Many American firsts occurred in Massachusetts: the first Thanksgiving (1621, Plymouth Colony), the first public school (1635, Boston Latin), the first university (1636, Harvard, in Cambridge) and on and on through the centuries. Among the state’s the most recent firsts were the First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. They were begun two decades ago by Massachusetts State Parks and now have become America’s State Parks program. The program has now gone national, with FREE ranger-led outings nationwide.
January 1, 2016, kicks off with some 600 First Day Hikes in state parks across the country. Most are interpretive and introduce visitors to wildlife, trees and geology. Many people, especially those in northern states, have never visited state parks in winter, so a First Day Hike can be a new experience in a familiar place.
The easy-to-moderate hikes (1 to 4 miles) are suitable for families, though minimum age requirements might be in place. The routes include some that are wheelchair- or stroller-accessible. Dogs are permitted on some First Day Hikes, and park entry fees vary. Find a hike in your state (or wherever you might be spending the long New Year’s weekend) from either the click-on locator map of the drop-down menu on the First Day Hikes page.
Photo: Courtesy America’s State Parks.