Start the New Year with a healthy hike as part of a national effort called First Day Hikes.
Throughout all 50 states, state parks are hosting guided outdoor rambles.
Last year more than 27,000 people covered about 66,000 miles on 885 hikes in state parks across America, according to organizers.
That was an increase of some 5,000 people over the 2013 event.
This is the fourth annual national event and everyone is encouraged to log their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHike.
“First Day Hikes offer a healthy way for people of all ages to get outside and take in these beautiful natural areas,” said president of the National Association of State Park Directors Priscilla Geigis in a statement. “State parks provide unique opportunities for visitors to experience historical and cultural areas, seasonal flora and wildlife alongside dedicated park staff and volunteers.”
Hikes cover various distances and degree of terrain. There are some excursions that are under one mile while others are challenging workouts. Not only are there guided hikes, but some states will have guided rides for cyclists and equestrians.
The American Hiking Society, partnering with America’s State Parks for a second year to promote First Day Hikes, reminds visitors to remember the weather and plan accordingly.
“We encourage families in cold-weather states to be prepared for First Day Hikes by dressing in layers, wearing hats and appropriate footwear. We also recommend all hikers bring along snacks and water for the journey,” said American Hiking Society president Gregory Miller. “Many state parks offer pet-friendly hikes on New Year’s Day and families are reminded to maintain their dogs on a leash and keep their family pets sufficiently hydrated and fed.”
America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer residents an opportunity to explore unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.
“America’s State Parks is dedicated to helping young and old alike explore some of the most breathtaking public lands in their home states,” said NASPD executive director Lewis Ledford. “First Day Hikes offer opportunities for children to see firsthand how inspiring nature can be, and how outdoor exercise improves their physical and mental health.”
Featured hikes range from a trek across a natural bridge in Arizona, to a look at the historic mansion of New Hampshire’s first royal governor. Hikers can enjoy breathtaking views from atop the mammoth Table Rock Mountain in South Carolina or a morning run with park rangers in Texas.
In Michigan, park staff leads a one-mile Shoe Year’s Hike at Warren Dunes State Park on snowshoes followed by a campfire with hot chocolate. At Yankee Springs State Park, a moderate two-mile hike on the North Country Trail is planned.
Idaho’s Hells Gate State Park will not only host a couple of easy to moderate hikes, but they’ll be breaking out some birthday cake at noon in the Lewis Clark Discovery Center to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Massachusetts.
The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 8,200 park areas and visitation that exceeds 720 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.
Details about each state’s hikes, including locations, length and starting times are located at www.naspd.org.