Recreation for all ages, interests

April 23, 2006|BY A SUN REPORTER

The Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks, in conjunction with an all-volunteer advisory board, oversees numerous park areas and 14 recreation councils that offer opportunities for residents of all ages, no matter what their interest.

From softball, baseball, soccer and football, to firearm shooting, crafts, travel, fishing, walking or horseback riding, there's something close by for everybody.

The department also offers bus trips, youth and family programs, and classes for all ages in a variety of subjects ranging from arts and crafts and hobbies to health and fitness and therapeutic recreation.

Piney Run Park and Hashawha Environment Center with Bear Branch Nature Center are the park system's crown jewels. Piney Run is an 833-acre park with a 300-acre manmade lake and nature center that offers boating facilities, playgrounds, walking paths and a wide range of nature activities for all ages.

Hashawha is home to the Carroll County public school system's Outdoor School, which every sixth-grader attends for one week during the academic year.

The center is not open to the public, but the grounds are available for hiking around the 300-acre property. A small lake offers an opportunity for fishing.

Bear Branch Nature Center, on the Hashawha grounds, also offers nature programs for all ages. The Westminster Astronomical Society uses the center's planetarium to hold monthly star shows.

The department operates the 76-acre Carroll County Sports Complex, whose athletic fields attract players from all over the country for softball and baseball tournaments, as well as local recreation councils.

The county also has the Hap Baker Firearms Facility off Route 140, near the Northern Landfill north of Reese Road. In-county range fees are $10 daily, $40 season pass or $300 for a life membership. Short- and long-distance shooting and pistol ranges are available.

The facility is closed Mondays and Tuesdays; open 10 a.m. to one hour before sunset Wednesday to Sunday from April 1 to Dec. 31, and Friday to Sunday from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Jeff R. Degitz, the department's director, said he hopes to break ground for three more parks in the county this year: Krimgold in Woodbine, Gillis Falls near Mount Airy and Leister in Hampstead.

The eight incorporated municipalities also have recreational facilities that range from walking paths to large parks with opportunities for sports and relaxation.

In addition, the county's southeastern borders are flanked by Liberty Reservoir and parts of Patapsco State Valley, which offer fishing, hiking, horseback riding and bird-watching.

Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, northwest of Eldersburg and operated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, also is available for nature activities.

The county has about a dozen private and public golf courses or ranges, the privately owned Cascade Lake in Hampstead, and three bowling lanes (in Taneytown, Greenmount and Mount Airy).

The department encourages residents to visit its Web site at for information on county sites and activities.

"You can get just about anything off the Web site -- directions, how to rent a pavilion -- you name it, it's in there," Degitz said.

Here is a list of county-owned and -operated park and recreation areas in Carroll, with available facilities and activities. For information on sites without a direct telephone number, call the Department of Recreation and Parks at 410-386-2103.

County parks

Bennett Cerf Park: Off Route 27 at Bennett Cerf Drive. Fishing, pavilions, restrooms, tennis courts, picnic area, baseball and softball fields, concessions and pond.

Cape Horn Park: Route 30 and Cape Horn Road, Greenmount. Athletic fields, multiuse trails, cross-country skiing.

Carroll County Equestrian Center: Grimville Road off Flag Marsh Road near Woodbine. Admission fee. Riding rings, public-use electricity, grills, concessions, multiuse trails.

Carroll County Sports Complex: 2225 Littlestown Pike, Westminster, 410-857-4832. Rental fee. A 76-acre-complex with concession building, pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, and soccer fields.

Deer Park: Deer Park Road off Route 32, near Gamber. Basketball, fishing, pavilions, restrooms, tennis courts, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, football and soccer fields, concession building, hiking trails, pond, cross-country skiing.

Freedom Park: 30 Raincliffe Road off Route 32, Sykesville. 90 acres. Pavilions, restrooms, picnic area, tot lot, baseball and softball fields, football and soccer fields, grills, concession building, multiuse trails, cross-country skiing, primitive camping.

Gillis Falls Reservoir: Gillis Falls Road near Mount Airy. Undeveloped, fishing, multiuse trails, cross-country skiing.

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