Free New Years Day Hikes at Maryland State Parks

Hiking Friends

Hiking with friends is becoming a New Year’s Day tradition (Photo credit: Jeff Hester).

On January 1, Maryland State Parks and Natural Areas will be offering free guided hikes at a number of locations around the state. The First Day Hikes from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are listed below in order of those closest to South County. I used Harwood as a starting point, so Cedarville State Forest is a 30-minute drive, while Herrington Manor is about four hours away. Some require registration, so be sure to call today to reserve a spot.

All of the information on this page was culled from the DNR site.

Cedarville State Forest
“A Holiday Hike in the Forest”

Brandywine, Maryland
Time of Event:
Noon
Distance from Harwood: 21 miles/30 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Cedarville Headquarters Office parking lot
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for all ages
Length of Trail: 3 miles
Minimum age for kids: Age 5
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Cedarville State Forest at 301-888-1410
Additional Information: Dogs on a leash are welcome. This hike on the Orange Trail will last approximately 1.5 hours and will be lead by the Friends of Cedarville State Forest.

Patapsco Valley State Park: Hike Option 1
“Hiking the Cascade Falls Trail”

Ellicott City, Maryland
Time of Event:
10 a.m.
Distance from Harwood: 39 miles/46 minutes
Meeting Location:
Cascade Falls Trail (Orange Grove Area)
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate hike for families.
Minimum age for kids: Age 8
Length of Trail: Approximately 2 miles
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Reservations required. Please call Patapsco Valley State Park at 410-461-5005.
Additional Information: New to hiking? Bring the family out and join park staff for a guided hike past some of the prettiest terrain in Patapsco Valley State Park.

Patapsco Valley State Park: Hike Option Two
“Photography In The Park”

Ellicott City, Maryland
Time of Event:
1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 39 miles/46 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Hilltop parking lot
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate hike for families.
Minimum age for kids: Age 12
Length of Trail: Approximately 3 miles
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking. Participants should bring their own camera and optional tripod.
RSVP: Reservations required. Please call Patapsco Valley State Park at 410-461-5005.
Additional Information: This hike will help the amateur photographer capture photos using effects like the professionals. Participants will explore the trails along the Buzzards Rock trail above the Patapsco River. This hike involves hills and steep terrain. Hikers need proper boots/shoes to travel rocky trails and may get wet in streams.

Patapsco Valley State Park: Hike Option 3
“Hidden In Plain Sight: Telling Patapsco’s Story Through Historical Artifacts”

Ellicott City, Maryland
Time of Event:
1:30 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 39 miles/46 minutes
Meeting Location: Daniels Area Canoe Landing
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate hike for families.
Minimum age for kids: All ages welcome
Length of Trail: Approximately 3 miles
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Reservations required. Please call Patapsco Valley State Park at 410-461-5005.
Additional Information: Join a Volunteer Ranger as he uncovers interesting stories of the life and commerce in the Patapsco River Valley. Artifacts hidden in plain sight will stimulate your imagination and enable you to see history in a new way. This easy walk is on level ground.

Tuckahoe State Park
“Holiday Wake Up With Morning Sunshine”

Queen Anne, Maryland (Eastern Shore)
Time of event: 11 a.m.
Distance from Harwood: 45 miles/56 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Lake Pavilion
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for all ages
Length of Trail: 2 miles
Things to bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Tuckahoe State Park at 410-820-1668
Additional Information: Hike will begin along the lake’s edge with great views of wildlife (maybe a bald eagle or two!) before heading into the woods with views of flooded woodlands and mature forests. Topics will include changing forests and wildlife habitats. The hike will last approximately 1.5 hours.

Soldiers Delight NEA
“First Day Hike”

Owings Mills, Maryland
Time of Event:
1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 47 miles/52 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Soldiers Delight Visitors Center
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages.
Minimum age for kids: Age 8
Length of Trail: 2.5 miles
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera and binoculars (optional).
RSVP: Call Soldiers Delight NEA at 410-461-5005
Additional Information: Learn about the history and ecology of the serpentine barrens, and learn how to identify the plant and animal life at Soldiers Delight.

Seneca Creek State Park
“The Road Less Traveled”

Gaithersburg, Maryland
Time of Event: 1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 48 miles/57 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Kingfisher Overlook
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families and individuals of all ages. The hike will cover some uneven terrain.
Minimum age for kids: Age 5
Length of Trail: 2.1 miles
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear layered clothing and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and to bring water for drinking. A camera and binoculars are optional.
RSVP: Call Seneca Creek State Park at 301-924-2127
Additional Information: Start off the New Year with a step toward good health or by reconnecting with nature as we journey through several small ecosystems of Long Draught and Mink Hollow. Younger children in backpacks are welcome. Leashed pets are also welcome.

