MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - New Year's Eve gets all of the attention, the parties, the champagne, the ball drop in Times Square. But, do you know about First Day Hikes that take place each New Year's Day?
Every Jan. 1, 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?)
According to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), "nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year last year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes. Numerous others hiked state park trails throughout the day."
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 Plainfield area:
Island Beach State Park - Enjoy a history tour and trail walk from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Ring in the New Year at beautiful Island Beach State Park! Join the Friends of IBSP for a scenic walk down the beach. Walk is approximately 2.0 miles. Naturalists will be on site to point out the flora and fauna present. Winter is a great time to experience the natural beauty of IBSP. Bring a snack, water, and appropriate clothing and footwear. Meet at Island Beach State Park, 2207 SW Central Ave, Seaside Park, NJ 08752, Pavilion at Swimming Area 1. Register here.
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park - Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands invites everyone to a First Day Hike in the Mapleton Preserve from 12 to 2 p.m.. Exercise your New Year's resolution to walk more, or make new friends on this easy 1.5 mile loop hike through the Mapleton Preserve. Join new friends for cocoa afterwards. It will begin and end at the Mapleton Preserve/D&R Canal State Park Headquarters at 145 Mapleton Road in Kingston. Dress for the weather, whatever it is. The walk is free and all are welcome. For more information, visit www.fpnl.org.
Round Valley State Park - Hike either the Cushetunk or Water Trail and look for signs of new life as the year begins. This is a moderate hike of 3.0 miles, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Meet at Round Valley Recreation Area South Lot 1220 Stanton Lebanon Rd, Lebanon, NJ 08833.
Spruce Run Recreation Area - A 15.2 mile hike that will take us along the Highlands Trail at Spruce Run, starting a little further along the reservoir, then following the Spruce Run through state owned lands. There are informal paths that connect the Union Furnace Nature Preserve to the Honachefsky Tract. From there, a walk and history talk through Glen Gardner, and then the new trail system recently installed along the Spruce Run in Lebanon Township. Registration is required by calling or texting (908) 343-8374. Meet at 104 Mountain Top Rd,Glen Gardner, NJ 08826.
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, we suggest Watchung Reservation. TAPinto has often enjoyed the Sierra Trail, but no matter which hike you choose, just get outside, enjoy and celebrate the start of a healthy 2019.
Be sure to wear sturdy, waterproof footgear and bring water and snacks no matter which hike you choose. Let someone know what route you choose to do - safety first!