Many American firsts occurred in Massachusetts: the first Thanksgiving (widely to considered to be in 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 ranger-led outings nationwide.
Jan. 1 kicks off the new year with hundreds of 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 the click-on locator map on the First Day Hikes page.
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