Hiking is a great way to meet people, socialize, keep in shape and enjoy the wonders of nature all at the same time. Talk about getting the most bang for your buck. If you live in the Baltimore area, hook up with like-minded folks at the Mountain Club of Maryland, a Baltimore-based volunteer-led group.
Mountain Club of Maryland, www.mcomd.org.
The Mountain Club of Maryland, founded in 1934, stands as both the oldest and largest hiking club in Maryland. It evolved from simple needs. A group of Baltimoreans decided that 5 a.m. was much too early to leave to hook up with those in Potomac to hike. They figured there had to be a better way, so they set about putting together what is known as The Mountain Club of Maryland.
The Club holds hikes in local parks/paths, in State and National Parks on Wednesdays and weekends year round. MCOM holds its traditional “Anniversary Hike” from Crampton Gap to Weverton) in October, commemorating its first official hike in 1934.
Mountain Club of Maryland follows environmental-friendly, service-oriented principles such as “Leave No Trace” and members work on local trails, as well as on the first National Scenic Trail, the Appalachian Trail. This Club prides itself as one of 30 hiking clubs in the United States that helps to maintain portions of the 2,175-mile footpath designated the Appalachian Trail. According to its Web site: “While primarily a hiking club, the MCM has always taken an interest in conservation at first on a personal level and later through the Conservation Committee, which has been active in behalf of many concerns.”
Members also hike other sites in neighboring states. Each of the scheduled hikes is led by an experienced hiker, so newbies need not worry. Also, hikes are graded according to their difficulty including hills and obstacles, as well as overall length. So, you’ll have a good idea what you’re getting into before you ever set foot on the course.
In addition to its full hiking schedule, Mountain Club of Maryland offers other outdoor activities such as seasonal canoe trips, backpacking weekends and camping. You’ll even have the chance to get involved in river tubing.
Members of Mountain Club of Maryland receive a newsletter, Hiker Highpoints, schedules of hikes and working events. The schedule lists the hike’s difficulty rating so you can plan for what suits you beset. You can be as active or inactive as you want to be. You can do the occasional weekend hike or take in one of the organization’s workshops to train hike leaders, learn and master backpacking skills or learn trail maintenance so you can get involved with maintaining hiking paths for other outdoor enthusiasts.
Why pay for a personal trainer or a gym membership when you can get fit and enjoy the wonders of Maryland’s great outdoor venues for so much less. Membership is open to anyone interested in hiking. In the old days you had to be sponsored by a member and even gain a number of points for hikes completed, but now it all revolves around your sheer want to join. For more information, MCOM at firstname.lastname@example.org.