Gunpowder Falls State Park
“A Big Gunpowder Start to 2013″

Kingsville, Maryland
Time of Event:
10 a.m.
Distance from Harwood: 51 miles/1 hour
Meeting Location:
Meet at the trail head on the Big Gunpowder River and the parking area on the downstream side of Rt 1. (Near Perry Hall)
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages.
Length of Trail: Approximately 2 miles round trip. Hike will cover some wet or uneven terrain.
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional). Sturdy footwear is recommended.
RSVP: Reservations required. Call Gunpowder Falls State Park at 410-592-2897 to let us know you are going to join us!
Additional Information: Take a hike with two experienced Rangers on the scenic Big Gunpowder River and explore one of Gunpowder Falls State Parks most popular trails. Hike may include a visit to sawmill ruins or the striking “Pot Rocks” geological formation. Dogs on a leash are welcome.

Rocks State Park
“Explore Kilgore Falls at the Falling Branch Area”

Jarretsville, Maryland
Time of Event:
1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 62 miles/1 hour 20 mines
Meeting Location: Meet at the Falling Branch Parking Lot that is 5 miles north of the Rocks State Park office. Take Route 24 north through Rocks State Park, turn left on St. Mary’s Road, and then turn right on Falling Branch Road. The parking lot is on the right.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages.
Length of Trail: 1 mile round trip
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear closed toe shoes and dress appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Rocks State Park at 410-557-7994
Additional Information: Dogs on a leash are welcome. Set to reconnect with the natural world as we journey to and from Kilgore Falls, the second highest vertical waterfall in Maryland. Along the way participants will also observe and identify wildlife and/or regional foliage.

Elk Neck State Park
“Hike to the Turkey Point Lighthouse”

North East, Maryland
Time of Event:
10 a.m.
Distance from Harwood: 80 miles/1 hour 24 minutes
Meeting Location:
Meet at Turkey Point Lighthouse Trail parking lot located in Elk Neck State Park south of the Chesapeake Isle community on Rt. 272.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages. The trail is a gravel road on hilly terrain.
Minimum age for kids: Age 5
Length of Trail: 2 miles round trip.
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Elk Neck State Park at 410-287-5333 to let us know you are going to join us!
Additional Information: Join the park naturalist on a gentle approximately two mile round-trip trek up to the famous Turkey Point Lighthouse, learning interesting facts about its history along the way.

Greenbrier State Park
“Winter Wonderland Hike”

Boonsboro, Maryland
Time of Event: 1 p.m. Hike around the lake will last approximately 1.5 hours
Distance from Harwood: 84 miles/1 hour 38 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Greenbrier Visitor Center
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for all ages
Length of Trail: 1.5 miles
Things to bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Greenbrier State Park at 301-791-4767
Additional Information: Join Park Rangers on New Year’s Day at Greenbrier State Park for a “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” hike around the lake. Learn about wildlife, including bald eagles, white-tailed deer, squirrels, chipmunks and red-tailed hawks that make their habitat in and around the state park.

Fair Hill NRMA
“Explore the Trail to Centre School”

Elkton, Maryland
Time of Event:
1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 86 miles/1 hour, 32 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Covered Bridge parking lot.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families
Minimum age for kids: Age 8
Length of Trail: 4 miles round trip.
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking.
RSVP: Call Fair Hill NRMA at 410-398-1246 to let us know you are joining the hike.
Additional Information: Set to reconnect with the natural world as you journey to and from Centre School, a one-room schoolhouse that has been restored and was last used in 1924. Dogs on a leash are welcome.

Cunningham Falls State Park
“Explore Cunningham Falls”

Thurmont, Maryland
Time of Event: 1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood
: 89 miles/1 hour, 40 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Falls Trailhead lot in the William Houck Area of Cunningham Falls State Park.
Degree of Difficulty:
Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages. The hike will cover some rocky and steep terrain.
Minimum age for kids: Age 5
Length of Trail: 1.2 miles round trip
Things to bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Cunningham Falls State Park at 301-271-7574
Additional Information: Dogs on a leash are welcome. Set an intention for good health or to reconnect with the natural world as we journey to the Cunningham Falls, the longest cascading waterfall in Maryland.

Pocomoke River State Park
“First Day Hike”

Snow Hill, Maryland (Eastern Shore)
Time of event: 10 a.m.
Distance from Harwood: 119 miles/2 hours, 11 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Shad Landing Administration Building
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for all ages
Length of Trail: 2 miles round trip
Things to bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and sturdy hiking shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking.
RSVP: Call Pocomoke River State Park at 410-632-2566
Additional Information: Where can you experience native stands of loblolly pines, stands of mixed pine/hardwoods, and a cypress swamp all in a 2 mile trip? Right on Maryland’s Eastern Shore at Pocomoke River State Park. Join a ranger and travel down the Chandler Trail to see the Cypress swamp in winter. You may even encounter an overwintering Bald Eagle or catch a glimpse of an Eastern Tiger Salamander getting ready to lay eggs. This is a great way to start a New Year.

