The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites everyone to take a First Day Hike, Maryland’s annual tradition for a fun, healthy way to welcome the New Year.
The Maryland Park Service will once again make First Day Hikes a weekend-long event, with ranger-led and self-guided opportunities across the state from Dec. 31, 2021, through Jan. 2, 2022.
Ranger-led hikes will be accompanied by park staff and leave at assigned times — some may require advance registration. Self-guided hikes will be available throughout the weekend, on well-marked trails. Park staff and volunteers may be available to get hikers started but will not be joining them on the trail.
As always, all Maryland’s state parks, state forests, and wildlife management areas will be open to all for trekking hundreds of miles of trails. Hikers should check the DNR website for information about public lands near them.
“There is no better way to start the new year than getting outside and exploring our natural and cultural resources with friends and family,” Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “We are pleased to offer our visitors an opportunity to enjoy the growing tradition of First Day Hikes.”
These hikes will provide a variety of outdoor adventures and experiences for every level of hiker and walker, including unique access to Maryland’s cultural, historic natural resources and treasures, along with opportunities for education and stewardship. Many hikes are even pet-friendly. Stickers for the 2022 First Day Hikes will be available at select locations while supplies last.
On New Year’s Weekend 2021, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources estimates that 16,237 visitors took part in First Day Hikes in Maryland State Parks during the three-day period from January 1-3, 2021. Last year, only self-guided hikes were available due to the pandemic.
After their visit, hikers are asked to complete an online survey to track their hikes and how many miles they covered.?
First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide event sponsored by America’s State Parks.