For example, so many families raved about the ice cream at South Mountain Creamery last year that the park service asked — and the owners agreed — to be a part of one Quest this year.

"The staff has such buy-in. They get to spotlight the hidden gems in their parks, the trails and landmarks," Ritter said. "They look forward to Park Quest as much as the families do."

Seven of the 24 parks are new this year. Out are Swallow Falls (a favorite and my starting point last year), Merkle, Calvert Cliffs, Wye, Tuckahoe and the saints — St.Mary's and St. Clement's (another fave). In are the Western Maryland Rail Trail, Fair Hill, Smallwood, Cedarville, Greenwell, Sassafras and Martinak.

The returning 17 have new Quests, foiling my thought of cribbing from last year's worksheets.

Park Quest 24/7 will be west to east. There's something about standing in the Atlantic Ocean that says "finished." If last year is any indication, the tripometer will tick off about 1,500 miles. Last year, I hit every county but Kent. This year, unless the disembodied voice of my GPS recalculates my route, it looks like I'll check off all 23 counties plus Baltimore.

Here's the breakdown:

Day 1 (Wednesday): Herrington Manor, Deep Creek Lake, New Germany, Rocky Gap

Day 2: Western Maryland Rail Trail, Fort Frederick, Cunningham Falls, South Mountain

Day 3: Smallwood, Cedarville, Greenwell

Day 4: Seneca Creek, Soldiers Delight, Gunpowder Falls, Patapsco Valley

Day 5: Susquehanna, Fair Hill, Elk Neck

Day 6: Sassafras, Martinak, Sandy Point

Day 7: Janes Island, Pocomoke, Assateague

The Outdoors Girl blog on The Baltimore Sun's website will carry a real-time, park-by-park account.

Why am I doing it?

Because it feels so good when I stop.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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