On January 1, 2015, get off the couch and take a First Day Hike with family or friends at a state park close to you.
Want to start a new ritual that’s great for your health and your spirit? America’s State Parks are encouraging Americans to take a “First Day Hike” on New Year’s Day, Thursday, January 1, 2015 to familiarize themselves with the year-round outdoor resources close to home.
The first of these hiking days was organized more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts, as part of an effort to foster healthy lifestyles. Last New Year’s Day (2014), more than 27,000 people took over 800 hikes in all 50 States as part of this national initiative.
“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” stated Lewis Ledford, Executive Director of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”
State park guides and volunteers lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the park. Visit the NASPD website and click on the logo to find the “First Day Hike” nearest to you. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are also listed there.
If you can’t find a participating state park close by, there are other options for planning outdoor adventures that will allow you to unplug, de-stress, and work off the holiday bloat. In addition to the parks administered under the state park system, the U.S. National Park Service oversees an additional 400 parks, organized by location on their website.
[A version of this article was published in the Chicago Tribune on December 8, 2014.]