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First Day Hikes

Celebrate the New Year outdoors with friends and family!

Thank you to all that attended First Day Hikes 2019! What better way to kick off the New Year than by getting a jump start torching off those holiday calories in the great outdoors. There were over 500 participants this year! Check out some of the photos, with more to come!

First Day Hike at Mt. Loretto Unique Area
Photo Credits: Harold Hellman


We also have a listing of Great Winter hikes on our website, to showcase some other great spots to try on your own.

Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips and check out these other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

2019 Locations

You can click on the map icons to get more information.



Guided hikes on DEC's lands held on Tuesday, January 1, 2019:

Ridge Conservation Area from 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Town of Ridge, Suffolk County

RSVP to David Pomeranz
631-444-0347
david.pomeranz@dec.ny.gov

A 2.25-mile hike will wind its way through the 184-acre Ridge Conservation Area. The hike features 14 interpretive posts describing forest, grassland and pond habitats. The interpretive trail hike will provide scenic viewing locations and be completely guided. Please dress appropriate winter clothing. No indoor space available, but there will be bathrooms.

Mt. Loretto Unique Area from 10:00 - 11:30 AM
Staten Island, Richmond County

RSVP to Cliff Hagen
718-313-8591
chagen72@gmail.com

Meet in the main parking lot on Hylan Blvd. Enjoy a leisurely winter walk along the gentle slopes of the grassland trail. Visit the wildlife platform overlooking the freshwater ponds as well as the newly constructed Mount Loretto Pavilion overlooking the Raritan Bay. This one mile loop will offer good views of waterfowl, raptors and sparrows.

Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Visitor Center - formerly the Catskill Interpretive Center (Link leaves DEC website) from 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Mt. Tremper, Ulster County

RSVP to Olivia Bernard
845-688-3369
obernard@catskillcenter.org

Join us for an evening hike to ring in the start of the New Year.

Easy 1.5 mile hike and open to all. A great opportunity to try snowshoeing for the first time or just enjoy a casual evening walk in the woods.We'll hike just as the day turns to dusk, watch the light change, and finish with a campfire! Wear layers (preferably wool or polyester) and a small backpack with a bottle of water. Bring a headlamp if you have one, otherwise we'll provide extras. Waterproof shoes or boots encouraged. If there's snow - bring your snowshoes! Or call ahead for information on renting them locally.

Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower at 9:30 AM
Margaretville, Delaware County

RSVP to Laurie Rankin
845-926-2182
lauriejrankin@gmail.com

This First Day Hike, led by Laurie Rankin, NYS Director for the Forest Fire Lookout Association will begin at 9:30 am at the Dry Brook Ridge Trailhead, (the northern access point) on Millbrook Mountain Road. The 3 mile trail we will take is along the Observers jeep road and has a mix of level and steep sections. Please come prepared for winter conditions with plenty of layers, water, snacks, and appropriate footwear (to be determined the week before, could include snowshoes or microspikes). Along the way we will discuss the history of fire towers in NYS. At the summit, there is the restored fire tower and Observer's cabin. We hope to enjoy expansive views of the Catskill High Peaks and if it is clear, some peaks into NJ and Pennsylvania too. This is a family friendly hike. Children who are 6 years or older, well prepared and accompanied by a parent are welcome to attend.

Meads Meadow Trail Head from either 9:00am-11:00am and 12:00 noon - 2:00pm (Two Hikes)
Woodstock, Ulster County

RSVP to Ian Dunn
845-256-3083
Ian.Dunn@dec.ny.gov

Come explore the newly established trails in the Overlook Mountain Wild Forest. This First Day Hike, led by NYS DEC Forester Ian Dunn, offers 2 start times and will begin at the newly established Meads Meadow Trailhead on Macdaniel Road in Woodstock, NY. Hikes will begin at 9:00 am and 12:00 noon and should take approximately 2 hours each. Attendees are welcome to attend 1 or both hikes. This easy 2-mile hike will traverse the new blue marked Meads Meadow Trail, the yellow marked Overloop Trail, and the red marked Overlook Spur Trail Extension. Please come prepared for the cold, wear proper hiking boots, and bring water and snacks.

You have the option of a 9:00 am start time or a 12:00 noon start time as there will be 2 hikes. Please indicate in your reply which hike you plan on attending.

Kelly Hollow with the Catskill Mountain Club (link leaves DEC webpage) 10:30 AM
Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest
Margaretville, Delaware County

RSVP to Wendell George by December 30th
845-586-6273
wendell@catskillmountainclub.org

Meet at Kelly Hollow Trail Parking Area. Easy to moderate hike in western Catskills forest to a beaver pond and lean-to. Three miles, easy to moderate hike and will last approximately 3.5 hours. Please bring water, snacks, a good lunch, good hiking shoes, a traction device like microspikes, and snowshoes if needed. Hiking poles are recommended. Well behaved dogs welcome. Bring a leash for use when needed.

North South Lake Campground with the Catskill 3500 Club at 10:00 AM
Haines Falls, Greene County

RSVP to Heather Rolland
haliagrace@hotmail.com

Meet at the South Lake Dam Parking Area. Hike will start at South Lake dam parking area, and take the yellow trail around the lake to Alligator and Tyrannosaurs Rocks. The hike will continue to the Catskill Mountain House site providing some dramatic views of the valley. It's a family friendly hike that provides a lot of fun for all ages and abilities. If it is icy, please bring proper footwear and traction devices. Four miles (roundtrip).

