The Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks, in conjunction with an all-volunteer advisory board, oversees park areas and 14 recreation councils that offer opportunities for residents of all ages, no matter what their interest.
From softball, baseball, soccer and football, to firearm shooting, crafts, travel, fishing, walking or horseback riding, there's something close by for everybody.
The department also offers bus trips, youth and family programs, and classes for all ages in subjects ranging from arts and crafts and hobbies to health and fitness and therapeutic recreation.
Piney Run Park, and Hashawha Environment Center with Bear Branch Nature Center, are the park system's jewels. Piney Run is an 833-acre park with a 300-acre lake and a nature center that offers boating facilities, playgrounds, walking paths and a wide range of nature activities for all ages.
Hashawha is home to the Carroll County public school system's Outdoor School, which every sixth-grader attends for one week of the school year. The center itself is not open to the public, but the grounds are available for hiking around the property. A small lake provides fishing.
The department operates the 76-acre Carroll County Sports Complex, which has athletic fields that attract athletes from all over the country for softball and baseball tournaments.
Jeff R. Degitz, the department's director, said he hopes to break ground for two new parks in the county this year: Krimgold in Woodbine and Leister in Hampstead.
The department encourages residents to visit its Web site at http:--cagovernment.carr.org/recreation for specific information on county sites and activities.
Here is a list of some county-owned and operated park and recreation areas. For information on sites without a direct telephone number, call the Department of Recreation and Parks at 410-386-2103.
Bennett Cerf Park: -- Off Route 27 at Bennett Cerf Drive. Fishing, pavilions, tennis courts, picnic area, baseball and softball fields, concessions and pond.
Cape Horn Park: -- Route 30 and Cape Horn Road, Greenmount. Athletic fields, multiuse trails, restrooms.
Carroll County Equestrian Center: -- Grimville Road off Flag Marsh Road near Woodbine. Rental fee, riding rings, public-use electricity, grills, concessions, trails.
Carroll County Sports Complex: -- 2225 Littlestown Pike, Westminster, 410-857-4832. Rental fee. A 76-acre complex with concession building, pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, and soccer fields.
Deer Park: -- Deer Park Road off Route 32, near Gamber. Basketball, fishing, pavilions, restrooms, tennis courts, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, football and soccer fields, concession building, hiking trails, pond, cross-country skiing.
Freedom Park: -- 30 Raincliffe Road off Route 32, Sykesville. 90 acres. Pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, football and soccer fields, grills, concession building, multiuse trails, cross-country skiing, primitive camping.
Gillis Falls Reservoir: -- Gillis Falls Road near Mount Airy. Undeveloped, fishing, multiuse trails, cross-country skiing.
Hashawha Environmental Center and Bear Branch Nature Center: -- 300 John Owings Road, north of Westminster off Route 97 (Littlestown Pike), 410-848-2517 (nature center), 410-848-9040 (Hashawha). 300 acres. Hashawha's trails are open to the public with parking at the nature center or near the 1-acre pond. The nature center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday year-round.
Hodges Park: -- Hodges Road in Eldersburg off Bartholow Road. Restrooms, baseball and softball fields, and soccer fields.
Landon C. Burns Park: -- South Center Street at Gist Road, Westminster. The 4.7-acre park offers fishing from a pond shared with the Carroll County Farm Museum next door, pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, baseball fields, public use electricity, concession building, cross-country skiing.
Mayeski Park: -- 1300 block W. Old Liberty Road, Winfield (behind South Carroll High School). Pavilions, restrooms, volleyball courts, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, soccer and football fields, public use electricity, concession building, cross-country skiing.
North Carroll Community Pond: -- Route 30 and Basler Road, Hampstead. Fishing, pavilions, tennis courts, picnic area, tot lot, pond, ice skating.
Piney Run Park: -- 30 Martz Road off White Rock Road near Eldersburg, 410-795-3274 (park manager), 410-795-6043 (nature center). 833 acres. The park is open from 6 a.m. to sunset April 1 to Oct. 31 (nature center, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekends), when there is an entrance fee of $5 per car for county residents, and $8 for nonresidents. From Nov. 1 to March 31, the park gates are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays (nature center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday), free of charge, but the park is unstaffed.
Saltbox Park: -- Gillis Falls Road near Woodbine. Fishing, pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields.
Sandymount Park: -- Old Westminster Pike, Sandymount. Basketball, pavilions, restrooms, tennis courts, volleyball courts, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, public use electricity, concession building, hiking trails, cross-country skiing.
Union Mills Reservoir Site: -- Off Littlestown Pike on Sawmill Road, abuts Hashawha Environmental Center. Undeveloped, fishing, hiking trails, multiuse trails, cross-country skiing.
Westminster Community Pond: -- Route 140 at Route 97 North (Littlestown Pike). Fishing, pond, pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, public use electricity, ice skating.