First Day Hikes

      Making resolutions to be more active in 2019? Start the New Year off on the right foot with a first day hike. Last year nearly 28,000 people welcomed 2018 by hiking a collective 66,000 miles across the country on January 1. 

      The inaugural first day hikes began in Massachusetts in 1992. The program, now led by America’s State Parks, has since gone nationwide. The goal? To get people outdoors for heart-pumping, visually stunning, family-fun-filled hikes. On New Years Day, hundreds of guided hikes begin across all 50 states. The distance and rigor of each varies depending on the park and the guide. 

     In Maryland, “2019 will be an exciting year as we continue to create, enhance and maintain public access and recreation opportunities throughout the state,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “I urge everyone to kick it off with a resolution to join us in Maryland’s great outdoors.” 

     There are more than three dozen guided first day hikes in 32 parks across Maryland, several right here in Chesapeake Country. 

     Sandy Point State Park’s first day hike begins at 10am New Year’s Day. The 3.2-mile trail is moderately difficult.

      At Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, a naturalist leads the vigorous first day hike (8am). Bring your camera or binoculars for bird watching along the way.

      The first day hike at Calvert Cliffs State Park is ranked as easy, but the Fossil Hike trail is anything but boring. Bring a snack and water while you hunt for fossilized sharks teeth (10am). 

     In 2018, despite chilling temperatures, New Year’s Day saw 1,227 people hike 2,535 miles in Maryland. This year, parks will give away “I Hiked” stickers to all first day hikers who make the trek. Registration is required for most first day hikes, so make sure to secure your spot in the New Year. 

     Some tips for your cold weather excursions:

• Dress in layers.
• Remember to wear a hat. We lose most of our body heat through our heads so make sure to cover it.
• Ditch the ice cubes and bring warm water instead; better to warm you up and won’t freeze as fast. 
• Sunscreen is still important, especially when the sun’s glare reflects off snow.
• Winter days are shorter, so schedule your hikes accordingly and bring a flashlight with extra batteries just in case.