A trail connecting northern Frederick with Walkersville and Woodsboro will be Frederick County’s next trail project, followed by trails that will ultimately connect the C&O Canal towpath with the center of the county, and the town of Thurmont to the Catoctin Furnace area in Cunningham Falls State Park.
For years, the county has focused on finishing the Ballenger Creek Trail, which cuts through the neighborhood south of Frederick from near Ballenger Creek Elementary School to New Design Road.
But with that project nearing completion, the county will look to three other trails, although the three have varying timetables for completion.
The county’s first priority as determined by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will be the Frederick and Pennsylvania Railroad Trail, which would stretch from the end of a trail in the city of Frederick along East Street to north of Monocacy Boulevard, then head out to Walkersville before ending in Woodsboro.
The 10-mile stretch would follow the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks out to Woodsboro. It would be built on an old rail bed until it reaches Md. 26, at which point it would run along the existing tracks to Woodsboro.
The county is in the process of seeking money from the Maryland Department of Transportation to fund the design and construction of the trail, said Ron Burns, transportation engineering manager for the county’s Division of Planning and Permitting.
On Wednesday, the county received an $80,000 grant from the Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, for the first phase of its second trail priority, a path that will ultimately stretch 8 miles from the C&O Canal towpath along New Design Road to English Muffin Way outside of Frederick.
The trail will be built in three phases, Burns said: from English Muffin Way south to Mountville Road; from Mountville to south of Adamstown, and from south of Adamstown to the canal towpath.
“The real need is south of English Muffin [Way] right now, Burns said.
The grant will fund 30 percent of the planning and design for the first phase.
By connecting to the towpath, the trail will ultimately connect to the Great American Rail Trail, a cross-country network of paths stretching across 12 states from Washington, D.C., to the state of Washington.
The project “checks off a lot of boxes” in what the county should look for in projects, said Shayne Boucher, a member of the county’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee.
The committee was formed last year to help implement the county’s Bikeways & Trails Plan, passed by the County Council to help promote biking and walking in the county.
The third trail is the H&F Trolley Trail, stretching from Thurmont to Catoctin Furnace.
That project is the third priority because of issues with some property owners in getting access to the trail, Burns said.
Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird also serves on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and said the key factor in the committee’s decision was which projects offered a chance to get done more quickly and could tie in to existing segments.
While the Thurmont trail is important to the town, Kinnaird said he was happy with the committee’s choices.
“They didn’t take the one that I wanted, but I like what they did,” he said.
The trail to Walkersville will offer an incentive to tie into the city of Frederick’s trail, while the canal towpath is well used, and the new trail will help get people between the towpath and Frederick, Kinnaird said.
As for when work will start on the various projects, Burns said much of that will depend on when funding from various sources becomes available.
“We’re just going to take it year by year,” he said.