Whether you live here in Baltimore or are just visiting, there’s a trail great for walking that you’re probably missing.
The Waterfront Promenade is a paved walkway that hugs nearly seven miles of the waterline of the Inner Harbor from Fort McHenry to the Canton Waterfront Park.
The Promenade began in the early 1970s as a 35-foot wide brick walkway at the current site of Harborplace, part of long-range plans to develop the Inner Harbor. Since then, the Promenade has been extended both east and west as the harbor has been developed.
A guide and map of the Promenade route is available in PDF format on the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore website, or you can refer to our exclusive Google Map below.
The seven-mile walkway is not fully contiguous; in particular, several sections on the west side of the harbor are disconnected. Also, the Promenade isn’t entirely paved with brick. Stretches on the east side consist of boardwalk. All sections of the promenade are easily accessible by foot or wheelchair, but no bicycles are allowed.
I decided to try walking the entire route except the Fort McHenry section (which I’d like to explore another time). I began my journey at Tide Point at Water Taxi Landing 10.
View Waterfront Promenade in a larger map
You can catch the regular Water Taxi there, but I opted for the Harbor Connector, a commuter service that gives free passage (on weekdays only) between Tide Point and the Canton Waterfront Park or Maritime Park. A very short ride took me from Tide Point to the Canton Waterfront Park. From there I began walking.
Once on the Promenade, it would seem easy to follow the route. But skirting around some sites can be a bit tricky, so be on the look out for the large green signs with the Waterfront Promenade logo. Part of the trickiness is that the color and size of the signs change in different neighborhoods. In Fells Point, for example, the signs are narrower and a difficult-to-spot dark purple.
The temptation to wander from the path is particularly great, especially because of the countless attractions nearby. The tall green signs are good landmarks for reorienting yourself back to the path if you have strayed.
The walk from Canton Waterfront Park takes you past several marinas as well as some waterfront eateries. If you get tired of gazing out at the glittering harbor, you might find it amusing to read the clever names painted on the boats moored at the marina slips.
Several plazas along the Promenade are paved with commemorative brick. According to the Waterfront Partnership website, no new brick orders are being taken.
At Captain James Landing restaurant you have to leave the brick pathway and walk across the asphalt parking lot behind the restaurant before joining up with the brick pathway again. Perhaps at one time this was clearly marked, but any such markings have faded away.
From here, you go from brick walkway to boardwalk and back to brick again, past Henderson’s Wharf, and before you know it you are in Fells Point. It took me about 40 minutes to get to Thames Street and Broadway.
Bond Street Wharf is just past the City Pier at Broadway, and there you will come to a chain link fence directly across the path. The fence blocks off just a small portion of the brick walkway. There are no signs indicating the reason.
A bit past Bond Street Wharf is Frederick Douglas-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. The day I was there, this area was a hubbub of activity: one boat had been hauled up on the marine railway for repairs, while several others nearby were receiving facelifts of fresh paint.
While I had intended to walk the entire promenade, I spent far too much time taking photos and just drinking in the atmosphere. It was time to head home. How convenient that I was at Maritime Park; I was able to board the next Water Taxi for the ride back to Tide Point.
To continue from Maritime Park towards Harborplace, you must walk away from the water and head north on Caroline Street (there were no signs to point me in the correct direction, but I know the area well). Turn left on Lancaster Street, and you will join up again with the Waterfront Promenade. Within minutes, you will pass Harbor East and, from there, you’ll soon be crossing a series of bridges over the piers near Harborplace. Continue walking past Harborplace, the Science Center, and Rash Field, and soon you’ll be walking alongside some of the recently erected million-dollar condos.
The Promenade comes to an end at Harbor Island Walk, then comes to life again for short stretches at the Baltimore Museum of Industry and Tide Point. You can continue on foot, but not along the water, from Tide Point to Fort McHenry, where again the Promenade comes to life along the shore.
It’s nice to know we have such an intriguing trail available to us in Baltimore. And it was invigorating to see all the development that’s taken place along the harbor. After walking the Promenade, I had the feeling I’d placed my finger on the pulse of the city.
Photos by Lenora Genovese