I enjoy walking. Now, I’m no Don or Alexandra DeArmon. I have climbed the Swiss Alps — in a heated rail car. But, I do very much enjoy walking at a fast pace each day. Normally, I walk the roads in my subdivision in the Linganore hills. On rainy days, I go to the firehouse and walk fast around and around the fire apparatus. It’s a bit more boring but serves the purpose.
At least once a week, I usually find another outdoor venue to provide different scenery than the 60 or so houses in my neighborhood. I have come to greatly appreciate the park systems available in the city of Frederick and Frederick County. One park that I essentially grew up in is Baker Park. This magnificent stretch of green from North Bentz Street to Culler Lake and beyond is an urban oasis unrivaled in any other community in Maryland.
My first recollection of Baker Park was when I was taken to the park by my grandmother when we lived on South Market Street. My most vivid memory is looking up at Frederick Police Officer Alton Twenty after I took a flying leap off a swing and landed on my rear, knocking the wind out of me. Though I was much more scared than injured, Officer Twenty happened to be on patrol in the park and immediately came over to check my welfare.
Frederick has taken Baker Park to extreme by launching the Carroll Creek Linear Park concept west past U.S. Route 15 and east all the way to East Patrick Street, providing several miles to walk and jog along the town’s featured waterway. As development continues along East Church Street, the park will most likely extend almost to the Monocacy River. Walking from Culler Lake to East Patrick Street is extremely enjoyable, providing a varied background from nature to city life.
Frederick County has also developed a fantastic park system to provide excellent walking and jogging trails, playgrounds and a variety of sports fields. During the pandemic, my family discovered Old National Pike Park along Md. 144 as a location to bring our family members who live outside of Frederick County together. Our five grandchildren were able to play together outside in relative safety and have lunch in an open-air pavilion separated enough to help avoid transmitting COVID-19. The nature trail at the park was enjoyed by young and old. My wife and I discovered the nearly mile-long walking trail — we still occasionally walk there — as an alternative to walking in our community.
Recently, our grandson, who lives in Howard County, participated in a soccer tournament at Ballenger Creek Park and Othello Regional Park near Petersville. Our county has embraced the fact that soccer has become the sport of preference to many of our youth by developing excellent soccer venues in most of the more recent county parks.
Even our smaller towns and community parks are to be commended. The “trolley trail” in Thurmont that has been developed by the Town of Thurmont and the Thurmont Lions Club not only provides exercise opportunity but also helps highlight the history of the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway. Even the Libertytown Civic Association has brought together a volunteer effort to maintain Unglesbee Park around the community pond in Libertytown.
We are also very fortunate to have excellent state parks that truly preserve the rustic nature of our county, and provide great outdoor activities and some of the best stream fishing opportunities on the east coast. On the federal side, Catoctin Mountain Park has trails and camps enjoyed by the public and presidents. The coordinated efforts of U.S. Forestry Service, National Park Service, Maryland State Forestry and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy help maintain the Appalachian Trail along the western Frederick County mountain tops.
Our state and federal park agencies are fighting each year just to maintain consistent funding. The effort to balance a county budget with education and public safety with parks and recreation is an annual challenge. Municipalities that have to try to maintain a reasonable tax on citizens living within the corporate limits struggle to fund parks and recreation facilities while trying to keep the additional tax burden to their citizens reasonable.
I sincerely appreciate the efforts of our federal, state, county and municipal governments to keep funds available for our park systems while providing funding for critical services. Thanks to the many volunteers who help in so many different ways to maintain the parks. Our parks, playgrounds and sports facilities are part of the reason Frederick County is always highlighted as a desired location to live, work and play. As the weather improves, take the time to appreciate the great outdoors in our county.
Clarence “Chip” Jewell is a native of Frederick County who has never run a marathon but enjoys the simple pleasure and health benefits of walking, and is appreciative of the parks and trails throughout the city of Frederick and Frederick County.