Start the new year on the right path
A First Day Hike is a great way to start the New Year. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation are celebrating the ninth anniversary of this program at more than 70 sites across the state. More than 50 state parks and historic sites and 22 DEC sites will be hosting First Day hikes - some will feature notable history, animals, or landscapes, many will provide snacks, hot beverages, and giveaways.
First Day Hikes are a nationwide initiative led by America’s state parks. State parks in all 50 states welcome guests for free guided hikes on New Year's Day. Nearly 55,000 individuals collectively hiked 133,000 miles last year on January 1, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.
Even if you do not set New Year resolutions or goals, a First Day Hike provides an opportunity to encourage you to walk more,, cherish the outdoors, spend time with friends and family, and reflect. It might even inspire you to join a Friends group or volunteer at a public state land. It’s scientifically proven that people who spend time outdoors are happier. Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) advocates for these outdoor places, ensuring they are protected for generations to come. Park and outdoor enthusiasts can join the effort by attending Park Advocacy Day, March 2, 2020, I Love My Park Day, May 2, or joining PTNY.
Many thanks to the environmental educators, volunteers, and Friends groups that will be leading First Day Hikes. Friends groups of state parks often play a role in organizing and facilitating First Day Hikes. For example, Allegany State Park and the Friends of Allegany State Park will be hosting their fifth First Day Hike this year - around 100 participants are expected to join them. Allegany’s special touches to this event include offering two hikes of differing difficulties, chili, and a raffle.
There’s a hike for every New Yorker this January 1 but it’s a good idea to check the description first before bringing children and pets. Hikes vary in difficulty, distance, length, and activities. Also consider calling the park office before attending if inclement weather is expected.
A full listing and interactive map of all parks and public lands participating in First Day Hikes can be found at https://parks.ny.gov/events/first-day-hikes.aspx.