Just after Thanksgiving, when I needed to walk off some of that delicious holiday food, I realized I wasn’t sure where to go for this month’s installment of Get Out and Explore. I also realized that I didn’t want to go on a big trip somewhere; I was more interested in doing something close to home.
If you’ve never checked out the Easton Rails to Trails, there are multiple spots to check out and the original trail runs for 2.5 miles through Easton from North to South. The northern end starts at the A. James Clark Sports Complex, right where the bypass and Route 50 meet. The southern end starts in the middle of a neighborhood, on Wayside Avenue, with no public parking available. You can also park along the middle of the trail, along Pennsylvania Avenue or East Avenue, between Goldsborough Street and Dover Road. While the views aren’t spectacular, 2.5 miles of flat, paved trail through town is such a nice amenity.
Since the new Phillips Wharf is located in Easton Point Park, we are right next to a spur of the Easton Rails to Trails. I knew that the plan was to eventually connect this spur to the original trail and I’d heard that construction was under way. At this point, I decided that I needed to revisit the Rails to Trails to see if I could find the new connection and see how far along it was in the construction process.
Turns out, the connection is completed from the original trail to Moton Park.
I was honestly shocked. I had no idea that this section of trail was already completed. It might not technically be open quite yet, as there were still cones, silt fencing, and flags in many spots along the trail. However, people are already using it.
While walking on this trail, I couldn’t help but wonder – how many feet have walked on this asphalt before mine? While it’s probably a fairly small number, I did pass another walker on the path, so I was definitely not first.
If you want to start on this new section of trail, you can park at Moton Park, cross Port Street and hop on the new section of trail. You can also park behind the hospital and hop on the new connection in the middle and walk either down towards Moton Park or down towards the original trail. From behind the hospital, it’s about 0.5 miles to the original trail and not quite that far to Moton Park. If you choose to park behind the hospital, there is some 2 hour street parking on Earle and Wye Avenues and the path crosses over Wye Avenue around the intersection of these two streets.
However, because this section of trail was so new, there are no marked crosswalks where the trail crosses a street, which it does frequently. Hopefully, this will change soon, but it does mean you need to be alert and aware while walking on the new section of trail between the hospital and the original path.
There are lots of cones to mark these crossings, but most of the cars I saw didn’t seem aware of the trail or that there would be pedestrians using it.
The original Easton Rails to Trails is also full of little surprises, like the John F Ford Park. This park is towards the north end of the trail and can be reached from Laurel Street, Judas Street, and Plum Street but there is nothing but neighborhood street parking in these areas.
If you want to check out this hidden gem, which I highly recommend, there is a parking lot off Magnolia Street, next to the Talbot County Board of Education. If you park here, you can cross the original trail and head straight into this park, which contains some additional gravel trails, along with various exercise stations scattered along the path. There are also two rocker swings and a small public restroom.
Now, here’s the thing. Visiting the Easton Rails to Trails might not feel like a Get Out and Explore level adventure for someone living/working nearby. However, one of the things I love about trails like this is that they are convenient. Getting outside and exploring doesn’t have to require lots of travel or planning; it can be as simple as walking out your front door. There is also something to be said for having an outdoor space where you can watch nature change over time, even if that bit of nature is small or disturbed because it’s in the middle of town.
Here at Phillips Wharf, part of our mission is connecting people to the Chesapeake Bay. I personally believe that building this connection starts in our backyard, on neighborhood streets, and in public outdoor spaces.
The Rails to Trails program offers this sort of access to outdoor spaces and it’s exciting to see resources being put into expanding our local trails – and this new addition won’t be the last! The plan in Easton is to continue the current new trail so that it connects to Easton Point Park and Easton Village. In St. Michaels, there is interest in continuing the St. Michaels Nature Path to Perry Cabin Park on the north end of St. Michaels. There is also a group of folks who would like to get existing trails in the Oxford Conservation Park to connect to the Easton Rails to Trails path, meaning there would be a path that connects Oxford to Easton. Some of these projects are just beginning but it’s wonderful to see this kind of community support for public trails. If you want to see these projects succeed and continue to expand, be sure to go to your local Parks & Recreation meetings or email your elected officials to let them know you support these projects.
Now, here we are in December, so this is the final installation of this year’s theme; Get Out and Explore. The goal of this series has been to encourage you to get outside, to experience the diversity of landscapes that Maryland has to offer, and to get comfortable with going someplace new. I hope you’ve had the chance to visit some of the places I’ve written about or that they’ve sparked an interest in you to visit someday.
Finally, I’d love to hear from you; should we continue this series next year? Is there a different topic you think we should explore? Let us know in the comments!