BLOG: State Park First Day Hikes Offer Invigorating Start to New Year

By: Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources

December 28, 2015

If you resolve to get more exercise in the new year (who doesn’t?), you can kick it off right with a First Day Hike being held in 23 Pennsylvania state parks on New Year’s Day.  The guided hikes are free, and are part of a national effort to promote both healthy lifestyles and get people outdoors for year-round recreation at state parks.

A great cure for cabin fever and a chance to burn off those extra holiday calories, what better way to welcome the new year than with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks?

Hikers are invited to share their experience on social media using #FirstDayHike and #OutdoorsinPA.

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State involvement has grown to the point where all 50 states sponsor First Day Hikes.

Pennsylvanians are fortunate to have a state park within 25 miles, as well as 2.2 million acres of state forest land that they can explore. In addition to improving our quality of life and giving us places to play outdoors, state parks and the visitors they draw contribute close to a billion dollars in economic activity in nearby communities each year.

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The following Pennsylvania state parks are offering First Day Hikes: Bald Eagle, Black Moshannon, Caledonia, Canoe Creek, Delaware Canal, French Creek, Gifford Pinchot, Greenwood Furnace, Hills Creek, Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Jennings Environmental Education Center, Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Lackawanna, Little Buffalo, Marsh Creek, Moraine, Nescopeck, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, Parker Dam, Prince Gallitzin, Pymatuning, Raccoon Creek and Sinnemahoning.

Presque Isle State Park will offer a New Year’s Eve or “Last Night” hike for those who wish to ring in the New Year mid-hike. This 3-mile easy hike begins at 11:00pm on Dec. 31 and will conclude around 1:00 A.M. on January 1.

Different hikes will match different abilities.  Pennsylvania state park staff and volunteers lead the treks, which are usually about one or two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain. A complete list of events and times is available on the DCNR Calendar of Events.

Last year in Pennsylvania, more than 1,200 people hiked more than 2,881 miles.

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Prefer stretching your legs at a trail in a local park close to home? You can easily find one near you here. Search by county, name or location.

The ‘welcome mat’ is out at our state and local parks and trails. I’ll be lacing up my boots and heading to the First Day Hike at Caledonia State Park in Adams County being hosted by a newly-formed Friends volunteer group. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us New Year’s Day!

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