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Celebrate 2022 outdoors with 'First Day Hikes' at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas & public lands


Mon, Dec 27th 2021 07:00 am

11th annual event offers more than 75 hikes for New Yorkers to spend Jan. 1 enjoying nature with friends & family

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently encouraged New Yorkers to spend time in the outdoors this holiday season and celebrate the new year at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails and public lands across the Empire State on Jan. 1, 2022. The variety of hikes offered includes seal walks, fire tower treks, lakefront trails, boardwalks, towpaths, walks along waterfalls, historic estates and military forts.

" ‘First Day Hikes’ are a widely popular tradition among New York families, as they remind us just how important our outdoor areas are to our health and happiness year-round," Hochul said. "New York state is home to so many unique hiking trails, and it's a joy to visit for all ages. Hiking on one of the state's beautiful trails is a unique way to welcome a bright, optimistic new year."

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation host or partner with volunteer organizations to host the many walks and hikes being held as part of the popular “First Day Hikes” program, marking its 11th anniversary.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "The new year is an ideal time to take a break from our hectic daily lives and embrace the outdoors with a walk or hike in New York's breathtaking scenic settings. ‘First Day Hikes’ are a fun tradition that offer a chance to experience our state's natural treasures in the winter season."

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York's annual ‘First Day Hikes’ grow in popularity every year, and to meet growing interest DEC added seven new hikes this year. Now more than ever, New Yorkers and visitors are getting outside and exploring our state's world-class natural destinations and trails. DEC is proud to continue to host these hikes with our partners at State Parks, and I encourage New Yorkers of all ages and abilities to get outdoors with family and friends this New Year's Day."

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event options for hikes range from self-guided treks to small staff- or volunteer-led hikes to multiple event options that day, allowing participants the time and space to social distance while still enjoying nature's winter wonders.

The walks and hikes are family-friendly, and typically range from one to five miles depending on the location and conditions. Hikes are being offered at more than 75 state parks, historic sites, DEC state lands, wildlife areas, forest preserve trails and environmental education centers with select sites offering multiple event options. The FDH events may include drawings for an annual Empire Pass, as well as keepsake giveaways.

Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, " ‘First Day Hikes’ are a great way to celebrate New York's outdoors with family and friends this winter. Any hike can become an overnight getaway when paired with craft food and beverage, a museum visit or live performance, and a stay at a heated cabin or cozy B&B. Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to come be a part of it, from snow-capped mountains and frozen waterfalls to other majestic winter scenes that await in our state parks and public lands."

A list of New York “First Day Hikes,” location details, format, preregistration requirements and additional information can be found online at parks.ny.gov and dec.ny.gov. Interested participants are encouraged to check the details of their preferred host site and preregister where required; alternate locations should be considered as capacity restrictions and registration limits may impact availability.

Local “First Day Hikes” include (all hikes Saturday, Jan 1, except where noted):

  • Allegany State Park – Red House, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; call 716-354-9101, ext. 232
  • Beaver Island State Park, Grand Island; 9:30-11 a.m.; 716-282-5154
  • Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown; 2-4 p.m.; 716-282-5154
  • Genesee Valley Greenway, Hinsdale; 9 a.m.; 585-493-3614
  • Genesee Valley Greenway, Bull St., Cuba; 1 p.m.; 585-493-3614
  • Genesee Valley Greenway Hike/Snowmobile Ride, Avon, 11 a.m.; 585-964-3614
  • Hamlin Beach State Park, Hamlin; 1 p.m.; 585-964-2462
  • Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora; 10 a.m. to noon; 716-549-1050
  • Letchworth State Park, Castile; guided tours at 7, 10 and 10:30 a.m.; 1 p.m. self-guided: all day; 585-493-3680
  • Reinstein Woods, Depew; 10 a.m.; 716-683-5959
  • Swift Hill State Forest, Town of Centerville; 11 a.m.; 585-415-1521
  • Tilman Road Wildlife Management Area, Clarence, noon; 716-851-7019

State Parks oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and boat launches, which are visited by 78 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518-474-0456. Connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

DEC manages nearly 5 million acres of public lands, including 3 million acres in the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves, 55 campgrounds and day-use areas, more than 5,000 miles of formal trails, and hundreds of trailheads, boat launches and fishing piers. Find recreation options by visiting “Love Our NY Lands” – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, or check out “DECinfo Locator” – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Many sites and trails are accessible to people with disabilities.

Starting in Massachusetts in 1992, “First Day Hikes” are now a national event taking place in all 50 states.

Other ideas to celebrate 2022 in the outdoors include finding a local park or trail. With the recent completion of the Empire State Trail, the longest multiuse state trail in the nation, residents along the 750-mile route have a wide variety of local trail segments to enjoy in all four seasons. Information about the trail is available at empiretrail.ny.gov.

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