In 1991, DNR formed the Western Maryland Rail Trail Citizens Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from local, state and federal agencies as well as the private sector, to develop a WMRT master plan. The goal of the plan was to meet the diverse economic and recreational needs of Hancock and Washington County. There have been three phases to the construction of the trail which is managed by the staff at Fort Frederick State Park.
• Phase I – First 10 miles of trail runs from Big Pool to Hancock. Construction began in 1997 and was completed in 1998.
• Phase II – A 10.3-mile extension to the southern slope of Tonoloway Ridge in Polly Pond, Md., puts the town of Hancock at the geographic center of the trail. Construction began in 2001 and was completed in 2002.
• Phase III – An additional 2.1 miles extends the trail to Pearre railroad station. Construction began in 2003 and was completed this year.
Beginning about one-half mile west of historic Fort Frederick State Park in Washington County, the WMRT follows the former Western Maryland Railroad line through Hancock. The WMRT is perfect for hiking, biking, rollerblading or, weather permitting, cross-country skiing. It is also accessible to visitors with disabilities. The trail is especially suited to families, novice cyclists (it's almost completely flat), and for anyone seeking a pleasant, leisurely ride.
For more information on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, visit http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/wmrt.html or call (301) 842-2155.
May 19, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov