The first thing you may notice about the Trolly Line #9 Trail is the boardwalk that curves between the bluffs of massive rock. The granite was hand cut in the 1890s when the electric streetcar rails were built from Ellicott City to Catonsville. Today these 100-foot-high walls create a striking gateway to the trail from historic Ellicott City just across the Patapsco River from Oella.
The boardwalk quickly gives way to pavement as the trail winds uphill through the woods. On your left, a babbling stream feeding into the Patapsco River provides a peaceful soundtrack to your journey. Tall shade trees keep the trail—and you—cool while you climb through the woodlands and occasionally pass homes that border the trail. Near the 1-mile mark, a short detour off the trail will take you to Banneker Historical Park & Museum, which has nature trails, archaeological sites and living history areas re-creating the Colonial farm life of Benjamin Banneker, an African-American astronomer and farmer.
Back on the trail, the rustic scenery gives way to a more suburban landscape. The few road crossings are well marked and the gradual slope makes for a pleasant trip both up and downhill. When you reach the end of the trail, simply turn around and head back downhill to enjoy Ellicott City, including the Baltimore & Ohio Train Museum, which highlights the history of the nation’s first railroad.
Parking and Trail Access
To get to Oella from downtown Ellicott City, take State Route 144/Main Street east to the Patapsco River, where the street becomes Frederick Road. Cross the river and take an immediate left (north) onto Oella Road, where you will find trail parking on your right (the river is on your left). You must climb stairs to get to the trail from here.
For accessible parking, follow SR 144/Frederick Road east past the Patapsco River and turn north (left) onto Westchester Avenue. A small parking lot will be on your left, just before a switchback in the road.
The #9 trolley line arrived in Ellicott City in 1899 and served the community for the next 55 years. This route was known for its scenic woodland views as the line dropped into the Patapsco River Valley.
In 1991, a century after it was constructed, Boy Scout Troop 456, organized the effort to clear and pave the #9 Trolley Line for a bike/hike trail as part of a very successful Eagle Scout project.
Today, the path is paved and features a section of boardwalk next to walls of rock that were hand-cut by the original builders.
Highlights Of The Trail
- Boardwalk – The trail features a boardwalk that curves between the canyons of granite that was hand-cut in the 1890s when the electric streetcar rails were built from Ellicott City to Catonsville. These 100-foot walls are a striking gateway to the trail from historic Ellicott City just across the Patapsco River from Oella.
- A stream feeding into the Patapsco River follows along a portion of the trail providing a peaceful soundtrack to your journey.
- Wildlife A variety of wild life can be encountered on the path from a rare black squirrel to owls soaring silently overhead.
- Benches dot the trail and offer a great opportunity to rest and enjoy the scenery.
- Near the 1-mile mark, a short detour off the trail will take you to Banneker Historical Park & Museum, which has nature trails, archaeological sites, and living history areas re-creating the colonial farm and life of Benjamin Banneker, an African-American astronomer and farmer.
- The Baltimore & Ohio Train Museum – Ellicott City Station highlights the rich history of the nation’s first railroad.
- Along Oella Ave is The Breadery where you can get water and snacks, and Trueth’s, a butcher shop with freshly cut meats. The Trolley Stop Restaurant and Old Mill Cafe are located at the Ellicott City end of the trail.