Gunpowder Falls State Park: Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail
Named for the third Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Torrey C. Brown (TCB) Rail Trail follows 21 miles of the former the Northern Central Railway (NCR) in northern Baltimore County.
The Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail is open sunrise to sunset.
Using the TCB Rail Trail
The Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail extends from Ashland, Maryland north to the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, and passes through historic communities including Ashland, Phoenix, Monkton, White Hall, Bentley Springs and Freeland. Hikers, joggers, bicyclists, horseback riders and pets on leashes are welcome. The TCB Rail Trail users are welcome to continue their journey north into Pennsylvania by traveling on the York County Heritage Trail. Visitors wishing to leave a vehicle in the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail parking areas overnight, to travel out of state, should contact the park a minimum of two weeks in advance to obtain approval.
Points of interest include:
- The restored 1898 Monkton Train Station, which serves as a museum, gift shop and Ranger Station. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the Northern Central Railway. The Monkton Station is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and weekends in the spring and fall.
- The Sparks Bank Nature Center, which features interpretive displays and family activities, is located in Sparks. It’s open on summer weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is available to school groups upon request. ATTENTION: Due to flood damage from Tropical Storm Lee, the Sparks Bank Nature Center is closed until further notice.
While visiting the TCB Trail, please note the following regulations:
- Follow the rules of the road. Bikers yield to pedestrians and horseback riders. All users should stay on the right of the trail, and avoid traveling side-by-side.
- To protect the safety of your pet, other visitors and park wildlife, all pets must be on a leash.
- To help determine where you are on the trail, look for the trail mile markers painted in the colors of the state flag. The markers number the Maryland trail miles from 1 through 19 as you travel north along the trail.
- Children under 16 are required to wear a helmet when riding a bike. Helmet use is strongly recommended for all bikers.
- Maryland State Parks are trash free. Pack out what you pack in. Support our community and the environment by reducing waste and recycling.
- Visitors are encouraged to bring a map. Maps can be purchased on the DNR online store, at Monkton Station, or at Gunpowder Falls State Park Headquarters.
- The trail has become popular with a wide variety of users. Please be respectful to others and take your trash with you.
- Alcohol is not permitted.
- Hiking the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail (7.5 to 40 mi.)
- Cross country skiing at Gunpowder Falls State Park (7.5 to 40 mi.)
Pets on leashes are welcome.
The Torrey C. Brown Trail is ADA accessible. For additional accessible amenities in Maryland State Parks, visit the Accessibility For All section of this website.
Rail Trail History
Organized in 1828 as the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad, the Northern Central Railway (NCR) operated what is now the TCB Rail Trail until it was damaged by Tropical Storm Agnes damaged in 1972. At its peak, the NCR’s mainline extended from Canton in Baltimore to Sodus Point in Upstate New York. The NCR railroad provided passenger and freight service to the online communities, connecting them with the cities of Baltimore, York and Harrisburg, and beyond. The railroad included 22 stops in Maryland. As part of the massive Pennsylvania Railroad system, the NCR shipped freight and passengers between New York City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
Recognizing the abandoned rail line’s potential as a recreational trail, Maryland DNR purchased the abandoned line between Cockeysville and the Pennsylvania Line in early 1980s. Thanks to volunteers and a great believer and advocate for the trail, Dr. Torrey C. Brown, the first section of the Northern Central Railroad Trail opened to the public in 1984. The TCB is one of the oldest rail trails in the United States, and it has developed into a popular recreational destination. In honor of Dr. Brown's overwhelming support for the trail, it was renamed the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail in 2007.
Historic Railroad Signs and Markers
Evidence of the TCB’s railroad heritage is still visible today.
Whistle Posts: These white posts with the large black "W's" were installed to instruct train engineers to repeatedly sound a whistle (on steam locomotives) or air horn (on diesel-electric locomotives) as they approached a road crossing. The whistle pattern was typically two long notes, followed by a short and another long.
Mileage Markers: These white posts with black numbers painted on each side facing the trail were used to tell the engineer or other railroad workers where they were on the railroad. Facing the marker the mileage on the right side indicates the distance to Sunbury, Pennsylvania and the left side the distance to the former site of the railroad’s Calvert Street Station in Baltimore.
Position Light Signals: Unique to the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Norfolk & Western Railway, these 16 foot poles topped with large disks once directed railroad traffic. Similar to modern traffic lights, these signals were controlled electronically from towers and stations. The signals notified engineers of recommended speeds, or instructed them stop. Reproduction signals have been installed in several locations.
Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail...
- Central Area
- Dundee Creek Marina
- Hammerman Area (beach)
- Hereford Area
- Jerusalem Mill
- The Mill Pond Cottage
- Sweet Air Area
- Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail
Central Area (Belair Road) – From the Baltimore Beltway (I-695), take U. S. 1 (Belair Road) north seven miles until you cross over the Big Gunpowder Falls. The parking lot will be on your right immediately following the bridge across the falls.
Dundee Creek Marina - From I-95 take exit 67A for Route 43 east (White Marsh Boulevard). Follow 43 to Route 40 east. Turn right at the first light onto Ebenezer Road and follow it for 4.5 miles. Go past the Hammerman entrance, and enter the marina on the right. The physical address is 7400 Graces Quarters, Chase, MD 21027. To visit the fishing area, continue straight and veer to the right and follow the road until it deadends.
Hammerman Area (beach) - From I-95 take exit 67A for Route 43 east (White Marsh Boulevard). Follow 43 to Route 40 east. Turn right at the first light onto Ebenezer Road and follow it for 4.5 miles. The park entrance will be on your left. The physical address is 7200 Graces Quarters, Chase, MD 21027
Hereford Area - From I-83 N, take exit 27 and turn right on Mt. Carmel Road. At traffic light, turn left onto York Road. Pass Hereford High School and turn left onto Bunker Hill Road. Continue on Bunker Hill Road to parking lot, located above the river.
Jerusalem Mill (Park Headquarters) - From I-95 take exit 74 for Route 152 West (Mountain Road). Follow Mountain Road toward Fallston and turn left onto Jerusalem Road. Jerusalem Mill will be on your left after 1.1 miles. Parking is in the lot on the right, just before the mill. The physical address is 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville, MD 21087.
Monkton Station - From I-83 N, take exit 27 and turn right on Mt. Carmel Road. Turn right on York Road and make a quick left onto Monkton Road. Follow it until it crosses the Torrey C. Brown (formerly NCR) Rail Trail. Monkton Station will be on your left. Limited parking. The physical address is 1820 Monkton Road, Monkton, MD 21111
Sweet Air Area – Take I-95 north. Take exit 74 onto Route 152 toward Fallston. Follow it for 10 miles. Turn left onto Route 165 south. Take first right onto Greene Road, right onto Moores Road and left onto Dalton Bevard Road. The parking lot is at the top of the hill. The physical address is 2840 Dalton Bevard Road, Baldwin, MD 21013.
Sparks Bank Nature Center - From I-83N take exit 24 (Belfast Road). Turn right onto Belfast Road. Turn right onto York Road (Route 45). Take your second left onto Sparks Road. Follow it until it crosses the Torrey C. Brown (formerly NCR) Rail Trail. Sparks Bank Nature Center will be on your right. Limited parking. The physical address is 1207 Sparks Road, Sparks, MD 21152.
Gunpowder Falls State Park
PO Box 480
2813 Jerusalem Road
Kingsville, MD 21087
Phone: (410) 592-2897
Hours of Operation
Sunrise to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
Contact the Park Service
- Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
- Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
- Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
- Email Us