Make a New Year’s resolution to your health and happiness by kicking off 2016 with an invigorating First Day Hike at a state park near you. On January 1, all 50 states will be participating in the fifth annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with a guided outdoor exploration.
“First Day Hikes offer families the opportunity to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature on guided outdoor adventures,” National Association of State Park Directors President Domenic Bravo said. There are shorter options for families with young children, to longer treks for adventure seekers. State parks offer stunning views, unique cultural and historical experiences, and wintering wildlife for everyone to enjoy.”
Through the event, park rangers, naturalists and volunteers will share their knowledge of each state’s unique natural and cultural features. Adventures include a trek along a rail trail in Arkansas’ Delta Heritage Trail State Park, an expansive mountain view from atop the renovated fire tower in Georgia’s Fort Mountain State Park, and a Missouri hike amongst sinkholes, a geologic fault and serene woodlands in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. This year, many locations are including pet-friendly hikes, such as Greenbrier and Patapsco Valley state parks in Maryland.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the New Year than connecting with the great outdoors through a First Day Hike,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “Maryland Park Service rangers, staff and volunteers invite the public to join them in one of dozens of hikes across the state to learn what makes our state and its beautiful lands so special. I encourage everyone to make a New Year’s resolution to get outdoors and get healthy.”
Details on every state’s hikes are located at www.naspd.org. Participants are encouraged to log their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.
“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to explore the beauty and serenity of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while discovering beautiful public lands in every state.”
First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 41,000 people covered over 79,000 miles on 997 hikes across the country.
This year’s event coincides with the National Park Service’s Centennial, a celebration of the 100 years of stewardship of natural resources in state and national parks. State parks across the country are encouraging Park Service staff to join in on the First Day Hikes.