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Celebrate outdoors with 'First Day Hikes' at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas & public lands on New Year's Day

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Fri, Dec 27th 2019 07:00 am

9th annual event encourages families and friends to spend Jan. 1 holiday enjoying nature

New Yorkers can greet 2020 with a choice of 85 guided hikes at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails and public lands sponsored by the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Now in its ninth year, the annual “First Day Hikes” program includes a variety of events, from seal watches along an Atlantic Ocean bay and a bird count in the Capital Region, to hikes to fire towers in the Adirondacks/Catskills, along parts of the historic New York City drinking water system in the Hudson Valley, waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region and historic forts along the Great Lakes.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The’ First Day Hikes’ have become a tradition for many New Yorkers, and are a wonderful, healthy way to enjoy the scenic beauty of our state parks and historic sites. There are more family-friendly events than ever for people of varying abilities to choose from across the state.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “With the addition of two new DEC hikes this year, the popular annual ‘First Day Hike’ program continues to grow and reach even more New Yorkers and visitors. Together with State Parks, DEC is proud to host these annual events and encourage New Yorkers to take this day to connect with nature and experience some of our state’s most scenic outdoor destinations.”

New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, “A perfect New Year’s resolution is to discover new areas of New York state, and the ‘First Day Hikes’ program provides a great opportunity for visitors and residents alike to find what they love while experiencing the natural beauty of the state’s different regions.”

Hikes are being offered at 55 state parks and historic sites, and at 23 DEC state lands, wildlife areas, forest preserve trails and environmental education centers, with some sites offering more than one hike, which range in length from between one and five miles. Hikes will be guided by parks staff, members of park’s friends groups, and other volunteers.

New this year is a “First Day” hike at Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn, which is the newest state park, having opened in July; a snowmobile ride along the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park in the western part of the state; and first-time events in the Catskills.

Last year, more than 7,500 people took part in “First Day Hikes” programs across New York. If weather conditions permit, some “First Day Hikes” may include snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Many host sites will offer refreshments and giveaways.

Starting in Massachusetts in 1992, “First Day Hikes” are now a national event, taking place in all 50 states. Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes. Numerous others hiked state park trails throughout the day.

State Parks has introduced a series of videos focused on increasing awareness of best practices for recreational trail users, including walkers, hikers and bikers. This lighthearted video series educates visitors about responsible, low-impact recreation principles, such as those fostered by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The series is available here.

A list of New York “First Day Hikes,” location details, level of difficulty and length, terrain, pre-registration requirements and additional information can be found online at parks.ny.gov and dec.ny.gov.

Western New York

  • Allegany State Park Red House; 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; (two hikes) 716-354-9101, EXT. 232
  • DeVeaux Woods State Park, Niagara Falls; 10 a.m.; 716-282-5154
  • Evangola State Park, Irving; 9 a.m.; 716-549-1050
  • Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown; 2 p.m.; 716-282-5154
  • Genesee Valley Greenway, Hinsdale; 9 a.m.; 585-493-3614
  • Genesee Valley Greenway, Bull Street, Cuba; 1 p.m.; 585-493-3614
  • Genesee Valley Greenway snowmobile ride, Avon; 11 a.m.; 585-964-3614
  • Hamlin Beach State Park, Hamlin; 1 p.m.; 585-964-2462
  • Jersey Hill State Forest/Karr Valley Creek State Forest, Allegany County; 10:30 a.m.; 585-415-1521
  • Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora; 10 a.m.; 716-549-1050
  • Letchworth State Park, Castile; 9, 10, 11 a.m., and 12:30, 1 p.m. (five hikes); 585-493-3680
  • Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls; 2 p.m.; 716-282-5154
  • Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center, Depew; 11 a.m.; 716-683-5959
  • Zoar Valley multiple use area, Holcomb Pond, Cattaraugus; 9 a.m.; 716-379-6412

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and boat launches, which are visited by 74 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow on Instagram and Twitter.

Under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's “Adventure NY” initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active, outdoor recreation; connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors; protect natural resources; and boost local economies.

Read more about the “Adventure NY” initiative at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/adventureny.pdf.

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