The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail plus the BWI Trail are two distinct trails that connect at the northwestern trailhead of the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail via the John Overstreet Connector. We found this to be a good place to start because it’s closest to one of our favorite breweries (scroll down if you’re curious!). So, back and forth to Annapolis is about 28 miles, then the loop around the Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshal airport is another 10.5 miles.
We headed southeast on the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, first alongside a runway (the parking lot is actually called the Thomas A. Dixon Observation Park) and then into the woods. For the next mile or so, we zigzagged through the forest until we came to a road sign that required us to stop and read it carefully. (This we learned the hard way, at first inadvertently ending up on the BWI trail.) After crossing a highway bridge, we were confidently back on track, riding for the next 13 miles through a variety of settings. In fat, at one point, the trail passed a large Planet Fitness where a bewildering number of members worked out in a windowless gym while we pedaled past on a gorgeous (and free) biking/running/rollerblading path.
There were many picturesque parts of the gently rolling trail: split-rail wooden fences along mowed grass aprons and large “mounds” of vine-covered trees. In many areas, the trail ran along the edges of well-kept neighborhoods where there were frequent, but not busy, intersections. Almost imperceptibly, the trail declined towards Annapolis – a fact we were only made aware of as we climbed back towards BWI.
Along the way, we passed through the town of Glen Burnie then came upon a NASA-sponsored “Planet Walk.” This consisted of only a few solar system sculptures and signs that named the planets, so not much to write home about.
At about the 10 mile mark, we saw many bikers and runners stopped at a popular trailside coffee shop, The Big Bean, in Severna Park. This is the most convenient place to fill up on water or snacks. Next to it was an enormous pile of discarded bikes behind Pedal Pushers bike store.
After a few more miles of the quiet, mostly shaded trail, we reached the Annapolis trailhead then turned around. Thirteen or so miles later, we arrived back at the Observation Park and forced ourselves to do the BWI loop. (This is not mandatory. We would have been perfectly content to finish here.) However, contrary to what Jim had expected, the BWI trail was NOT a tour of parking lots, airport hangars and shade-less runways. It was actually pretty in many spots and had an interesting array of vistas ranging from forests, to horse pastures, to overlooks of the airport, to neighborhoods, to highways. (OK, that last one wasn’t that interesting, but those stretches were perfectly fine, Jim.)
This is a very popular loop and one local biker told us that there were too many pedestrians to ride on the weekends.
After loading our bikes onto our car, it was a five-minute trip to the largest brewery we’ve encountered – the Guinness Open Gate Brewery. Having launched its first and only American brewery on the site of a former distillery in 2015, the legendary global brand brews and markets experimental blends not found anywhere else in the world. The brewery is situated on 62 acres of land four miles from BWI airport (and yes, we’ve stopped there once or twice after returning from a trip). While Guinness Blonde is the brewery’s chief product, it’s the experimental brews, which change frequently, that make it the most fun to visit. (Well, these and the two restaurants, large taproom bar, deck with live music, brewery tours, well-stocked gift store and massive outdoor beer garden.) This is just a guess, but we think the brewery can easily hold over 1,000 patrons at a time.
While we both love classic Guinness Draught (and drank it for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a trip to Ireland many years ago), on this occasion, Kellie sampled a Honey and Jalapeno Ale, which was pleasant but didn’t have much heat or honey; a Raspberry and Tangerine Ale, which was fruity but not a sour; and a Tea with Lemon Ale, which was better than it sounded, tasting exactly like an iced tea with a beer aftertaste.
Jim tried both of the IPAs – the Batch 62 and the Guinness IPA. He really liked the former, finding the latter to be indistinctive without the citrus, pine or sharp hoppy notes that he prefers. We picked up a four-pack of one of our previous favorites, the Imperial Ale aged in bourbon barrel casks, to take home.
Let us know what you think about these two trails and Guinness Open Gate or other area breweries in the Comments section below.