The new year is a marker, a starting point from which everything is possible. We all make New Year’s resolutions — eat better, lose some weight, exercise more. Many times, it’s difficult to get those resolutions started, but there is one fun and easy way to kick-start your new year. Join in on one of the hundreds of first day hikes across the country.
What Are First Day Hikes?
First day hikes are just that. On New Year’s Day, state parks across the country organize hikes in some of the nation’s most beautiful landscapes. The goal is to get people outside and exercise and connect with nature.
Each hike is led by a knowledgeable and trained guide, usually a park ranger, who guides you through nature’s wonderland and points out interesting plants, birds, wildlife, and history.
How Did First Day Hikes Begin?
The first recognized first day hike was organized by Patrick Flynn, a former supervisor for the Blue Hills Reservation state park in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1992. Over 380 people attended that hike. The event was such a success that word began spreading across the country, and by 2012, state parks in all 50 states have organized hikes with thousands of people attending an event each New Year’s Day.
Many sponsors and non-profit organizations, including the American Hiking Society, have joined in the celebration to make it more enjoyable for hikers.
Hikes For Everyone
Whether you are a newcomer to hiking or a seasoned hiker, first day hikes are for everyone. In fact, they’re especially for newcomers. These hikes are a chance for you to try out the sport in a safe and friendly environment where you will learn a lot about the sport (and yourself) and make lifelong friends.
For veteran hikers, there are plenty of hikes that are more challenging and take you to beautiful destinations you may not have known existed.
Hikes vary in difficulty and length, but generally, the hikes are shorter and easy for all.
The Advantages Of Hiking
So, why take advantage of a first day hike? First, hiking is great exercise. Doctors all agree that walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is, and walking through nature is good for your soul, reduces stress, and gives your body a chance to wind down and regenerate after a hard week at work or day tied to a computer or phone.
How To Join A First Day Hike
First day hikes are held in all 50 states at state parks big and small. Make your plans by visiting the first day hikes page on the America’s State Parks website. There you will find an interactive map of the U.S. where you can click a colored dot in each state that will take you to that state’s main state park website.
From there, you can read about all of the first day hikes every state is offering. Each hike is detailed with where to meet up, how long and difficult the hike is, what you will see, and what you need to bring with you.
It’s just that simple to start the New Year right! I hope to see you on the trail!
Editor’s Note: If you want to plan your own first day hike, our hiking content is a good place to start. We have the best hikes in your state, recommended hiking gear, tips for hiking in cold weather, and more.