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More Than 4,000 People Hit the Trails for Maryland’s First Day Hikes

Marylanders begin 2024 enjoying the great outdoors 

Photo of people hiking a sandy trail on a sunny

Hikers trek the trail at Assateague State Park on New Year’s Day 2024. Photo by Anthony Burrows, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

A total of 4,248 people hiked about 10,691 miles during First Day Hikes in 40 different Maryland state parks on New Year’s weekend, according to data collected by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 

Between Dec. 31, 2023 and Jan. 1, 2024, park rangers led 47 scheduled hikes and other programs with an additional 15 self-guided opportunities that were available on state public lands across Maryland.

Photo of hikers in a snowy forest next to a lake

Hikers at New Germany State Park enjoyed a snowy New Year. Photo by Ranger Rob Bogart, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“Taking a First Day Hike has truly become a magnificent Maryland tradition, as more and more people start the year by connecting with the great outdoors,” said Maryland Park Service Director Angela Crenshaw. “These events continue to grow and thrive, and we are proud to welcome people from every corner of Maryland and beyond to our state’s gorgeous natural spaces.”

In true Maryland fashion, the weather across the state was highly variable this year. Some parts of the state enjoyed a sunny New Year’s Day morning with some showers in the afternoon and evening, while other parts of the state rang in the new year with snow on the ground. 

Ranger-led programs hosted 3,153 visitors and hikers covered about 7,961 miles, while 1,095 people took advantage of self-guided hikes covering at least 2,730 miles. In addition, through a Maryland Park Service online survey asking hikers to self-report, 154 hikers covered more than 77 miles in Maryland’s state parks.

Photo of woman with a cat in a backpack

A cat enjoys the ride at Smallwood State Park. Photo by Melissa Boyle, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

This year there were many exciting events which brought out a variety of visitors to parks all over the state, including groups other than hikers. At Tuckahoe State Park, a First Day Horse Ride, hosted in partnership with the Tuckahoe Equestrian Center, welcomed 50 riders. At Gunpowder Falls State Park, the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail hosted a First Day Bike Ride that, despite rainy conditions, was attended by several cyclists, all of whom were first-time visitors to the park. At Smallwood State Park, there was one very special visitor, brought along by two hikers new to the area: a cat in a backpack, which was an adorable addition to the hike. 

Photo of children next to a sign that says Jan. 1 First Day Hike

Patapsco Valley State Park on New Year’s Day, photo by Ranger Melissa Carson, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Last year, about 4,900 visitors took part in First Day Hikes in Maryland State Parks during the three-day period from December 31, 2022 through January 2, 2023.