Fort Frederick State Park
“A Colonial Point of View”

Hancock, Maryland
Time of Event: 11 a.m. Hike will last approximately 1 hour.
Distance from Harwood: 120 miles/2 hours, 3 minutes
Meeting Location: Parking lot near the historic Fort
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for families of all ages
Length of Trail: 1 mile
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Fort Frederick State Park at 301-842-2155.
Additional Information: Journey back in time during the hike as participants examine New Year’s from an 18th century point of view, and Maryland’s western forest as it may have looked 250 years ago.

Assateague State Park
“Ilia Fehrer / Judy Johnson Memorial Beach Walk”

Assateague, Maryland (Eastern Shore)
Time of Event:
1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 131 miles/2 hours, 29 mins
Meeting Location: Meet at the Assateague State Park Concession Building
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages. The guided hike will take place on the beach.
Length of Trail: 1 mile round trip
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for cold/windy weather including hats and gloves and bring water for drinking and a camera (optional). Hot chocolate will be served on the concession deck following the walk.
RSVP: Call Assateague State Park at 410-641-1094
Additional Information: The first Assateague Beach Walk was held on January 1, 1970. The newly formed Committee to Preserve Assateague Island hosted the inaugural event to draw attention to Assateague’s wild beauty. The committee was created by Ilia Fehrer, Judy Johnson and a few friends who had organized to rally against early plans for development of Asstateague Island, which included a 25-mile highway and a number of commercial enterprises, and the Ocean Beach resort, much like Ocean City. A series of 1962 nor-easters interrupted construction, and eventually National and State Parks were established. The committee became the organization, Assateague Coastal Trust, who along with Assateague Island National Seashore and Assateague State Park sponsor the New Year’s Day walk each year.

Rocky Gap State Park
“Nature’s New Year Resolutions”

Flintstone, Maryland
Time of Event: 1 p.m. Hike will last approximately 1 hour. The hike will include parts of the Canyon Overlook Nature Trail, Touch of Nature Trail and Lakeside Loop Trail.
Distance from Harwood: 154 miles/2 hours, 42 minutes
Meeting Location: Participants should meet at the Touch of Nature Trail parking lot near the Lake Habeeb spillway.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for families of all ages
Length of Trail: 1 mile
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Rocky Gap State Park at 301-722-8966.
Additional Information: Visitors should expect to see stunning views of the Rocky Gap Gorge and peaceful Lake Habeeb. You will learn how past residents utilized the landscape and resources through touring a Native American rock shelter and crossing the dam which created Lake Habeeb. Hikers will also become immersed in a diverse natural world, learn about local wildlife and trees, and imagine what resolutions the forest would make for 2013. Dogs on a leash are welcome.

New Germany State Park
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland”

Time of Event: 1 p.m.
Distance from Harwood: 183 miles/3 hours, 6 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at New Germany State Park Lake House
Degree of Difficulty: Easy hike for families of all ages
Minimum age for kids: Age 4
Length of Trail: 1 mile
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call New Germany State Park at 301-895-5453.
Additional Information: Enjoy the winter wonderland of Western Maryland! A ranger will guide hikers in search of winter songbirds and other animals that make their home in the forest at New Germany State Park. Dogs on a leash are welcome.

Deep Creek Lake State Park
“First Day on the Lake”

Swanton, Maryland
Time of Event: 2 p.m. Hike will last approximately 1 hour.
Distance from Harwood: 200 miles/3 hours, 27 minutes
Meeting Location: Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike along the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake
Length of Trail: 2 miles. The length of this hike will depend upon the weather conditions of the day.
Things to Bring: A camera to capture lake and mountain Maryland memories. It is recommended that participants bring snowshoes or ice cleats to wear if those kinds of conditions exist on hike day. Participants should come prepared to be outside for an extended period of time in possibly very cold and windy weather conditions. Please bring water for drinking. The Discovery Center has a limited supply of snowshoes for rent – first come/first served.
RSVP: Call Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center at 301-387-7067.
Additional Information: In the event of deep, deep snow, an incoming winter weather front or icy conditions on hike day, the event will be cancelled. Otherwise, bundle up (hats and gloves are highly recommended) and take a shoreline walk with a Ranger on the first day of the new year. First day hikers will learn about lake ice, what happens in the water under the ice during winter, and other tidbits about lake ecology. Pets on leashes are welcome.

Herrington Manor State Park
“Over the River and Through the Woods”

Oakwood, Maryland
Time of Event:
1 p.m. Hike will last approximately 1 hour.
Distance from Harwood: 213 miles/3 hours, 39 minutes
Meeting Location: Meet at the Herrington Manor Lake House
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families of all ages
Length of Trail: 1 mile
Things to Bring: Participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather (rain, snow or shine), and bring water for drinking, and a camera (optional).
RSVP: Call Herrington Manor State Park at 301-334-9180
Additional Information: Join park staff for a hike of the area around the lake and learn how different animals deal with winter weather and the ecology of the park. Hot chocolate and coffee will be served in the Lake House after the hike. The hike is being dedicated to the memory of Ranger Kenny Hartman, a former manager at Herrington Manor, who passed away recently after losing his battle with cancer.

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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. Mitchelle@SouthRiverSource.com or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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