FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Often, New Year's Eve gets all of the attention.  But, do you know about First Day Hikes that take place each New Year's Day? 

Every Jan. 1st, America's State Parks offer free and guided hiking events in every state across the U.S. It's a perfect way to introduce individuals and families to the outdoors, and to a healthy lifestyle.  (Hello, resolutions?)

There are a number of state parks in New Jersey offering a First Day Hike.  Some require pre-registration, but all are open to the public.  Here are a just a few that are closer to the Piscataway area:

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Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm.  Enjoy a moderate three mile hike that begins at the Cheesequake State Park Nature Center.  Children eight years old and up with parents/guardians are welcome.  Registration is not required for this hike.  For more information, call 732-566-3208.  Bad weather will cancel; you can call this same number after 9:00 am. day of to check the status.

Island Beach State Park - Enjoy a history tour and trail walk from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  Hosted by the Friends of Island Beach, there will be a talk on the history of the park at the Interpretive Center, followed by a short hike.

Ringwood State Park - Meet at the Carriage House Visitor Center at NJ State Botanical Garden between 1:00 and 2:00 pm.  There is a three mile hike climbing to the Mt. Defiance overlook on the Halifax trail; or choose the one mile alternate hike with no climb. The easy to moderate hikes are self-guided and family-friendly.  Children with parents/guardians are welcome, and service animals only.  Registration isn't required.  For more information, call 973-962-7031.  Snow/severe weather cancels.  You can call 609-218-3532 to check the status the morning of the hike.

For a full list of participating parks, check out the American State Parks website here.  If you're interested in something a little closer to home, might we suggest Watchung Reservation.  No matter which one you choose, just get outside, enjoy and celebrate the start of a healthy 2017.

Be sure to wear sturdy, waterproof footgear and bring water and snacks no matter which hike you choose.