This is the first in a series of 50 First Hikes blog posts.
To learn more about my #50FirstHikes Challenge, check out this post.
On Sunday, January 10, 2021, I completed my first hike of the year! The weather and my schedule weren’t really conducive to hiking the first week of the year, but last weekend turned about to be great weather for a winter hike!
With one hike down, I just have 49 to go!
This was a short hike mostly behind dense neighborhoods via a bit of a greenway. We hiked late in the afternoon, ending our hike right at sunset.
Hidden Creek Green Trail, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
I’ll be honest with you: We were not supposed to hike this trail! AllTrails led us to this location which was definitely not the trail we had planned to hike that afternoon; however, because there it was a trail we had never hiked, we went for it!
Distance: 2.36 miles
Terrain: A combination of paved and natural surfaces
Elevation Gain: 142 feet
Trail Markings: I felt like we were just winging it for the most part. I didn’t really see much in the way of signage, but for the paved areas, you could essentially hike in a loop. We didn’t really get lost, and we had plenty of cell reception in case we did.
For the paved parts of the trail, there were some steep inclines through the start of our hike. We saw people of all ages hiking the paved portions. I wouldn’t call this trail particularly friendly for people with disabilities, but the portions that we hiked around Kelley Park
were relatively flat with ramps near the parking areas and crosswalks.
Parking: There was ample parking in the neighborhood on this Sunday afternoon.
Distance to Washington, D.C.
Less than 25 miles
There wasn’t any sort of water feature or landmark along this hike. The hike we had planned had some sights, but we didn’t end up there, thanks to some janky directions. Maybe next time!
1 out of 5 (very easy for all fitness levels; no trekking poles needed)
In going back and reading more
about the Piscataway Conoy people, I discovered that I was actually working in Annapolis for a state legislator when Governor Martin O’Malley signed an Executive Order officially recognizing the tribe
by the State of Maryland. I know. That was weird for me to even type, but sadly this is not a unique experience for indigenous people in the United States.
I learned quite a few lessons on this hike. Some of them were about the communities surrounding this trail, others were about hiking in general. While this wasn’t my first hike – not by a long shot – there were ways in which I felt like I could’ve been better at acting like I’ve been hiking for decades!
Have a Better Game Plan
Could I have done a worse job at planning this hike? Maybe. But this was a straight-up rookie mistake! I’ve relied on AllTrails in the past and it has let me down in the past. This isn’t always the case, in fact, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it is super frustrating! I should’ve screenshotted a map of the trail we wanted to hike and made sure that the driving directions were indeed leading us to that location. Major fail.
Fortunately, we were in a pretty dense area with plenty of cell reception, so I never felt unsafe; however, this really can’t become a regular issue. Safety first, friends!
People Love Their Neighborhood Parks!
Okay, I already knew this from my days working for federal, state, and local legislators, but I’ve been mostly removed from these sorts of local disputes beyond my neighborhood.
When we hiked over to Kelley Park, we noticed some political signs at a house across the street. When I got home, I did a little digging around to figure out what exactly was going on here, because I did not see any lumberjacks from the school system using chainsaws to chop down trees, so the signs didn’t give me the full story.
From what I’ve read
, the school system made a land swap with the City of Gaithersburg to build an elementary school on part of the site, and many people in the neighborhood formed a group in an effort to save the park. Unfortunately for the neighbors, the new elementary school project is moving forward.
Winter Hikes Can Be Pretty and Colorful
I’m Starting to Notice More Tribute Sites on Trails
This is actually beautifully sad to me. On this trail, there was an area that was set up to honor a young man who had passed. I couldn’t find much as far as what happened, but he appeared to be a teenager when he died, and it had been a few years since his passing. There were a lot of items at this site, and part of me wondered if his family or friends regularly walked this trail.
It Feels Great to Go for a Short Hike
Every hike does not have to be some long, complicated hike! Sometimes it feels great to just squeeze in a short hike and take in a little sunlight and fresh air for an hour. I don’t have to travel far to have a little outdoor escape – something I’ve really come to appreciate on a deeper level since I’ve been working from home for almost a year now.
It feels weird to give this one a rating. This is basically through neighborhoods and is likely frequented by the neighborhood kids on their walk to school (there were a couple of schools within a short walking distance). It was a pretty well-maintained area, it felt safe, and while there weren’t really trail markings, there didn’t really need to be a ton of blazed trails or anything in this area.
I think this was a great trail for my first trail in this series as it’s not far from home, it’s an area I’ve driven by probably hundreds of times and never stopped to check out this trail. I felt like I was exploring the greater community, and I learned just a little about the history and the current issues impacting the neighborhoods.
Stay tuned for more hikes in this series! To get a sneak peek of hikes before the reviews land on this blog, visit my Instagram page!