Welcome the New Year with a New Tradition

For most of us, New Year’s traditions revolve around indoor activities—eating and watching football.

Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona, offers three First Day Hikes of varying length and difficulty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona, offers three First Day Hikes of varying length and difficulty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, an outdoor activity could make your holiday rituals even more fun and an invigorating way to kick off the New Year.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors.

First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

State parks nationwide have added First Day Hikes to their January 1 program schedule.

All 50 states are participating in the third annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds, and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.

“Last year, First Day Hikes hosted 22,000 people, who covered nearly 44,000 miles in 700 state parks all across the country,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).

“These family-friendly outings provide a great chance to get outside and experience the beauty of our parks, stay fit and build lasting traditions with loved ones.”

HOME_331On a First Day Hike visitors enjoy exciting one- to two- mile journeys through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park rangers and volunteers. Many hikes include additional activities such as campfires, s’mores, crafts, costume contests, and storytelling.

America’s State Parks and American Hiking Society are teaming up to promote First Day Hikes as a healthy and memorable way to start the New Year.

“Winter hiking is a fun and wonderful experience, but does require all hikers to be properly prepared,” noted Gregory Miller, president of American Hiking Society.

“We are encouraging Americans young and old to ring in the New Year by putting on their hiking boots and joining First Day Hikes in support of state parks and trails in 2014.”

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.

Featured hikes nationwide include a candlelight walk during Alaska’s darkest time of year, a horseback ride along Indiana’s Tippecanoe River, an interpretive trek along the magnificent longleaf pine forest at Florida’s Alfred B. Maclay Gardens, a guided exploration of the wide open desert hills of West Texas, and a sunrise tour of Hawaii’s sweeping ocean views.

“America’s State Parks is committed to connecting people with some of the most important natural and historical features in their region,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of NASPD.

“These hikes are also a reminder of the value of state parks to the well-being of children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from their electronics promotes their physical and mental health and inspires stewardship of our natural world for future generations.”

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 throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks.

Details about the more than 700 hike locations, including difficulty and length, program themes, terrain and starting times are listed on most state park system websites.

So, end 2013 and begin 2014 with some outdoor exercise and fun. It will be a nice addition to your holiday traditions!

Ring in 2014 with a First Day Hike in a state park near you.

Details

America’s State Parks

ASP-LogoAmerica’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.

To find a First Day Hike near you click on your state park of interest.

Website: americasstateparks.org

America’s State Parks + America’s National Parks = Great National System of Parks

Worth Pondering…

Start the year off on the right foot, the left foot, any foot—take a First Day Hike in a state park near you.

Read More

Start the New Year Off with a First Day Hike

With New Year’s Day just around the corner, people everywhere are zeroing in on their new year’s resolutions for 2013.

First Day Hikes 6460810215_b6a5b965f7Some will vow to add more exercise into their routines, and others will promise not to stay indoors as much.

You can start the New Year off on the right foot, the left foot, or any foot by tackling both those resolutions at once and at the same time create a new family tradition by participating in a “First Day Hike” at a park near you, and together start off your year in a new direction.

America’s State Parks announces that all 50 state park systems will sponsor guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day 2013.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks.

State involvement has grown to the point where, for the first time in 2012, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

America’s State Parks anticipated 50 events but were amazed at the number of Americans willing to skip New Year’s Eve revelry in order to get up early January 1 and hit the trails.

They ended up with 400 outings that drew 14,000 people, hiking a total of more than 30,000 miles.

This year will be even bigger, with more than 660 events from a cross-country ski outing in Alaska to a sunrise hike in Hawaii.

A perfect holiday tradition for the whole family, a First Day Hike will help make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle while appreciating the beauty of nature.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ring in the new year with a Summit Trail Hike. Come climb the rock and see what amazing geology, ecology, and cultural history Enchanted Rock has to offer. Meet at the gazebo at 9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. for a 2-hour hike. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose from guided hikes led by rangers, volunteers, or Master Naturalists or choose your own trail with a hike that meets your desired difficulty and length.

Pennsylvania

Eighteen of Pennsylvania’s state parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day to help visitors ring in 2013 with healthy exercise and a glimpse of nature’s winter beauty.

“We are excited to join in hosting these hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said.

“For the second consecutive year, First Day Hikes offer a great cure for cabin fever and a chance to burn off those extra holiday calories.”

Virginia

Last year 3,708 people hiked 5,583 miles as part of Virginia State Parks 2012 First Day Hikes. Hikers are encouraged to bring field, guides, a natural journal, and a camera.

Wyoming

The Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails are offering eight guided hikes on New Year’s Day at venues statewide. It’s the second year Wyoming has participated. More than 500 people participated in the four hikes the state held last year.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the coming hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park or historic site.

Texas

In Texas the First Day Hikes vary in difficulty and fitness levels, and range from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails and along boardwalks, to special bird watching hikes, to climbs into the mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Most hikes are guided by state park staff and volunteers and feature an interpretive message about native plants, animals, or park history. The walks average one to two miles in length, but many also offer shorter or longer trek options as well. There’s something for everyone!

America’s State Parks

Bring a  hat, sturdy shoes, binoculars, camera, warm clothes, and water to Alamo Lake State Park in Arizona. The one mile hike begins at 9 a.m.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bring a hat, sturdy shoes, binoculars, camera, warm clothes, and water to Alamo Lake State Park in Arizona. The one mile hike begins at 9 a.m. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.

To find a First Day Hike near you click on your state park of interest.

Website: americasstateparks.org

Worth Pondering…

So many trails…so little time…

Read More

America’s State Parks Promote First Day Hikes

America’s State Parks announced that all 50 state park systems will sponsor free, guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day 2012.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2012 at a state park, according to a recent news release.

“What better way to kick off the New Year than with a hike at a state park?” said Ruth Coleman, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind, and spirit.” stated Phil McNelly, NASPD’s Executive Director. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.

From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields, and prairies. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas, and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks.

Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, however, this is the first time all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

State park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.

First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

Facts about America’s State Parks

Total Park Visits                                           More than 740 million per year

Number of state park units                             7,810

Total economic impact on communities          More than $20 billion

Percent of visitors with children                     64%

Miles of trails                                                  44,219

Number of campsites                                      220,329

Number of cabins and lodges                         7,954

Details

National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD)

Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona, is a favorite with hikers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) is devoted to helping state park systems effectively manage and administer their state park system. The mission of the Association is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health, and economy.

Website: naspd.org

America’s State Parks

Website: americasstateparks.org

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes

First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

Select a State on the website below to find a First Day Hike near you.

Website: americasstateparks.org/first-day-hikes

America’s State Parks + America’s National Parks = Great National System of Parks

Worth Pondering…

Start the year off on the right foot, the left foot, any foot—take a First Day Hike in a state park near you.

Read More