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Monday, December 28 2015

1st Day Hikes Celebrates 25 Years

Adapted from a Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) press release:

Once again, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free, guided hikes in 11 state parks on New Year's Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.  Our Commonwealth was the first state in the country to develop the First Day Hikes program, which provides individuals and their families an opportunity to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

First Day Hikes originated in 1992 at the Blue Hills State Reservation in Milton.  The program was launched to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and to remind the public of the year round outdoor recreational access available at Massachusetts state parks.  In 2012, for the first time, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor America's State Parks First Day Hikes, which has become the signature nationwide program for the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).  Last year, over 997 First Day Hikes were held in state parks across the country and a record-breaking 41,153 people participated, logging 79,892 miles of hiking.

"Massachusetts has always been known to be at the forefront of pioneering concepts, and DCR is proud to have inspired state park systems across the nation to host First Day Hikes on New Year's Day," said Priscilla Geigis, DCR's MassParks Director and recent past NASPD President. "Every year the First Day Hikes have served as excellent opportunities for individuals and their families to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, and we are excited to continue that long standing tradition."

This year's event will also mark the beginning of the National Park Service's (NPS) centennial year.  The centennial is designed to celebrate the importance of all parks---national, state, and local---and to engage new supporters for continued shared stewardship for the next century.

America's State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.  From Massachusetts to California, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields, and prairies. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas, and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

Park staff will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles, or longer, depending on the state park.  Details about hike locations, difficulty, length, terrain, and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on DCR's website at  Hikers are also encouraged to tweet, post, and tag photos on social media using @MassDCR and #FirstDayHikes.

"Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit," said Lewis Ledford, Executive Director of NASPD. "Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you're staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America's State Parks on New Year's Day."

In Western Massachusetts, hikes will be offered at the following locations and times:

Mt. Greylock State Reservation at Noon
30 Rockwell Road in Lanesborough
Meet at the Visitor Center

Great Falls Discovery Center at 1PM
2 Avenue A in Turners Falls
Meet in the Discovery Center

Holiday travelers should check out to find hikes in all 50 states.


The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways.  Led by Commissioner Leo Roy, the agency's mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources.  To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit or contact

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