With so many of us unable to travel, go to the office or visit with friends, we are turning to other ways to keep ourselves amused, and soothe our troubled souls this winter. If you are anything like us here at the Frederick County Forestry Board, one of your favorite ways to spend a sunny, cold day might be bundling up and taking a nature walk or hike in the parks, mountains and meadows of beautiful Frederick County. As the Norwegians are fond of saying, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing,” and we need those walks in the winter more than ever. Most people know we need sunshine so our bodies can make vitamin D, but there are other benefits, as well. Sunshine and even cloudy, natural light impact the brain’s pineal gland to facilitate a healthy sleep cycle and to help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It lifts our moods, in general, and we could all use a bit more of that during these challenging times.
Clearly, the benefits of bathing ourselves in the soothing and healing power of sunshine and nature cannot be over-stated. If you would like a very accessible and flat place to take a nature walk on a frosty morning, may we suggest you try out the tree walk in downtown Frederick? You can start in Shab Row and follow the walk all the way, deep into Baker Park and beyond, or, you can start anywhere along the way. Each tree on the walk has a paragraph of content and one or more photos that you can access using the website or the QR code on its metal nameplate. Once on the website, just scroll to find the tree you are viewing, or use the map. Still awaiting their name plates, but already on our website, are fourteen new trees on the historic campus of beautiful Hood College. Another way to explore the trees and tree walk, is to begin right here by going to https://www.frederick.forestryboard.org and clicking on “tree walks” up at the top of the page. While you are there, noodle around and see what kinds of resources the Frederick Forestry Board’s website has for you!
If you are looking for a more challenging hike, you can definitely find an ideal location in our very own Frederick County. We have forty miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, and much of it is within a quick drive. There are challenging courses, but also gentle walks within the trail, as well— just watch for trails classified as easy. Of course, we have other wonderful parks such as Gambrill State Park, Sugarloaf Mountain, Catoctin Mountain National Park, and Cunningham Falls State Park.
If you would like to drive outside the city to explore somewhere new, try taking a walk along one of our historic battlefield trails such as those at Monocacy National Battlefield, which has a central location and numerous trails. Go to https://www.nps.gov/mono/planyourvisit/foot_trails.htm to see the seven trails they have to offer. Particularly easy to get to and walk is Gambrill Mill Trail, very close to the shopping centers on route 355. Be sure to check out the Maryland State Champion American basswood on the walkway up to the historic manor house. It’s a spectacular tree! There are also some giant sycamores along the river trail that will knock your socks off, and a big, beautiful natural meadow that’s so full of insects and birds in the summer that it literally thrums, so plan to return later in the year.
We, at the Frederick Forestry Board, would like to encourage everyone to get outside for fresh air, sunshine, and nature while you simultaneously get some steps in. For the sake of your mental, physical and emotional health, bundle up and step out!
Article by Bethany Dell'angello
Photo credit: Frederick News Post - Bill Green
Nature note for 1/30/21