By: Jennifer Macko ’16, University Recreation & Wellness, Group Fitness Instructor
College Park: Step outside. Feel the clean, crisp breeze blowing leaves around you and look at the brilliant fall colors. Close your eyes and let your sense of hearing take over. The wind rustles through the trees, finches chirp as they peck through the grass… a dump truck slams this week’s garbage from its bin and a siren blares from Route One.
Imagine escaping the madness that is campus and being immersed in the quiet paradise that is Mother Nature.
Lucky for us, despite a proximity to the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capitol, we are also close to a multitude of national parks and forests. The Maryland and Virginia sections of the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah Valley, Great Falls, Monongahela, and Harpers Ferry are all just a few hours away by car and all offer great hikes.
Don’t have a car?
Don’t fret! Look for a friend who does or visit the Adventure Program at the Eppley Recreation Center.
The RecWell Adventure Program offers day trips and weekend outdoor adventure trips for reasonable prices. This program offers transportation and equipment as well as a trained leader to guide you through the lush deciduous forests of Maryland and Virginia.
Is a trip you wanted to take already full?
You can create a custom trip for groups of 6-10 students. Find a group of friends who share your passion for adventure or who just want to try something new and set up a weekend of outdoor fun. Use this online form to request a custom trip.
“I love being at College Park, it’s beautiful,” she says, “but it’s really nice to be in a different environment.”-Olivia Kelly ’15, Adventure Program challenge course leader
Any one can participate in these weekend trips, and it is the perfect way to escape, relax, and take a step back from the stress of college.
Spending time in the great outdoors has numerous health and wellness benefits, including:
- Increasing creativity
- Cardiovascular and strengthening workout (you can burn up to 600 calories an hour of hiking!)
- Lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol), lowering blood sugar, and improving glucose tolerance
UMD Sophomore, Jamal Gross ’17, a first time hiker shared his experience hiking the Billy Goat Trail in Potomac, Maryland. He initially signed up to go in order to get extra credit for a geology class and dreaded it being some “lame” trip. He returned feeling exhausted but excited to hike again!
“It was beautiful, fantastic! I’ve never felt so accomplished in my life.”
He also had the added benefit of bonding with peers, while playing trail games like “Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon.”
So, if you want to try something new, escape the hectic campus life, de-stress, bond with friends, have an adventure, get a workout, take breath-taking photos, explore the area, be one with nature… the possibilities are endless… then take a hike!
“The mountains are calling and I must go” –John Muir