Grand History Trail


The Grand History Trail is a conceptual network of trails encompassing Baltimore, MD; Annapolis, MD; Washington, DC; Frederick, MD; Gettysburg, PA; and York, PA – a region rich in the stories and commemorative sites of our country’s history

The Grand History Trail will expand upon 100-miles of existing, disconnected trails, including such popular trails as Pennsylvania’s Heritage Rail Trail and Maryland’s North Central Railroad, Jones Falls, Gwynns Falls, Stoney Run and Patapsco Trails; and Washington DC’s Metropolitan Branch Trail, to create a 185-mile circular pathway for non-motorized travelers. The pathway will also offer connections to much larger trail networks, such as the East Coast Greenway, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, and the Great Allegheny Passage, offering opportunities for non-motorized, inter-modal travel along the entire east coast and westward across Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The Grand History Trail has enormous potential to connect densely populated, metropolitan areas to numerous existing heritage sites of national significance, such as the Gettysburg National Military Park, Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park, and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. The Grand History Trail will offer non-motorized travelers a unique way to visit this heart of America’s history, combining physical activity with learning and exploration.


Beginning early in 2005, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has hosted a series of meetings to introduce local, state, and federal agencies to The Grand History Trail concept and to begin formulating a vision for its development. A working group comprised of trail managers, advocates, and agency representatives is charting a course of action for this project.

RTC continues to work with the partners to focus on such areas as mapping, publicity, inventory of heritage resources, coordinating information sharing among trail representatives, facilitating trail planning efforts, channeling funding information, and development of interpretive themes.

An electronic contact list has been established to provide periodic updates to those individuals and agencies that may have a vested interest in the Grand History Trail project. If you would like to be added to this contact list or have additional questions, please contact:

Kelly Pack
Manager of Trail Development, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
E: kellyp"at"
P: 202.974.5148

The map displays routes in four different color-coded phases:
* DARK GREEN: Existing (completed off-road trail, may include a signed or striped on-street route as part of a trail system)
* LIGHT GREEN: Planned (planned off-road trail, may include a planned signed or striped on-street route as part of a trail system)
* PINK: Temporary (interim on- or off-road route until nearby planned trails are completed)
* RED: Gap (on-street route where there is no planned off-road trail)
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by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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Thanks for the email and your interest in the Grand History. We have had a couple other inquiries from other biking/trail blogger/forum posters... so I've copied them on this response (WashCycle [] & Baltimore Spokes)

I'm with you, I think the Grand History Trail is a great idea! The genesis of this project started when some trail advocates with the York Heritage Trail saw the potential for a connected network of trails along what is now being identified as the Grand History Trail route. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was also interested in determining a set route for the trail and contracted our office and the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program to explore the potential.

We've worked with dozens of state and local agencies and local trail advocates to determine a preferred route. At the end of the process (sometime early summer), we'll complete a report that will include an inventory of historic sites along the routes, recommendations for implementation (based on input from our partners), and a set of GIS data for city, county, and state agencies to use in their planning efforts.

What's missing is a group to continue the work beyond this planning phase of the project. Most of the gaps within the system are on local bike/ped or comprehensive master plans, but are only designated as potential on- or off-road bike facilities. Ideally, an existing trail group or a state agency would take this project on as a priority. During these last few months of work, we hope to equip all the partners with the resources needed to advocate for this trail system and include it in planning documents. Who knows, maybe a local cycling group would want to shepherd this through to completion. In the mean time, we're trying to let people know about the potential for an amazing regional trail system that is not only unique because of all the historically significant places it connects, but also for its ability to connected other existing and planned trail networks like the Great Allegheny Passage and the East Coast Greenway.

So, to answer your question, there is no set timeline for this project. We hope that our work will provide trail advocates and planning departments (sometimes one and the same!) the tools needed to encourage commitment from local leaders to place priority on the Grand History Trail.

Thanks you all for taking interest in this project and writing about it in your respective blogs/web sites.

All the best,


Kelly Pack
Manager of Trail Development

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
2121 Ward Place, NW 5th Floor
Washington , DC 20037-1213