Get Outdoors Baltimore offers fun, prizes

By VERONICA REARDON | September 29, 2016

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COURTESY OF MOLLY GALLANT Herring Run Park

Baltimore isn’t the first place anyone thinks of when they think of the outdoors, which in a way does make sense — after all, it is very definitely an urban environment.

Despite its urban identity, Baltimore is full of amazing outdoor resources to explore. This weekend, you can win both prizes and a better knowledge of Baltimore’s resources by getting outside this weekend through Get Outdoors Baltimore, which will be run by Outdoor Pursuits (OP), one of the outdoors organizations on our campus.

The event will start on the Freshman Quad on Friday. OP will host an Outdoor Olympics of sorts there, where anyone can compete in various outdoors games to win prizes. The rest of the weekend will be have an off-campus focus.

You — yes, you — can go off campus independently with your friends and take pictures to post in the Facebook event in order to win more nifty prizes from OP.

“But where in the world will I go to get outside in Baltimore?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Baltimore has so many amazing opportunities to get outside it is impossible to cover them a in one article, but here are a few of my favorites:

Druid Hill Park is a Baltimore classic that features more than the Reservoir and the Zoo. It has a lot of lovely trees, a really nice trail in the back hills behind the zoo for running and biking, the Rawlings Conservatory and many other resources. It’s about two miles away from campus, making it a great running destination and an even better biking destination.

The next spot is Lake Montebello. Interestingly, this popular spot is not run by the Department of Recreation and Parks. It is tended to by the Department of Public Works because it is technically a body of water, not a park, although it is used as a recreational area by many people.

This means that while there is workout equipment, running and biking paths and some nice treed areas, there are no public bathrooms at the lake itself. The nearest bathrooms are down in the nearby Herring Run Park. However the lake is definitely still worth a visit. It’s beautiful and a great running destination, and Recreation and Parks has a bike program on Saturday mornings there that allows people to check out bikes for a suggested donation (essentially free).

This outdoors area is also only two miles away from campus and is a straight shot down 33rd Street. Herring Run Park is an even better area and is right next to Lake Montebello.

The next park is a little further away from Hopkins. Home of First Thursdays and other events, Canton Waterfront Park is right on the Harbor. It is great for a picnic — definitely a part of the charm of Charm City. It’s also close to many restaurants and businesses.

If you’re looking for a larger park, Patterson Park is another great option and is nearby to Canton Waterfront Park. You could even visit both Canton Waterfront park and Patterson Park on the same day. Patterson Park is the oldest park in Baltimore, and features an awesome pagoda and other elements of 19th-century park design.

Middle Branch Park is slightly far from campus, but if you’re looking for an afternoon bike ride that will take you through the Harbor, past the stadium and around again to views of the water, you should hit it up. Fair warning: a short section of the path goes by some sort of trash facility. The rest is very nice though and fairly well blazed.

Recreation and Parks also has a boat program at Middle Branch Park on Fridays from 6:30 to 9 p.m., which allows you to rent a boat and watch the sunset.

Last but far from least, Gwynns Falls Leakin Park is one of the largest woodland city parks in the U.S. It has hiking, biking and the Carrie Murray Nature Center, as well as some strange and cool sculptures along the trails.

There is even rock climbing if you have the equipment. Yes, bodies have been found there, but bodies have also been found in the Inner Harbor. As a matter of fact, a body washed up in the Harbor just this summer, while the last body was found in Leakin Park four years ago. Gwynns Falls Leakin Park is an amazing recreational resource and needs to be valued more.

I could write more about Baltimore’s green spaces, but this will have to be it for now. There will be camp-outs in both Herring Run and Gwynns Falls Leakin Park this October run by Friends groups and by Baltimore Recreation and Parks. Go check them out, and get outdoors in Baltimore. Love the city we live in! And this weekend — win prizes while doing it.

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