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How a stretch of closed roadway can draw a crowd

Every weekend thousands of Baltimore City and County residents converge on Loch Raven Drive between Providence Road and Morgan Mill Road. That few miles of pavement attracts such a large crowd every Saturday and Sunday because the county closes it to all vehicular traffic between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

John Argento is a Baltimore resident and longtime biker. “Baltimore is behind most 21st century cities in its awareness of bikers. I come up here from the city because there just aren’t many places to ride down there.”

There are numerous mountain bike trails throughout the reservoir as well. The trails can be found near Jarrettsville Pike and Merrymans Mill Road by Gunpowder Falls as well as along the closed stretch of Loch Raven Drive. The county has maps posted throughout the area that clearly label the trails.

“I’ve been mountain biking for a few years and trails around the reservoir are my favorite in the area because they range from fairly smooth and easy to rough and difficult,” said Mark Bienvenu of Hunt Valley.

The area offers a lot more than just mountain biking. Runners flock to the area as well and can be seen in large packs around the reservoir every weekend.

The Baltimore Road Runners Clubis a local group that frequents the reservoir area for both training and competitive races.

According to Tom Nasuta, the president of the club, “Loch Raven has been one of our favorite places to run for many of our club members over the years. We’ve held weekly long runs for runners preparing for fall marathons on Saturday mornings there.”

The club has also conducted races on Loch Raven Drive and some trail races on the trails of Cromwell Park and Loch Raven. However, the Loch Raven Reservoir Dam construction limited the use of the trail for three years, but now that the construction has recently been completed the group hopes to resume running there again.

The trails through the woods not only provide cross country runners and mountain bikers a place to recreate, but hikers as well. Many of the trails throughout the woods lead to fishing spots along the waterside or to cliffs that provide excellent views out over the reservoir.

Almost as ubiquitous as the runners at Loch Raven are the familes with young children. SUVs can been seen parked in a long line starting from the orange metal gate at Morgan Mill Road that prevents vehicular traffic from entering the road. It is a common sight to see mothers and fathers unloading small bikes complete with training wheels and baskets in the front.

Robert Breer drove to Loch Raven Drive with is wife, his 5-year-old son, Michael and his infant daughter. Michael rode 10 feet ahead on his bike while Breer pushed his daughter along in a stroller.

“We come here because we feel safe letting Michael ride his bike here. We live on a busy street, so this is just a safer option,” said Breer.

Feeding the ducks and fishing off of the bridge are other big family activities.

Loch Raven Drive offers a wealth of activities for people looking to get away from the busy streets of Baltimore. Even rollerbladers come out to use the closed roadway.

Said Mitch Greenberg, a rollerblader, “You don’t see many of us around anymore, but there always seems to be bladers here on the weekends.”

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