Holiday Fun Day 39—Maryland First Day Hikes

Embrace the chill and take to family on a First Day Hike at a Maryland State Park to kick off the new year!

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get active and enjoy the outdoors. On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes will taking place in all 50 states, including Maryland. It is a great time to enjoy the beauty of our state parks.

First Day Hikes are led by state park staff and volunteers. The trail conditions vary from park to park, with some on paved surfaces and others on natural paths, Distance and difficulty will also differ, but each park strives to create a experience to be enjoyed by the whole family. It is a unique opportunity to teach your children to appreciate our state park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guides.

First day hikeFor example, at Patapsco Valley State Park park staff will lead your family on a 2-mile, moderately difficult, scenic hike filled with fun facts about nature and the history of the area, while enjoying the views of cascading waterfalls and dazzling winter hills and valleys.

Tuckahoe State Park offers a two-plus mile round trip hike along the park's Office Trail and follow it up with an up-close-and-personal introduction to some of the park’s resident Scales & Tales birds of prey. Stick around to warm up with some hot chocolate and snacks.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park will be leading visitors on a hike to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge's Wildlife Drive along the Blackwater River. After the hike families can explore the Visitor Center with a ranger-led tour, learning about the importance of faith, family, community, and the landscape in shaping young Harriet Tubman. Hikers can also become Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center Junior Rangers. The Visitor Center will be open after the hike and hot cocoa and light snacks will be served.

All total there are over a dozen Maryland First Day Hikes taking place. Times vary, and please note some parks are stroller and pet friendly, and some are not. A full list of Maryland First Day Hikes with park specific details is provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

 

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The weather is supposed to be a bit nippy on New Year’s Day, so please follow these cold weather tips to keep everyone safe and warm.

Dress in layers. Those puffy coats that keep you from putting your arms down may not be the best accessory when hiking. Instead, dress in several layers that can be peeled off or put on when you stop and go on the trail. The base layer should be a wicking fabric that will pull your sweat away from the skin. Overheating is a dangerous threat since excessive moisture that isn’t allowed to escape can freeze and cause hypothermia. If you ever wondered why some of jackets have zippers under the armpits, it’s to keep air circulating and prevent your clothes from getting wet.

Listen to your mother and wear a hat! If your head is warm, it is easier for the rest of your body to be warm. Our heads are filled with oxygen-carrying capillaries which fuel our brains and consume one third of our energy. During the colder months it is important to keep your head covered so as to not lose precious body heat.

Keep your water bottle warm so you can stay hydrated. A foam sleeve like a koozie will help prevent the water from freezing in a bottle. Another tip to keep water from freezing is to keep your water bottle on the inside of your jacket –with the cap on tight.

Don’t forget the sunscreen. There may be a coating of snow on some trails so don’t forget about the sun’s glare reflecting off of white snow. A winter sunburn is just as painful on your little one’s nose as one during the middle of summer. Some SPF 30 will go a long way in ensuring the family is safe from the harmful rays of the sun.