If your spring plans involve finding new places to kayak along the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, the Magothy River Association has some suggestions. They have a new map highlighting 30 points of interest, and 8 “hidden gems” along the water. To find them, they’ll hand you a copy of their new water trail map. Then, they’ll suggest you find a computer or smart phone.
That’s because the Magothy River Association has taken a unique approach to creating their map, released in honor of the group’s 70th anniversary with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The printed map is artsy, with a hand-touched feel, but it’s paired with a series of short YouTube videos that use drone technology to provide a fast and effective aerial view of the routes you want to travel.
Expect a rustling in the woods across the Chesapeake Bay region on Jan. 1. Along with shuffling in the sand and, depending on the weather, some sloshing in the snow. That’s because more than 10,000 people will likely be out for a First Day Hike at state parks in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia alone.
First Day Hikes are a nationwide program sponsored by America’s State Parks, an association of state park directors. “The new year is a great opportunity to invite people to our state parks, whether they want to get a new start for their lifestyle or an environmental understanding of the great outdoors,” said executive director Lewis Ledford.
The program was launched more than 20 years ago in Massachusetts. In 2016, people inspired by nature, curiosity and possibly their New Year’s resolutions, visited parks for First Day Hikes in all 50 states. Information collected by the parks indicates that, together, more than 55,000 people joined in 1,169 hikes and covered more than 133,000 miles.
Robert and Dee Leggett wanted to buy a little natural land in Virginia, to preserve it and provide a local campground for Boy Scouts. But, in 1998, they ended up with closer to 900 acres of deep woods, babbling brooks, wildflower meadows and historic farmsteads after finding land that might be developed without their intervention.
And, this year, that property became the first state park in Virginia’s Loudoun County.
“It was fully open to development when we bought it and put the easements on it,” said Dee Leggett, recalling the long road to the land’s permanent protection as a state park.
The annual “swamp stomp” at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a wet, midwinter hike along the forested edge of the Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County, MD. For hike leader and sanctuary volunteer Siobhan Percey, it’s a pilgrimage of love — for the quirky, cunning and sometimes malodorous wetland plant known as Eastern skunk cabbage.