As the year and its challenges draw to a close, New Yorkers can look forward to 2022, hoping the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused so much stress and tribulation will recede from our lives.
During the pandemic, many people have embraced outdoor activity as a safe and healthy response, and the 11th annual First Day Hike events on Jan. 1 are a great way to ring in the New Year on public hiking trails across the state.
More than 80 such hikes will be held at State Parks, Historic Sites, state Department of Environmental Conservation lands, wildlife areas, Forest Preserve trails and environmental education centers.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, event options for hikes range from self-guided treks to small staff- or volunteer-led hikes to multiple event options that day, allowing participants the time and space to social distance while still enjoying nature’s winter wonders.
Because of the recent surge in COVID-19, Governor Kathy Hochul last week announced new masking requirements for going inside all public places and businesses. Read more about that here.
There are a variety of hikes from seal walks, fire tower treks, lakefront trails, boardwalks, and canal towpaths, to walks along waterfalls, historic estates, military forts and more.
The walks and hikes are family-friendly, and typically range from one to five miles depending on the location and conditions. Some First Day Hike events may include drawings for an annual Empire Pass, as well as keepsake giveaways.
Click on this slideshow below to see previous First Day Hike events…
Click here for a listing of Parks events for 2022, or use this interactive map below to locate hikes.
Additional information can be found online at parks.ny.gov and dec.ny.gov. Interested participants are encouraged to check the details of their preferred host site and pre-register where required; alternate locations should be considered as capacity restrictions and registration limits may impact availability.
As always with winter hiking, remember to dress warmly and in layers, while keeping in mind this old Scandinavian saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
And with snow and ice possible on many hiking trails, make sure to use proper footwear, and consider adding traction devices, like Microspikes, for additional stability.
Whether maintaining a safe distance in a group or hiking on your own, remember that you are still part of something that is happening across the U.S. in all 50 states, and dates back to the initial First Day Hikes that started in Massachusetts in 1992.
So, get outside, keep safe, and let’s ring in 2022 to welcome better days ahead!