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First Day Hikes Scheduled for 2024 New Year’s Weekend

Photo of people walking on a trail in the woods

First Day Hike at Patapsco Valley State Park, photo by Maryland DNR

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites all Marylanders to take a First Day Hike — the annual tradition for a fun, healthy way to welcome the New Year.  

Maryland State Parks will be offering First Weekend hike opportunities across the state from December 31, 2023 – January 2, 2024. First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks that encourages all 50 states to offer outdoor hiking opportunities to kick off the year.

“First Day Hikes are a great way to start the New Year off on the right foot…or boot,” said Maryland Park Service Director Angela Crenshaw. “Maryland State Parks are offering a variety of opportunities all over the state to get out and hike to celebrate the start to 2024. Bring some water, a snack, and hike in the New Year on your public lands. I look forward to seeing you on the trail!”

For 2024, Maryland State Parks will offer more than 60 hikes across 40 state parks. As in previous years, there are two types of hikes available:

Ranger-led hikes: These hikes are accompanied and include interpretation by one or more Park Rangers, have specific start times, and often require advance registration. 

Self-guided hikes: These hikes will be available throughout the weekend, on well marked trails. Park staff and volunteers may be available to help hikers get started but will not join them on the trail.

With nearly 50 ranger-led hikes and 15 self-guided hike options through the weekend, there is a wide variety of outdoor adventures and experiences for every level of hiker and walker throughout Maryland. 

Some highlights include:

In Western Maryland, hikers can join a ranger-led First Day “Fitness Hike” at Rocky Gap State Park, for those looking to break a sweat to kick off the New Year, a ranger-led guided “First Day Hike through History” at South Mountain Battlefield State Park, and a  “Little Naturalist First Day Hike”, an easy 1-mile hike for children and their families, at New Germany State Park. 

In Central Maryland, the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail will offer bicyclists a guided “First Day Bike” ride; hikers have a choice of either an early morning First Day Sunrise Hike or First Day Sunset Hike at North Point State Park, and a “Last Day Hike” or “Kids Countdown Hike” on New Year’s Eve at Patapsco Valley State Park

In Southern Maryland, hikers can bring their four-legged friends on a “Trails and Tails” ranger-led First Day Hike at Calvert Cliffs State Park, join the guided “Where One Goes Pleasantly” First Day Hike along Mattawoman Creek at Smallwood State Park; or kick off the year with a “First Day the Rosaryville Way” hike at Rosaryville State Park.

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, hikers can bring their binoculars for a guided “First Day Bird Walk” or bring their  own horse for a “New Year’s Day Ride” at Tuckahoe State Park, close out the first day of 2024 with a “First Sunset Hike” at Janes Island State Park, or gather up the whole family for the “First Day Family Hike” along the beach at Assateague State Park.

These hikes provide unique access to Maryland’s cultural, historic, and natural resources and treasures, along with opportunities for education and stewardship. Many hikes are pet-friendly. “I Hiked” stickers will be available at select locations while supplies last. 

In addition to scheduled hikes, 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.

After taking part in a First Day Hike or visiting a state park, hikers are asked to complete an online survey to track their hikes and how many miles they covered.​ 

Note to Editors, Reporters, and Producers: Media is always welcome to cover a First Day Hike on our public lands; if possible contact the park office where you wish to attend in advance. Please be advised that onsite park staff will  have limited availability for interviews or other assistance.