Four great hiking locations for McDaniel students

Photo by Matthew Danis.

Fall is in the air, and that means the weather is getting cooler and the leaves are starting to change. This makes it perfect for getting out into nature and being active without having to deal with the hassles of the hot weather. Maryland has many popular hiking spots some of which are local to Westminster.

Starting with the closest location, we have the Wakefield Valley Golf Course, which is less than three miles from McDaniel College. It is a permanently closed golf course but is a great place for going for a walk, run, or bike ride. It’s simple, but it is right near campus and a great place to go to get outdoors and have a good time.

Angel Petty is the president of the Outdoors Club at McDaniel, which gathers about once per month for events ranging from horseback riding, hiking, and even high ropes courses. “If I had to suggest one hiking area that gives you your biggest bang for your buck, it would have to be Hashawa Environmental Center” said Petty.

The Hashawa Environmental Center is only 15 minutes away, and it has 5 miles of trails to walk, a lake where you can fish, a picnic area, and a bird watching area. The Bear Branch Nature Center is also there and has tons of cool information about the park. It has everything that an outdoors person would love to do, all within 15 minutes of McDaniel.

Another location that is great for those who love hiking uphill or doing rock climbing is Sugarloaf Mountain, about an hour away in Fredrick County. It has multiple trails that range from only a mile to up to 7 miles.  If you hike to the top of the mountain’s 1,282ft summit you get an amazing view of the entirety of the surrounding area, which will be especially great during the fall when the leaves are changing color. There are also rock faces all around the mountains that are open for people to climb.

“I live close to Sugarloaf Mountain so I’ll go there often during the summer or winter to get a workout in hiking, and the view at the top is amazing, it’s totally worth the hike” said running and workout enthusiast Alex Fondersmith, a McDaniel student. “I’d recommend it to people that like a good challenge with a great reward, it’s a lot of fun.”

Cunningham falls is the last and most popular location for many people in Maryland to go to.  It is home to the longest cascading waterfall in Maryland. It has tons of trails to walk on, camping, and picnicking areas, there are designated swimming areas that allow you to explore the falls, as well as boating and fishing areas. It has many beautiful areas and lots of different activities that can appeal to almost anyone and is located only 45 minutes from McDaniel College in Thurmont.

“Personally, I enjoy backpacking on the Appalachian trail, but that’s scary to a lot of people” said Petty. “Hiking is more for beginners and this area is really great for that because there are plenty of trails to walk around and be in the outdoors and do literally anything you want to do. These local areas are all places I’d love to see McDaniel student go and enjoy the outdoors.