WASHINGTON – A 42-mile trail linking Annapolis to Baltimore-Washington International Airport was named a national Millennium Legacy Trail on Thursday, a designation that should bring increased recognition and some federal funding for the trail.
The Maryland trail — which is actually a combination of the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, the BWI Trail and the Colonial Annapolis Maritime Trail — was one of 50 pathways named Thursday by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“I think it’s terrific for the state and this trail system in particular,” said Charlie Adams, director of environmental design for the State Highway Administration. “It highlights how important trails have become to outside recreation.”
Each state was asked to nominate a trail under the $5 million Department of Transportation program, which is designed to promote trail use. Trails selected for the program, those that “reflect the unique spirits of our states,” will get wooden markers designating them as Millennium Legacy Trails and a listing in a national trails database.
Trails were named in 47 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. New York, Texas and Mississippi did not nominate trails.
The choice was easy in Maryland, said Adams, who chaired the committee that recommended trails for the governor to nominate. Adams said only one local trail group, Friends of the B&A Trail, forwarded an application.
“There were actually several other trails mentioned,” Adams said. “But no other trail groups got us any information.”
But Steve Carr, parks and pathways coordinator for the city of Annapolis, praised the selection. He said the trail represents both Maryland’s history and its future.
“It’s the city that’s the legacy,” he said. “This route would allow you to get to all of the historical areas in Annapolis.”
The selection of the legacy trails is the second phase of the Millennium Trails program, which Carr believes could eventually bring millions of dollars in tourism revenue to the state. The first phase of the program identified 16 national millennium trails, including two that meet in Maryland: the east-west American Discovery Trail and the East Coast Greenway, which runs north-south.
“With the designation of the American Discovery Trail and the East Coast Greenway as millennium trails and now the designation of the Colonial Annapolis Maritime Trail . we expect Annapolis to become a bicycling mecca,” Carr said.
While he said the B&A Trail was “the prettiest and safest” portion of the system, Carr said the Colonial Annapolis Maritime Trail had the best chance of attracting tourists because of its direct connection with some of the city’s most historic sites.
For Darren Smith, the trail is less a history lesson than a lesson in fun.
“The trail’s just great,” said Smith, who works at the Bike Peddlers store in Glen Burnie and has been riding the B&A Trail for about seven years. “It’s one of the best I’ve been on.”
State officials said the B&A Trail is the most-used park in Maryland. Smith estimates that the trail’s use is increasing every year. He was unaware of Thursday’s designation, but said he thought any recognition was well deserved.
The final step of the Millennium Trails program is the designation by local governments of 2,000 community trails in June. “It is our vision that there will be a trail within reach of every home,” Clinton said.