Start 2020 off on the right foot with these New Year’s hikes in Baltimore County

Waking up early to exercise may not be in your New Year’s Day plans, but if you’re resolved to start 2020 off on a healthier foot, these Baltimore County parks and nonprofits have you covered.

State-organized New Year’s Day hikes, or First Day Hikes, began around 25 years ago in Massachusetts, and have since spread to all 50 states in a collaboration of association of state parks directors, said Melissa Acuti, chief of interpretation for the Maryland Park Service.


In 2020, state parks across Maryland will offer 36 guided hikes, the goal being “to get folks to kind of start the new year off on the right foot with … the mental and physical benefits of being outdoors in nature, and also learning more about our natural resources while recreating in our parks,” Acuti said.

The walks are family-friendly and mostly “pretty easy” and span 3 miles or less, with some more challenging trails thrown into the mix for more avid hikers, Acuti said.


“A lot of folks do think of state parks as more of a summer time destination for the beaches or things along those lines,” Acuti said, but really, a lot of our parks are located, especially here in Maryland, in your backyard.”

Participation generally depends on the weather, Acuti said; last year, just under 4,000 hikers joined Maryland state park tours, and walked a total of 8,500 miles, she added. While hikers won’t have to pay to join, regular park admission fees will apply, Acuti said.

The Baltimore area is expected to see mostly sunny conditions with a high of 45 degrees, according to forecasts by the National Weather Service.

Catonsville Rails to Trails, a nonprofit that preserves green space in Baltimore County by repurposing defunct rail lines into walkable trails, is also hosting its annual New Years Day Hike in Catonsville, which has in past years attracted over 100 participants, said Maureen Sweeney Smith, Rails to Trails vice president.

Starting at the Santa House on Frederick Road—where walkers can enjoy coffee and donuts—the casual trek will cross the main corridor to pass by the new Catonsville Cube mural, where walkers will learn about Rails to Trails’ plans for a pocket park designed by Ellicott City-based architectural firm brennan + company architects in the empty 35-feet-by-35-feet square between Bill’s Music and the Cube building, expected to start work in the spring, Smith said.

Walkers will be guided along almost 3 miles to the nonprofit’s newest connection at Mellor and Bloomingdale avenues, then to the walking trail near Spring Grove Hospital Center before ending the walk at the Hare Krishna Temple on Bloomsbury Avenue.

Registration costs $10 for hikers 10-years-old and up, and can be done online or before the walk starts Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. The funding will help Rails to Trails maintain its existing trails around Catonsville, Smith said.

“It’ a good, healthy way to start the new year, but more importantly to learn about where the trails are and how they can connect people to their part of the neighborhood and reduce the number of cars on the roads,” Smith said.

Here are a few places to join a guided New Year’s hike Baltimore County:

Catonsville New Year’s Day Hike

A less-than-3-mile walking tour throughout Catonsville, starting on Frederick Road and ending at the Hare Krishna Temple on Bloomsbury Avenue.

When: 8:30 a.m. Where: Meet at the Catonsville Santa House at 756 Frederick Road.


RSVP: In-person or on Eventbrite.

Gunpowder Falls State Park First Day Bike on the Torrey Brown Rail Trail An easy-to-moderate 5-mile bike ride. Registration required, bikes not provided. When: 9 a.m.

Where: Meet at the parking lot at 1302 Paper Mill Road in Cockeysville.

North Point State Park An easy, 2-mile hike for families.

When: 9 a.m. Where: Meet at parking lot A at 8400 North Point Road in Edgemere. RSVP: Email Nicole Staab.

Patapsco Valley State Park: Cascade Falls

A leisurely, half-mile walk. Limited to 40 participants; registration required.

When: 9:30 a.m.

Where: Meet at Orange Grove area of the Cascade Falls trailhead at 5120 South Street in Halethorpe.

RSVP: Call 410-461-5005

First Day Hike at Lake Roland

A free, easy hike for all ages guided by a park ranger. Start off with yoga in the park at 9 a.m. for $2 per person.

When: 10 a.m. to noon. Where: Lake Roland Park at 1000 Lakeside Drive in Baltimore.

RSVP: Email LakeRol-RP@BaltimoreCountyMD.gov with participants’ name, age and phone number for contact.

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