14 August, 2017

Overnight on the NCR with a Fuzzy Friend

by Igor

Last weekend, Adrian and I did an overnight on the Northern Central Railroad Trail, officially known as the Torrey C. Brown Trail, and Heritage Rail Trail. It's a terrific, off-road MUP that starts in Cockeysville, MD and ends in York, PA - the combination of two trails make up the length of the ride. With a distance of 40 miles each way, about 20 miles on each trail, and little elevation change, it's the perfect leisurely overnight tour for us and our fuzzy 5-year old, Stella.

Packing for an overnight with your dog is pretty much the same as packing without. Just add a few scoops of dog food for the time you will be out and make sure you have extra water if it's not abundantly available on the trail. Stella is a well seasoned outdoors dog, so she's happy with a stick and any patch of ground or spot on your sleeping pad - no need for any toys or bed.
The Maryland side of the trail, the NCR, is more like the C&O - bit rocky and uneven, turning into double track about 10 miles in. Stella was a trooper, standing in the trailer for the first 20 miles to make up for the uneven terrain.

The Heritage Trail on the PA side is super well taken care of. The terrain is mainly crushed, dusty stone with frequent train track crossings - very reminiscent of the Great Alleghany Passage. Small trail towns dot the route and are nice stops to pick up provisions and see some of the local landscape. These stops also lend themselves well for dogs to stretch their legs and get lots of pets from anyone walking by.
Chances are, your pup will be tired from all of the activities of the day and will rest easy. It's important to get your fuzzy companion acclimated to sleeping in a tent early-on, so they aren't startled by the random woodsy noises that go on during the night.
A bit of advice for first time fuzz-butt haulers, which I guess could apply to non-fuzz-butt hauling as well (kids):
  • Initial training is easier with two people on a secluded road. One is in front towing, the other is behind giving positive encouragement and treats.
  • Get low gearing. Dogs and trailers are heavy and hills are not forgiving.
  • Bring extra food and water for you and your pup.
  • Slowly increase the distance of your ride until your pup, (and you!), are comfortable with longer distances.
  • Scan for obstructions in the road earlier than normal.
  • Keep your speed in check going downhill.
Do you take your dog/cat/lizard/snake out with you during your rides?


Anonymous said...

I like to do this with my two year old son. Where did you camp?? I biked up once with my wife and we camped at a sketchy RV campground a little before York. Was curious if there is other options. Thanks

VeloOrange said...


We camped at Indian Rocks Campground, probably the same one you mentioned. Once you back behind the RV area, there are several nice tent camping spots away from the RVs. There are even two by the babbling brook behind the hedge line.


Andy said...

I use a "Walky Dog" to tether her to my bicycle so she can run along with me. She goes in the trailer once she's tired.

The worst doggie camping problem we've had, is if we let her go exploring around a wooded campsite, she will walk through poison ivy, which will then transfer to us. Not nice.

Anonymous said...

Yep... that is where we stayed too!! Camped by the creek. It was early spring was kinda chilly at night and in the morning so the RV part of the campground was a ghosttown. Thank you for responding didn't know if there was another option.

Anonymous said...

There is also a campground at the last road crossing before PA. Lineboro maybe. Its about 2 miles from the parking lot at the trail head and is VERY VERY up hill with no shoulder. It was called merry meadows its now called something else. Nice campground. We ride there the first day. Setup camp and then ride the PA side to York the next day. The ride to York is made much easier by not having so much stuff to carry. We return from York stay overnight then ride back to Hunt Valley. I have done this trip several times and used the light rail from Linthicum to get there.