How to start your walking tour of Baltimore

By RENEE SCAVONE | April 13, 2017

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COURTESY OF RENEE SCAVONE A railroad yard near Fort McHenry.

Perhaps the most important part of any city, for me, is its walkability. Growing up in a town with absolutely nothing to do, walking for the sake of walking was legitimately an activity, and some of my fondest memories are talks with friends on aimless walks.

Just because Baltimore is luckily more exciting than the suburbs doesn’t mean there are laws against walking for fun. Here are three of my favorite walks around campus and the city in general.

Hampden

Hampden seems straightforward, but that’s exactly why it’s underrated. There are a million different ways to walk to Hampden and enjoy the scenery. My favorite would have to be through the woods of Wyman Park.

Start by leaving campus through the lacrosse field, crossing the road and going into the forest through a break in the guard rail. It’s much less dicey than it sounds.

From there, you can go one of two ways: a gradual, meandering trip to the right and back or the most straightforward hike down, a path which at times presents nearly 90 degree drops.

If you’re going to walk like a connoisseur, you should go the long route. If you like having fun or pushing your friends toward the threat of death, the second path is definitely the way to go.

From then on, simply follow the trail through the woods of Wyman until you get to the edge of Hampden. From then on, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure through the streets of our neighboring neighborhood.

Overall walkability rating: 6.5/10. The trip is scenic and you don’t have to worry about traffic, but it’s not one you should make in inclement weather or low lighting, and its lack of sidewalks makes it less accessible to folks who are differently abled.

Druid Hill Park

The last time I made the trek to Druid Hill Park was during this semester’s snow day, and I can vouch that it was a pleasant walk despite the rough weather.

Start at the Wyman Park Building, aka the building on the south edge of campus that houses the MechE lab, the pre-CVS Rite Aid pharmacy and at least one very unlucky IFP class per semester.

From there on it’s pretty straight forward: Walk in the direction away from the BMA and turn right to stay on Wyman when you reach San Martin Drive. Stay on Wyman for basically the remainder of the trip.

This walk will take you through Wyman Park, and then out and over the Jones Falls river and above the train tracks — truly, one of the best views of Baltimore in its contrast between industry and nature.

The it’s just a matter of crossing above the Jones Falls Expressway to get into Druid Hill.

Overall walkability rating: 8/10. Although it’s a bit longer of a trek, the paved paths are more accessible, but crossing over the highway can be freaky.

Fort McHenry

This one is a little bit of a cheater, in that you can (and probably will) take a bus at some point. The last time I went, I took the Charm City Circulator Purple Route to the Fort Avenue stop. From there, the walk to the park is down that street through Pigtown.

The walk passes by a Little League field, a train yard and more than a few great brunch spots. It’s also highly popular with runners, bikers and dog walkers, a factor indicative of the neighborhood’s safety.

On the way back, I headed down Key Highway in hope of seeing the water at sunset.

While my hopes were mostly dashed by tall buildings, every so often I could peek out into the harbor.

Overall walkability rating: 7/10. Taking the bus to walk feels a bit counter-intuitive, but not taking the bus means committing to a 14-mile round trip. That being said, it’s definitely nice, with a ton of cool views. With the many restaurants en route, it’s a great potential date.

From the MTA to the Charm City Circulator, there are plenty of bus routes in Baltimore. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a stroll every now and then. A good walk can lead to good conversation and provide a new perspective of the city you live in.

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