First Day Hike

What are your plans for the first day of the New Year? How about getting outdoors for a walk? On New Year’s Day all 50 states will offer free, guided First Day Hike programs, part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage families to enjoy some outdoor recreation. 

Rocks State Park First Day Hike, January 1, 2017.

Our family has participated in a First Day Hike each of the last two years. In 2016 we walked the trails at Patapsco State Park’s McKeldin area, and last year we hiked to the waterfall at Rocks State Park. Knowledgeable and friendly park staff or volunteers led each of the hikes, which moved at a moderate pace and included men and women of all ages, children, and dogs. Each year we stopped along the trail and gathered around when our leader shared information about the area, or slowed to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy a particularly scenic view. Both years it was cold outside (especially 2016), but dressed in layers we were very comfortable once we got moving. 

Hikers at Patapsco Valley State Park's First Day Hike January 1, 2016

Of course the SpinSheet staff understands that some of our readers will want to start off the year sailing. Many of you will log your first day on the water in your quest to join SpinSheet's Century Club. Others will compete in New Years Day racing or take a short cruise. But for the rest of us, who’ve tucked our boats away for the winter, First Day Hikes are a great way to start the New Year with some fresh air and exercise. Why not gather your boating, angling, or paddling friends and join us?

Fun holiday headwear at the Annapolis Yacht Club Hangover Bowl 2014. Photo by Al Schreitmueller

Maryland and Virginia’s state park systems each offered about 30 First Day Hikes in 2017. They vary in length, level of difficulty, and start time. Many are not too long or too challenging, so the whole family can come along. For more information, click to Maryland or Virginia's state park First Day Hikes pages. ~B.C.