December 5, 2019 – As we rake up the last of the fall leaves and the weather turns colder, some may think that winter’s arrival means less time spent outside, but Maryland has many cold-weather outdoor recreation opportunities.
Western Maryland – or Mountain Maryland as some call it – is a true winter wonderland. We have 23 state parks and three state forests in the westernmost counties, plus access to the national Appalachian Trail, all of which provide wonderful wintry vistas.
For example, New Germany State Park is a popular destination for a winter getaway. When snow conditions are right, park staff groom and track the trails for a first class skiing experience. The trails offer a challenge for skiers of all abilities, with a flat, open “turnpike” for beginners, and winding hillside trails for more experienced skiers. It is also the perfect place to break out your snowshoes for a nostalgic winter’s trek — or check with the park about where to rent them.
When there is adequate snow, you can make a reservation for a faster-paced experience snowmobiling at Deep Creek Lake State Park, Deep Creek Lake Natural Resource Management Area, Wolf Den Run (our newest state park), and Garrett, Potomac, and Savage River state forests.
Maryland also offers several winter hunts for deer and wild turkey (the season dates are available on our website) and fishing never ends in Maryland. Intrepid anglers who don’t mind a little cold weather can fish for trout and other freshwater species in rivers and streams all year. And there are no season limits or catch limits for Maryland’s most wanted invasive fish, blue catfish and northern snakehead.
Last but not least, you can join DNR on New Year’s Day for a First Day Hike. In 2020, we will have 43 hikes planned at 31 locations across Maryland. It is a great way to begin the new year!
No matter what type of winter recreation you choose, I want to wish you a happy, safe and warm holiday season on behalf of all of us at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources!
Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.