As part of a national initiative, America's State Parks will be inviting everyone to take a hike on New Year's Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2013, to familiarize themselves with the wonderful outdoor resources available close to home. On that day, the state park system will be sponsoring 657 "First Day Hikes" in all 50 states to encourage individuals, families, and friends to exercise outdoors and enjoy nature.
If your New Year's resolutions involve walking off calories, and/or living a healthier lifestyle, this is a way you can begin keeping them on the first day of the year. Whether you partied hard during the holidays or hardly partied at all, you don't have to worry about the hikes being too strenuous. Led by park staff and volunteers, they generally average only one or two miles (or a bit longer), depending on the location.
To join one of the organized hikes, visit America's State Parks and click on your own state to identify the "First Day Hike" being held nearest to you. The website provides the start time of each hike, level of difficulty, terrain, minimum age requirements for children, directions to the meeting spot, and other helpful tips.
If you can't find a participating state park close-by, there are other options for planning an outdoor adventure on New Year's Day. In addition to the parks administered under the state park system, the National Park Service oversees an additional 400 parks, identifiable by location on their website.
The first "First Day Hike" was organized 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts, part of an effort to foster healthy lifestyles. Last year, was the first time that all 50 state parks systems participated in the initiative, offering 400 hikes nationwide.
I visited the 1400-acre Rockefeller Preserve, a state park in Pocantico Hills (Westchester County), New York outside of New York City last weekend. Its loops and paths meander through woodlands and meadows—-past glimmering lakes, rivers and streams. Whether you love nature, photography, birding, jogging or walking, a hike in the park is a great way to start the New Year.
"Last year, we offered 400 hikes and 14,000 participants logged over 30,000 miles in our state parks in all 50 states," said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). "These local treasures provide the perfect environment to get naturally healthy."