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Exploring the Old West in Northern Maryland

Your family can experience the life of a cowboy at several farms in Baltimore County, Maryland.

If you long to express your inner cowpoke, but can’t escape for an extended vacation, you’ll be happy to know that a taste of the Old West lies in Baltimore County, Maryland. In the neighboring small towns of Monkton, Parkton and Freeland, just a short drive up Interstate 83, you and your family can experience a wrangler’s life without ever leaving the state of Maryland. Grab your cowboy boots and kids and dust off your dungarees, pardners, because you’re in for a wild ride.

Start your day off with a guided trail ride at Timberbrook Farm in Freeland, which has over 80 square miles of scenic wooded trails. Although it’s not exactly the rugged terrain you might navigate if you were a real cattle rancher, as you slouch atop your trusty steed in a Western saddle, you and your kids (children should be 11 and up, but all riding levels are welcome) will safely enjoy a relaxing ride led by expert guides.  Best of all, if during your excursion your children discover their passion for riding, you can sign up for private English or Western lessons, held in Timberbrook Farm’s state-of-the-art facilities. One hour trail rides start at $40 per person and should be scheduled in advance.

After working up a Texas-sized hunger from all of that riding, mosey on over to the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in nearby Parkton, a tiny eatery in a converted house that is famous with locals for their hearty, country-style menu.  Even picky eaters will happily munch away on their old-fashioned offerings that include hand-formed burgers, tasty sandwiches, and thick sliced onion rings.  And since a real cowboy never forgets to order dessert, make sure to save room for a slice of any one of their outstanding homemade pies.

Once you have eaten your fill at the Wagon Wheel, make a stop at the Gunpowder Bison and Trading Company.  Also known as buffalo, bison are the largest living animal native to North America.  Once hunted almost to the point of extinction, the bison has made a comeback, thanks to the decades of preservation efforts made by wildlife experts and ranchers alike.  Today, bison are raised for their meat on large ranches like the 70-acre Gunpowder Bison Ranch in Monkton.  There, not only can you see real bison as they graze in the ranch’s bucolic pastures, you can purchase bison-related products from their Trading Company store on the premises.  Visitors are discouraged from getting up close and personal with the majestic animals, but your children will be happy to know that they can take home a pint-sized stuffed toy bison as a souvenir of the family adventure; adults can buy an assortment of fresh bison meat, which is similar in flavor to beef, but significantly lower in saturated fat.

When your family is ready to saddle up and head home, make sure to take in all of the beautiful countryside that Northern Baltimore County has to offer. You may be surprised at the rural tranquility that lies just up the interstate and will probably want to return to explore Maryland’ s own version of the “Old West” sooner than you think.


Timberbrook Farm
21000 Slab Bridge Rd.
Freeland, MD 21053

The Wagon Wheel
17114 York Rd.
Parkton, MD 21120

Gunpowder Bison and Trading Company
1270 Monkton Rd.
Monkton, MD 21111    

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