By Ryan Romano
From the Geary F. Eppley Recreation Center to the numerous available sports fields and basketball courts across the campus, the University of Maryland gives its students a plethora of ways to stay in shape and connect with new people.
Increasingly, though, many students have picked up on one of the more simple forms of exercise: hiking. Without any rules or restrictions, it fits with the free lifestyle many students crave, and it doesn’t require expensive equipment or supplies.
“It’s not super difficult for anybody — even if they only have tennis shoes, [they can] just go out and go for a hike,” said senior geology major Kyle Ludwig.
Hiking at Maryland is obviously nothing new — the Terrapin Trail Club, a student organization that runs hikes and other outdoor endeavors, dates back to 1937 — but it does seem to have attracted a wider following in recent years, both in Maryland and overall.
“It is really popular in our culture right now,” said Adam Darchicourt, a senior accounting and information systems major and the president of Terrapin Trail Club. “I’ve always found there are people that want to do it.”
Zoe Spiliadis, a junior community and behavioral health major, works at the Maryland Adventure Program, a University Recreation and Wellness organization that coordinates activities like hikes. She noted that Maryland’s proximity to many scenic areas helps to get students started on hiking.
“We are very unique in the way that we have a lot of mountainous regions as well as rolling hills with woods and also beach hikes,” said Spiliadis.
Darchicourt echoed that sentiment, admitting that while College Park is “not that close to really great trails”, as schools in the Western U.S. might have, people interested in hiking still have plenty of options.
“We just have to drive a few hours and we’re in Shenandoah [National Park], or we’re in Monongahela [National Forest],” elaborated Darchicourt. “There is a lot around here within a few hours drive.”
And, of course, students who don’t want to drive can take the Paint Branch trail on the campus — a choice that both Ludwig and Darchicourt recommended.
For students who grew up elsewhere, hiking can help to foster new relationships and acquaint them to the area.
“A lot of our students that really get passionate about it are international students,” said Spiliadis. “The outdoors is a way to meet people from all over the world.”
Hiking’s popularity doesn’t look like it will fade any time soon. The efforts of the converted, led by Darchicourt, will have a lot to do with that.
“It’s really, really amazing when we find somebody who’s never done anything like this, and [we] open them up to it,” said Darchicourt. “It’s like a transformation.”