Winter play in Maryland parks from dog sledding to snowshoeing

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The air is cold and the snowflakes maybe flying, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep your family inside until spring.

There are plenty of winter activities at Maryland’s local and state parks that will keep your family busy until the days grow longer. Check out our list of fun outdoor activities, from hiking to a frozen waterfall to riding in a one-horse open sleigh. Some activities are close to home while a few more are perfect for a winter weekend getaway.

Winter park activities close to home

Park Winter Ice Skating WIce Skate at Quiet Waters

Practice your double lutz (or just skating in a straight line) at the Quiet Waters Park ice rink in Annapolis. Skate rentals and lessons for all ages and experience levels are available at the outdoor rink, located in the center of the park off Quiet Waters Park Road. Helmets and walkers are also available for little skaters.

Cost: adults, $6; seniors and ages 4-12, $5; ages 3 and younger, free. Skate rental, $3. Before 5:30 p.m., cars pay a $6 park entry fee.
Hours: weekends, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; weekdays, 1 to 9 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays. Two-hour sessions start every hour on the hour.
600 Quiet Waters Park Rd., Annapolis; 410-222-1711,

Hike the winter woods

The 2.2-mile Cascade Falls Trail at Patapsco Valley State Park is a favorite winter trail of the Mountain Club of Maryland, the state’s oldest hiking club, and families across the Parks winter Cascade Wstate for its scenic views and proximity to a waterfall. When the temperature dips below 32 degrees, portions of the cascades freeze, creating dramatic ice formations.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, add the Morning Choice Trail onto your journey. The 1.8-mile trail connects the Cascade Falls Trail with the Rockburn Branch Trail and winds through a forest of mature trees.
The Cascade Falls Trail begins in the Orange Grove area of the park. Parking is available near the swinging bridge.

Cost: Hike is free. Entrance fee is $2/vehicle for in-state residents and $4/vehicle for out-of-state residents November through March.
Hours: 9 a.m.-dusk.
5120 South St., Halethorpe;

Play disc golf

Keep the clubs in the closet this winter, opting instead for the year-round 18-hole disc golf course at Kinder Farm Park in Millersville.

Like traditional golf, the goal is to complete each hole with the fewest throws.
Kinder Farm Park expanded its course from nine to 18 holes in 2015, doubling players’ opportunities to learn or participate in the sport, says Bill Offutt, Kinder Farm Park superintendent. The 18-hole course begins near the park’s community gardens. Park at the visitor center.

Cost: $6/vehicle park entry free. Disc golf is free but players must bring their own discs.
Hours: 7 a.m.-dusk. Closed on Tuesdays.
1001 Kinder Farm Park Rd., Millersville; 410-222-6115,

Winter Park Fun DogSled2 WSled with dogs

You don’t need to travel to Alaska to get an authentic mushing experience — and you don't even need snow. The staff and Siberian huskies from Maryland Sled Dog Adventures LLC take children and adults along the scenic Torrey C. Brown Trail (also known as the Northern Central Railroad Trail) in Gunpowder Falls State Park on either a sled or a rig — a wheeled dog sled. Choose between a one- or three-hour tour which both begin with a dog meet and greet, where participants can help harness and hook the dogs to the sled or rig.

Tours run October through March and often book up to a year in advance. Co-owner Catherine Benson recommends emailing early to book a tour or be added to the wait list. Participants must wear helmets and safety glasses.

Cost: $475/person for three-hour tour; $325 for the first person for the one-hour tour (ages 5 and up), $275 for subsequent riders. All non-riding guests are $10.
Hours: vary.
Tours meet at the trail. 443-562-5736, or

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Sled Dog Adventures LLC.

Click next below for more winter park fun a bit farther away.

Weekend getaways

Snowshoe, sled and cross-country skiParks Winter NewGermany W

Travel to Western Maryland for a weekend filled with snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing at New Germany State Park. With Big Savage Mountain to the east and the eastern Continental Divide to the west, the mountainous and forest-filled park is home to 10 miles of multi-use trails. Many of these trails are groomed for skiing when snow is adequate and include flat areas for beginners and winding hillside trails for more experienced skiers. Snowshoes are also welcome on some of the trails, but park rangers ask users to keep off ski tracks. The park is also home to several sledding hills. Visit the ranger station for details.

A warming hut, located in the park’s lake house, provides a comfortable break for families. The hut offers hot drinks, snacks and trail maps. Cross country skis and snowshoes are also available for rent in the hut on the weekends and in the park office during the week. For weekend stays, the park has 11 rental cabins open year-round — with cozy wood stoves.

Follow New Germany State Park on Twitter for the latest condition updates.

Cost: Ski or snowshoe rental is $15 for two hours, $25 for a full day. Rentals are first come, first served. Park entrance fee is $3/person during ski season weekends and holidays for in-state residents and $5/person for out-of-state residents.
Hours: 8 a.m.-sunset; all rental equipment must be returned by 5 p.m.
349 Headquarters Lane, Grantsville;

Photo by Stephen J. Badger.

Take a Horse-drawn sleigh ride

Soar through the snow while riding in Pleasant Valley Dream Ride’s horse-drawn sleigh. The Oakland-based company runs 45-minute rides during the day and at night on Duntrussen Farm and, by special request, through Deep Creek Lake State Park. The sleigh can fit between five and eight people, says co-owner Rachel Miller. Blankets are provided on the sleigh, but guests should still bundle up for cold conditions. If snow is lacking, the sleigh can also run on wheels.

Cost: Adults, $16; ages 3-12, $12; under age 3, free; $60/couple for private rides.
Hours: Sleigh rides start on the hour between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Reservations are required. Closed Sundays.
1689 Pleasant Valley Rd., Oakland; 301-334-1688,

By Allison Eatough

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