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First Day Out hikes return for 2013

Twenty state parks in Maryland expected to participate in event New Year's Day

By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

December 30, 2012

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The inaugural First Day Out hikes were such a hit across 17 state parks in Maryland last New Year's Day, the state's Department of Natural Resources will be ringing in 2013 with a similar event at 20 different locations.

A year after more than 560 people took advantage of relatively warm winter weather to start 2012 being part of America's State Parks First Day Hike's program, DNR officials are hoping for another strong turnout Tuesday.

"A lot of it is weather dependent," said Barbara Knisely, who manages the DNR's website. "Last year we had a lot of people show up because it was such a nice day. We're expecting the same this year as long as it's not raining."

The event, which promotes healthy activities, is free of charge. According to the Maryland DNR website, First Day Hikes started over 20 years ago at Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program is geared toward families.

Most events begin in the early afternoon but a few start as early as 10 a.m.

Several of the hikes welcome participants of "all ages", but encourage the hiker to be at least 5 years old. A number of the hikes require the participants to be older due to the length of the hike or the difficulty of the terrain.

According to Knisely, Patapsco State Park is holding four different hikes — including one for military personnel and their families — after attracting more than 100 people last year.

Patapsco's "Hiking the Cascade Falls Trail" begins at 10 a.m. and is a 2-mile hike that requires participants to be at least 8. Patapsco' s "Photography In the Park" hike begins at 1 p.m. and is for participants 12 and older. The park's "Stories Through Historical Artifacts" hike, which begins at 1:30 p.m. is for participants of all ages and is a 3-mile hike on level ground.

For more information, please go to the DNR website at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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