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.
Kick off your New Year with a First Day Hike
Maryland Parks First Day Hikes
January 1–3, 2021. Maryland State Parks will be offering self-guided hike opportunities across the state. First Day Hike “I Hiked” Stickers will be available while supplies last! Be sure to follow Maryland State Parks policies to slow the spread of Covid-19, including keeping a 6-foot distance from anyone outside of your household and wearing a face covering when in close proximity to others and when indoors. dnr.maryland.gov
Calvert Cliffs State Park
The trail is approximately 3.6 miles round-trip, stroller accessible, and leads right to the Chesapeake Bay. Participants will stop along the hike to learn about the geologic history of the park, and look for fossilized shark teeth once at the beach. Admission into the park is free for all three days, and the Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park will be accepting donations for their First Day Food Drive for charity! Dogs on a leash are welcome.
Tuckahoe State Park invites you to join park staff on a 2-mile fun family hike in which where you will be on the lookout for all the beauty nature has to offer! Dogs on leash are welcome. In case of poor weather, contact duty ranger (443-221-8285) to confirm. Stick around to warm up with some hot chocolate and snacks.
Beverly Triton Nature Park First Day Hike
Get outside on a hike with a ranger to explore the park and enjoy the wildlife with family and friends. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy and dress for the weather. 1 p.m. Masks required. To register call 410-222-1978, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or register online. South River Farm Park.
Gunpowder Falls State Park: First Day BIKE on the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail
Led by Crew Members of the Maryland Conservation Corps, this First Day Bike Route starts at 9 a.m. and will begin at the Paper Mill Parking Lot, and will continue to the Phoenix Road Parking Lot and back. Pre-registration is required. Limited space available! Contact Ranger Nicole Staab at email@example.com for more information or to RSVP. Paper Mill Parking Lot off of the Torrey C. Brown Trail.
Jug Bay First Day Hike
9 a.m.–Noon. This year join volunteer naturalists, Mike Quinlan and Gordon Reynolds, on an exploration of the Sanctuary’s extensive trail system. See what the Sanctuary looks like naked, when the leaves are off the trees. Dress for the weather. Sturdy footwear, binoculars, and cameras recommended. Ages 10 and older. Free with $6 per vehicle park admission. To register go to the Jug Bay website Event Calendar and click on the event. Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian.
Sandy Point State Park
The self-guided “Jetty to Jetty” walk on the beach is a moderate 2-mile walk where you can take in the spectacular sights of the Chesapeake Bay, the Bay Bridge, and the Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse. Start at the South Beach Plaza. Leashed pets are welcome. Not stroller or wheelchair accessible. Portable restrooms are available near parking lots and South Beach Plaza. Park is open 7:00am to 4:00pm. $3.00 per vehicle entrance fee.
Merkle Natural Resources Management Area
There are three different hike options at Merkle, in Upper Marlboro, including the Paw Paw to Poplar Springs Trail Loop. This easy/moderate 3-mile loop is a self-guided, ranger recommended hike that starts from the visitor center, takes you across the short section of the Paw Paw Trail, around the exterior of the Red Trail, and back to the visitor center. Enjoy great wildlife viewing opportunities and keep an eye out for our champion Yellow Poplar tree! Leashed pets are welcome. Not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. Portable restroom available at Visitor Center. Maps available at the trailhead.
All total there are over 40 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. In case of inclement weather, contact the individual park that day to see if there are any changes in the schedule.
Winter Hiking Tips and Tricks
It’s officially winter, 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.