America’s State Parks are inviting everyone to start the new year off enjoying time spent in nature and tapping into the health benefits of being outdoors.
To make it easy, state parks from Maine to California are offering free, First Day Hikes on January 1. The guided hikes are led by park staff members and volunteers who have expert knowledge of their respective locales.
The distance and difficulty of the trails vary from park to park, but the hikes are designed to benefit the entire family. This year there are more than 1,300 hikes available.
“It’s our way of wishing health and happiness for the coming new year,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors.
“Recent research is confirming the benefits of just 30 minutes a week spent in nature, and what better way to start a new healthy habit for 2023 than taking advantage of hikes being offered in state parks across the nation,” said Ledford. “Our hope is that this event will stimulate a passion for the outdoors and a desire to explore our local treasures throughout the entire year.”
Hikers can choose guided hikes that fit their comfort levels, including mountain and hill climbing, walks along lakes, exploring trails that wind through forests, and wildlife expeditions.
“Each state enjoys unique outdoor features and wildlife on its public lands,” Ledford said. “And no matter your weather preference, whether it be snow in the north and across the Rockies or mild temperatures across the south and southwest, you can experience it all with First Day Hikes.”
First Day Hikes began more than 30 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, which is a state park in Massachusetts.
America’s State Parks are committed to promoting outdoor recreation to help address mental, emotional and physical health – especially among children. So begin 2023 with a focus on your physical and mental well-being with a First Day Hike in one of America’s State Parks.
For more information on First Day Hikes at your nearest state park, go to https://www.stateparks.org/special-programs/first-day-hikes/. And use the hashtag #FirstDayHikes.
Header image: A hiker overlooks the Arkansas River Valley from high atop Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Arkansas following an early morning hike. Credit: Arkansas State Parks