As the New Year beckons, America’s State Parks invite everyone to embrace the great outdoors with their annual First Day Hike event on January 1, 2024. This nationwide initiative, stretching from Hawaii to Maine, offers an invigorating start to the year with over 1,000 guided hikes available in state parks across the country.
Lewis Ledford, the executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors, expresses his enthusiasm for the event’s growth and success. “This initiative has become a cherished tradition, providing individuals and families with the opportunity to embrace the outdoors, and kick off the year with a commitment to health and well-being,” he says.
The program also offers activities beyond hiking. Participants can also enjoy boating, fishing, horseback riding, or simply relax at a park bench, soaking in the environment. Special hikes like a scavenger hunt at Deception Pass State Park’s Bowman Bay in Washington and a sunrise hike on Arkansas’s Pinnacle Mountain State Park’s West Summit Trail demonstrate the variety of experiences available.
First Day Hikes began in 1992 at the Blue Hills Reservation State Park in Massachusetts. Since 2012, the initiative has expanded to include all 50 states, marking significant milestones such as approaching 1 million miles hiked and 500,000 participants in its history. As 2024 approaches, America’s State Parks aim to break records and encourage even more people to discover and enjoy their local parks.
For those interested in joining this New Year tradition, details about the First Day Hikes nearest to you can be found at stateparks.org/special-programs/first-day-hikes/. Participants are also encouraged to share their hiking experiences on social media using the hashtag #FirstDayHikes, contributing to a nationwide celebration of nature and community.