Hike in the New Year with a First Day Hike
Spend January 1 in a state park near you
What You’ll Find
For many Americans, New Year's Day offers the promise of new beginnings and resolutions to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. On January 1st, you can join thousands of Americans who will celebrate their New Year by participating in a fun and invigorating First Day Hike!
Led by knowledgeable state park staff and volunteers, First Day Hikes offer visitors an up close and personal opportunity to engage with park rangers, naturalists and trail experts who will interpret the flora, fauna, history and wildlife that are preserved in America's State Parks.
First Day Hikes is part of a national effort to promote healthy lifestyles and year-round recreation in the great outdoors in all 50 state park systems. These hikes also offer a great way to cure cabin fever, to discover something new about your state parks and to burn off extra holiday calories! On New Year's Day 2013, more than 22,000 Americans took to the trails and hiked a collective 43,911 miles.
From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Families can search each state park system’s website to find a list of state parks participating in First Day Hikes near them.
Make Sure You
Prepare for the conditions. Whether you are hiking in the balmy southern climates or the colder Northern States, visitors are reminded to dress for the weather. Some may need suncreen and bug repellent, others will want to bundle up with warm hats and gloves. No matter the climate, plan accordingly and bring water and snacks for outdoor treks. Where pets are permitted, families are also encouraged to bring along their dogs on a leash for an invigorating outdoor adventure. Visit the American Hiking Society’s cold-weather hiking tips page to help you prepare for your hike.
America’s State Parks offer visitors access to unique landscapes, endless opportunities to view wildlife and the prospect of fostering a deeper appreciation of a region's important and scenic natural resources. Significant cultural and historical sites are also preserved and interpreted within many state parks, and offer inspiring stories to hikers who may be learning of and seeing these sites for the first time.
Did You Know?
First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles and year-round recreation in state parks. New Year's Day 2014 will mark the third time all 50 state park systems join together to host First Day Hikes.
Contact a state park in your area for details about a First Day Hike. Some featured hikes include:
- Delaware: Grab your family and friends and head to one of eight Delaware State Parks to kick off a year of healthy living. You’ll explore East Coast woods and meadows and find plenty of reasons to come back.
- Maryland: Maryland State Parks will feature family-friendly hikes that explore an historic lighthouse, mixed hardwoods and cypress swamps, and the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, just to name a few. Maryland State Park First Day Hikes will also offer pet-friendly options for families with four-legged friends, including a hike for equestrians.
- New Hampshire: Park staff are partnering with local ski clubs and private vendors to offer guided hikes and scenic tours via snowshoes and cross country skis. This year’s celebration includes hikes in all three regions of New Hampshire at Monadnock State Park, Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Historic Site and Milan Hill State Park.
- North Carolina: Start a healthy family tradition in one of North Carolina’s featured state parks on New Year’s Day. From a leisurely family stroll to a strenuous mountain ascent, there are plenty of First Day Hike options to join your friends for fun and fresh air.
- Pennsylvania: Cure your cabin fever and grab your snowshoes for one of 17 featured hikes in the keystone state. Pennsylvania State Parks offer a healthy way to glimpse nature’s winter beauty and the perfect way to start the New Year off right.
- Virginia: All of Virginia’s 36 state parks will feature guided First Day Hikes and include nature walks, history programs and other activities for young and old alike. Self-guided options will also be offered for visitors who prefer to hike solo.
- West Virginia: Join state park naturalists at Cacapon and Blackwater Falls State Parks for outdoor family fun. January 1st temperatures in West Virginia can be mild or feature the wintry brunt of nature, so make sure to dress for the weather.