When I saw a January 1 mid-day hike at a nearby state park posted on Meetup, i signed up. I expected to meet with six or eight other hikers usually hiking with the group.
Instead, the parking lot was filled with families, dogs, groups of friends, all ready to begin their new year following a trail through the woods of a state park.
All in all, more than one hundred of us followed volunteers from Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn along the leaf-covered trail.
It seems I am a latecomer to the first-day hikes. State parks across the USA have been hosting hikes on January 1 for the last six years. In Pennsylvania alone this year, hikes were occurring at different times of day and night at more than 20 locations. That included a Last Night Hike in one park where they rang in the new year on the trail. Another park hosted a night hike that focused on owls in the park.
My particular hike distance was just over three miles. That distance was fine for me as I’ve been nursing a minor injury. Leaders took us down a relatively flat and newly renovated Mountain Creek Trail.Although Laurel Lake at the start was frozen over, temperature at hike time was in the high 40’s. The hot chocolate and cookies at the mid-way point were an unexpected treat provided by park volunteers.
I’m thinking this will be a great new tradition. Probably not the same state park, but wherever I happen to be on January 1, I will be looking for a First Day Hike.
Tell me about your First Day. Any hikers who found yourselves in a state park?