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Start the New Year Off with a State Park Hike

December 14, 2015

Frederick County State Parks Washington County Recreation

Start the New Year Off with a State Park Hike

As you may have heard, the National Park Service will turn 100 in 2016. To celebrate this landmark anniversary, you are invited to #FindYourPark throughout the centennial year. Whether you're honoring the fallen at a national cemetery, biking along a rail trail, strolling through a National Register-listed historic district, taking in vistas along a scenic byway, or breathing in fresh air at your local community greenspace, there are countless opportunities to find your "park" state of mind. Kick off the NPS Centennial with a First Day Hike in one of Maryland's state parks. Note: This post originally appeared on the Visit Frederick blog.

Start your New Year with a First Day Hike in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area! All 50 states are participating in the fifth annual national event that invites families to celebrate the New Year with guided outdoor adventures. According to the American Hiking Society, last year more than 28,000 people covered approximately 66,000 miles during 885 hikes in state parks across the country. First Day Hikes give park visitors the opportunity to experience historical and cultural areas, seasonal flora, and wildlife park staff and volunteers. 

Three First Day Hikes are planned in the Heart of the Civil War, ranging from an easy degree of difficulty to a more moderate degree of difficulty. Hikers at Cunningham Falls State Park can follow a stone dust path, smooth enough for jogging strollers, all the way to Maryland’s longest cascading waterfall. Participants will have 20 minutes for rest, relaxation, and photographs at the falls. The hike at Gambrill State Park will follow the contour of the mountain to three beautiful overlooks to view the sunset on the first day of 2015.

Fort Frederick State Park First Day Hike: Birding Big Year Kick Off Hike

Join a park ranger to kick off the park's Birding Big Year. During 2016 Fort Frederick State Park will enlist all birders to compile a record of bird species found within the park boundaries. The hike will travel past woods, fields, wetlands, ponds and the Potomac River.

  • Time of Event: 11 a.m. Hike will last approximately 2 hours
  • Meeting Location: Fort Frederick State Park Visitor Center
  • Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate hike for families
  • Length of Trail: Approximately 2 to 4 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. Also bring binoculars, cameras, and bird identification books
  • RSVP: Call Fort Frederick State Park at 301-842-2155

Gambrill State Park First Day Hike: Green and Black Locust Trails

Join a Park Ranger on the Green and Black Locust Trails in the High Knob area, which follow the contour of the mountain to three beautiful overlooks. Take advantage of the rare chance to view these spots at sunset. Make sure to bring your camera.

  • Time of Event: 4 p.m.
  • Meeting Location: Call Gambrill State Park at 301-271-7574 to RSVP and for meeting location.
  • Degree of Difficulty: Moderate hike. Hike is not stroller accessible and not appropriate for adults carrying children in backpacks.
  • Length of Trail: 1/2 mile 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.
  • RSVP: Reservations are recommended. Call Gambrill State Park at 301-271-7574 

Greenbrier State Park First Day Hike: Winter Wonderland Hike

Join Park Rangers on New Year’s Day at Greenbrier State Park for a “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” hike around the lake. Two hikes will be offered this year. Take the easy lakeside trail hike and learn about the lake, trees and wildlife, including bald eagles, white-tailed deer, squirrels, chipmunks and red-tailed hawks that make their habitat in and around the state park. More experienced hikers can take the 2-3 hour, 3-mile hike on Greenbrier trails and enjoy a steady hike through the woods in the winter. Pets on a leash are welcome.

  • Time of Event: 1 p.m. Hike around the lake will last approximately 1.5 hours
  • Meeting Location: Meet at the Greenbrier Visitor Center
  • Degree of Difficulty: We are offering two hikes this year - an easy hike around the lake for all ages and a moderate-to-strenuous, hilly hike for more experienced hikers
  • Length of Trail: The lakeside hike is about 1.5 miles, which will take about 1.5 hours and the more strenuous hike is about 3 miles and will last 2-3 hours
  • 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 are recommended. Call Greenbrier State Park at 301-791-4767

Photo: Gambrill State Park. 

Charissa Hipp

Contributing Author: Charissa Hipp

Charissa Hipp previously served as the Digital Marketing and Media Relations Manager for Visit Frederick. She is a lifelong Marylander with more than twelve years of experience in the travel and tourism industry as a public relations/marketing professional. Charissa worked as a seasonal park... Read More