Each year in the Finger Lakes ten hikes are offered throughout the region on the first Saturday of each month. Hikes are led by Parks staff or Parks interns and are offered at different locations each month and vary in length (3-5 miles) and difficulty. As leaders, we try to keep everyone together during the hikes as much as possible but with group size ranging from 2-50, variable terrain and different fitness levels we sometimes get spread out until we take a rest and regroup. We encourage everyone to attend, including but not limited to families, seasoned hikers, visitors to the region, locals, groups, clubs, well behaved dogs and anyone else you can think of. There is no First Saturday hike in January because of the January 1st First Day Hike on offered at Taughannock Falls State Park and no hike in May due to I Love My Park Day always falling on the first Saturday of May.
The idea behind these hikes is to get people out exploring new parks and learning more about hiking parks while getting a little exercise. Each hike is unique because there are sometimes different leaders and the mix of people who attend is always varied. Both of factors shape how the hike unfolds. We routinely discuss park history, geology, natural history, hiking basics and anything else that is relevant or sometimes topics that come from left field! Last month the temperature was in the low 40’s and there was a steady rain so we began with a discussion on hypothermia and how to tell if someone might be hypothermic.
The origin of this offering of hikes is linked to the 2014 First Day Hike when I first met Gary and Wendy Cremeens. After hiking five miles with me they said that they had such a good time that we should do it every month. Their positive energy and willingness to help and support everyone around them sold me on the idea. We offered our inaugural First Saturday Hike at Buttermilk Falls State Park in February of 2015. Gary is in the Cubs outfit in the photo below; he is usually wearing something fluorescent, almost always in shorts and when he attends, he runs around distributing the hike schedule, offering bug spray or tissues and welcomes everyone who shows up. Wendy is equally supportive and always acts as the hike sweeper so no one gets left behind.
Hikes are free (certain parks at certain times of year charge a parking fee) and reservations are not required but will be accepted via my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about the hike location, difficulty or any other related questions, feel free to email me in advance. The calendar of hikes can be found on the New York State Parks calendar or on Facebook by searching First Saturday Educational Hikes.
Post by Josh Teeter, State Parks