Gwynns Falls Leakin Park’s unpaved woodland hiking trails, identified by attractive rustic signs, are .25 to 1.5 miles in length, easy to moderate in difficulty, and sometimes a bit steep. Linking them together creates pleasant circuitous 5-6 mile treks as desired. A good place to start is the network of ten Dead Run trails you can explore from two parking lots on opposite sides of GFLP. The Winans Meadow lot is at 4500 N. Franklintown Road, unlocked daily between dawn and dusk. The Crimea area (incuding Orianda Mansion and other historic buildings and the Outward Bound Campus) is reached by parking in the lot at 1900 Eagle Drive, off 4921Windsor Mill Road. Either address will get you there, but it helps to remember that the parking lot is right at the corner of Eagle Drive and Windsor Mill Road, not farther along as some digital maps indicate.
A signature GFLP hike is the Ridge Trail, the high spine of pathways offering lovely views of Dead Run. From Eagle Drive’s parking lot, the Ridge Trail is first the Normal Reeves Trail, then Heide’s Trail; it passes the Magnolia Grove (a breathtaking allé in April), then plunges into old-growth canopy of oaks, tulip poplars and beech trees; it offers a rest stop at the charming hermit’s hut next to timbered stairs leading up to Carrie Murray Nature Center; eventually you’ll choose among the trails descending into the valley and then be strolling along Dead Run. There are lots more routes to explore and some, like Old Fort Trail, lead to historic structures. When you find yourself on paved pathways, you are traveling on portions of the Gwynns Falls Trail. (This remarkable trail starts at the terminus of I-70 and runs southeast along the stream through many city neighborhoods, all the way into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.)
There is a third, small parking lot at the trailhead located at 4300 Windsor Mill Road, from which you can access routes that run along Gwynns Falls. The Gwynns Falls Trail Millrace is a handsome walk, the only unpaved portion of the Gwynns Falls Trail. Paired with the Jastrow Levin Trail, you can fashion a fine circuit hike. Across busy Windsor Mill Road, east of the Gwynns Falls bridge, is the Windsor Hills Conservation Trail, a stunner in the spring. West of the bridge, running both north and south along Gwynns Falls, is the old Wetheredsville Road (from Dickeyville to Windsor Mill Road to Franklintown Road) repurposed as a paved portion of the Gwynns Falls Trail and closed to vehicular traffic. On this west side of the stream you can also find several hikes leading away from Gwynns Falls toward its tributary Dead Run. Not to be missed are Old Spring Trail and the Wetlands/Boardwalk Trail.
GFLP maps can be hard to come by. Do your homework: print your own from the image at the top of the page. Or if you are good at navigating All Trails, you’re good to go. First time out, you’ll be delighted -- and doubtless a bit confused. But you’ll be back for more; you wouldn’t want this exceptional urban wilderness park to be any other way.