Ringing in the new year often means parties and toasts at midnight. For those looking for something a little more low-key or perhaps want to get a jump on a New Year’s resolution, take a hike outdoors and experience nature during the winter.
As president of the Free State Happy Wanderers, Bob Wolfe has helped organize over 20 New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day walks through the Savage area.
“It’s like the turkey trots on Thanksgiving,” Wolfe said. “It gets people out.”
An American Volkssport Association club, an organization promoting non-competitive 3.1-mile walks that originally started in Germany, the Free State Wanderers welcome anyone to join in for the New Year’s walks, which take place between 8:30 a.m. to noon with a finish by 3 p.m., both days and costs a nominal fee of $3.
“Walks typically take about an hour,” Wolfe said. “It’s pretty much all on sidewalks with some natural surfaces in Savage Park.”
Close to 300 people have walked in the past, he said. As New Year’s Eve is on a workday this year, Wolfe believes the numbers might go down a bit, though he estimates about 150 to 200 people will come.
“Walks take place rain or shine. We don’t stop for the weather unless it is a hurricane or 18 inches of snow and people can’t get out,” Wolf said. “My wife had to get used to walking when there was a little bit of snow on the sidewalks and it was cold outside.”
He recommends people dress in layers and bring water, which will also be available at the event.
“When you walk, you generate some heat,” Wolfe said. “Wear a hat and gloves.”
Volksmarch members can earn event stamps for both days as the trails are official AVA walks.
“Usually most weekends, there are events that clubs put on,” said Wolfe, mentioning an event in Annapolis that ended near the lighted boat parade and a walk in Baltimore down the Miracle on 34th Street light display.
For the New Year’s walks, there will be tables set up on both days offering information about the club and AVA. There will also be food — including soups, bratwurst and a bake table — for sale.
“All of this is the social aspect,” Wolfe said. “It’s a fun, first thing to do New Year’s event.”
Robinson Nature Center will host a New Year Nature Hike and Cider-Sipping on Jan. 4.
“Things seem dormant and like nothing is going on, but that’s not true,” said Joshua Detweiler, lead environmental educator at Robinson. “There are still mammals active and some plants, too. We have a lot of winter birds that like to stick around.”
The trees will remain decorated until spring, when the first buds appear, so people can enjoy them, as the center’s trails are open Wednesdays through Fridays, all year long, not just during events, Detweiler said.
Freestate Happy Wanderers’ New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day walks will take place Tuesday, Dec. 31, and Wednesday, Jan. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, beginning and ending at Savage Methodist Church, 9050 Baltimore St. $3. 410-437-2164.