Stunning scenery + rider-friendly roads + six mapped tours = cycling Nirvana!
Easton, MD – On the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, close to major cities yet a world apart, visitors will find a very special place … Talbot County, Maryland. Steeped in history, blessed with natural beauty year ‘round, and dedicated to cultivating both its cultural sophistication and its small-town pleasures, it offers something for everyone – including some of the best bicycle tours on the Eastern Seaboard for riders of all ages and experience levels.
The stunning scenery, level terrain, and charming destination towns that make for great riding have always been here, of course, and many cyclists have been returning to enjoy them for years. In 2009, however, after considerable planning and preparation, Talbot County unveiled a formal map of six themed bicycle trails covering 180 miles of terrain. Featuring farmland, big sky, water, and historical vistas, the routes are part of an ongoing County Office of Tourism initiative to bring health and wellness activities to visitors and residents alike.
Cycling devotees surely are “all in” on the initiative, but even the most dedicated of couch potatoes and the littlest two-wheeling tot couldn’t resist these rides: not only are there six tours to choose from, but the roads are designed with either dedicated bike lanes or shoulders wide enough to serve that function, and – can’t say this too often – the terrain is F-L-A-T.
The official Talbot County Bicycle Map – an impressive multi-page folded brochure – is an excellent source of information. It’s available for download on the Office of Tourism’s website, as well as in brochure hard copy on request. A few highlights to get the imagination rolling:
• School Days Trail – A 28.3 mile loop located northwest of Easton, this route features the Little Red Schoolhouse and a cemetery for black Civil War soldiers. A short side trip to the Pickering Creek Audubon Center offers first-rate bird watching in its 400 acres of forests and wetlands, which also shelter foxes, deer, and river otters.
• Joust Maryland Trail – A 26.7 mile meander located north of Easton, this trail highlights the state sport of Maryland. For the past 140 years, the Maryland Jousting Association has held its Annual Horse Show and Jousting Tournament at historic St. Joseph’s Church in August. Visitors at other times of the year will enjoy the historic Wye Landing steamboat dock, the Wye Grist Mill, and the Wye Oak State Park in Wye Mills.
• Talbot Farmland Trail – At 27.6 miles, this route allows riders to revel in the sights, sounds, and scents of the county’s gorgeous and productive farmland. Looping to the northeast of Easton, the trail offers not only scenic landscapes but also big sky vistas, two general stores, side trails to landings with views of the Choptank River, and some fine birding.
• Chesapeake Views Trail – With waterfront views of open Chesapeake Bay, this 38.2 mile ride can’t be beat for maritime majesty. As Harry Jaffe wrote in the July 2009 “Best of” issue of Washingtonian, “the payoff in water views is spectacular.” Along the way riders can also enjoy the small-town ambiance of McDaniel, Wittman, and Sherwood, waterside farm fields, and magical Tilghman, a former working waterman’s village and now a major port for recreational fishing and boating.
• Oxford/St. Michaels Trail – Recognized as one of the premier bike trails in the Mid-Atlantic region, this 29.6 mile tour includes the historic boat-building town of Oxford, the crossroads of Royal Oak, the fabulous shopping and dining on offer in charming St. Michaels, and the extra special treat of a ride across the Tred Avon River on the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.
• Cemetery Quest Trail – Running south of Easton, this 28.1 mile route features a number of historic cemeteries, some prominent and some tucked away for the adventurous to find; several famous sons of Talbot County are buried along the way. Birders should bring their binoculars, as two side trips feature former millpond sites and mature wetland forest that shelter a range of beloved songbirds and other popular avian denizens.
• For those who enjoy cross-country biking in addition to flat terrain touring, there’s also the recently opened Friends of the Nature Trail just outside the town of St. Michaels. Extending from the eastern town limits to Railroad Avenue, it’s beautifully laid out and makes for a great ride. In Easton, the Easton Rails-to-Trails path, running from Idlewild Park to North Easton Park, offers 2.2 miles of dedicated trail for walking and biking.
• A bonus insider’s tip from Talbot County Office of Tourism Director Debbi Dodson: peddle down Lover’s Lane in Oxford, between the Sandaway B&B and the Tred Avon Yacht Club, and discover a small, quiet beach ideal with a picture-postcard-perfect view of the Tred Avon River. Beachcombers may well find a few pieces of much-sought-after sea glass.
Visitors are welcome to bring their own rides, but several other options are available as well: not only do a number of inns offer complimentary use of their bikes to guests, but at least five shops cheerfully rent and/or service bicycles.
For additional information on biking the beckoning byways of Talbot County, please contact The Talbot County Office of Tourism.
Bountiful Talbot County: a beauteous bonanza for bikers of all stripes
About Talbot County, Maryland:
Talbot County, Maryland invites visitors to experience the perfect balance of rural simplicity and urban refinement. With the timeless beauty of the Chesapeake Bay as their backdrop, the county’s sophisticated small towns, charming country byways, and wide array of activities offer something for everyone who appreciates the opportunity to relax, reflect, and renew. The Talbot County Office of Tourism offers comprehensive information and trip planning services at its Easton, Maryland office (1- 410-770-8000) and on its website (www.tourtalbot.org).
Carlyle Fairfax Smith
Talbot County Cicycle Map (Press Release) - Aug 03, 2011 -