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center led by Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club from 9:00 AM -11:00 AM
Delmar, Albany County

RSVP to Five Rivers
518-475-0291
5Rivers@dec.ny.gov

Join expert and beginner birders for the 38th annual New Year's Day bird survey. Choose a walk that suits your desires or sit inside and contribute to the count by observing feeders. Program is accessible to all. Binoculars are helpful but not necessary. Dress warmly. If severe weather is forecast, call the Center on Monday, December 31 to confirm if the event will be held. No pets.

Poke O Moonshine Fire Tower at 10:00 AM
Taylor Pond Wild Forest
Chesterfield, Essex County

RSVP to Tom Martin
518-897-1276
info.r5@dec.ny.gov

Meet at the Observers Trail Parking Lot on State Route 9 approximately one mile south of the old Poke-O-Moonshine Campground. Total trip length is 4.7 miles round-trip. Pre-registration required by 12/28. Limited to 15 persons. The Observer's Trail in the Taylor Pond Wild Forest ascends 1.9 miles and 1,280 feet from the trailhead off State Route 9 to the 2,162-foot summit with 360 degree views and a fire tower. Views from the summit include the Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and much of the northeastern Adirondacks.

This hike is weather permitting and may be canceled at the last minute. Depending on conditions snowshoes and/or crampons may be required. Participants must have appropriate winter gear. There are no indoor or heated areas for this hike. Bring a backpack with extra clothing (hat, gloves, jacket, etc.) and food and drink.

Prospect Mountain at 10:00 AM
Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway Day Use Area
Lake George, Warren County

RSVP to Ben Thomas
518-623-1268
info.r5@dec.ny.gov

This 1.5-mile hike climbs 1,630 feet from the trailhead to the 2,030-foot summit of the mountain. There you will be able to enjoy a 360-degree, 100-mile view which includes Lake George, Vermont's Green Mountains, New Hampshire's White Mountains, New York's Adirondack High Peaks and, on a very clear day, the Laurentian Mountains of Canada. Must pre-register

Must have appropriate clothing and footwear. Snow shoes or crampons required. Weather conditions may make this trail extremely icy and require additional traction. Bring water, snacks or anything else you may need for a hike. Pets are allowed, however there is a considerably long pedestrian walkway over I-87 at the beginning of this hike. The metal grate walkway may be unpleasant for dog's paws.

Winona State Forest, CCC Location at 10:00 AM
Lorraine, Jefferson County

RSVP to Keith Rivers
315-376-3521

The approximate trip length is 3 miles cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The 9,233-acre Winona State Forest is located on the boundary of southern Jefferson County and on the western edge of the Tug Hill Plateau.

Camillus Forest Unique Area at 11:00 AM
Town of Camillus, Onondaga County

RSVP to: Wiliam Lints
315-426-7418
William.lints@dec.ny.gov

Meet at 11:00 AM at the parking area on Thompson Road near Route 173 intersection. Total trip length is 2.7 miles looped trail with moderate difficulty. The Camillus Forest Unique Area encompasses 350 acres. It is approximately eight miles west of the city of Syracuse with elevations ranging between 400 and 710 feet.

McDonough State Forest & Bowman Lake State Park (link leaves DEC website) at 11:00 AM
Oxford, Chenango County

RSVP to Andrew Goeller
607-674-4036 X603
andrew.goeller@dec.ny.gov

Please meet at 11:00 AM in the pavilion parking area below the Nature Center of Bowman Lake State Park. Be ready to experience mature timberlands, wetlands and old cultural sites! The wood stove in Bowman Lodge will be going. The approximate distance is 2.5 miles with a level of difficulty as a range of both easy and moderate. Leashed pets are allowed and no fees will be collected.

Rogers Environmental Education Center lead by Bullthistle Hiking Club at 10:00 AM
Sherburne, Chenango County

RSVP to Marissa Nolan
607-674-4733
bullthistler@gmail.com

Start the year off with an invigorating hike through Rogers Center's beautiful trails! Chenango Bullthistle Hiking Club members will lead an excursion suitable for all levels. Meet at 10:00 AM in the main parking lot for a hike of 2 miles of easy to moderate difficulty, and longer if participants wish. Anyone under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration not required. This hike will happen in the cold, however, if there is a snowstorm it may be cancelled. Contact bullthistler@gmail.com to check the morning of the hike if you are concerned.

Rogers Environmental Education Center for a fun family-friendly hike. Rogers is dedicated to enhancing environmental awareness and appreciation of the natural world. It offers 600 acres of a variety of habitats for the walker, bird watcher, photographer, snowshoer, or cross-country skier. Trails traverse woodlands, meadows, wetlands, plantations, and farm fields. No dogs allowed.

Finger Lakes Trail with Finger Lakes Trail Conference (link leaves DEC webpage) at 9:30 AM
Corning, Steuben County

RSVP to Debbie Nero
dn13@cornell.edu

On January 1, 2019 Debbie and Laurie will lead a 5.5 mile long, dog-friendly First Day hike on the main Finger Lakes Trail and the Crystal Hills Branch Trail and will pass the lovely Moss Hill Lean-To where we will stop for a snack. This hike will be generally downhill! Depending on the weather we will hike or snowshoe. Please dress for the weather. Wear layers and hiking boots. Bring snowshoes, microspikes and hiking poles. In your day pack you should have water, snacks, dry socks, an extra hat and mittens.

We will meet at 9:30am at the intersection of Wixon Rd and Steuben County Rt 26 (town of Corning). We will carpool to the beginning of the hike at Dennis Rd/Van Fleet Rd (town of Bradford) where the FLT crosses the road.

Montezuma Audubon Center (link leaves DEC website) from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Savannah, Wayne County

RSVP to Alyssa Johnson
315-365-3588

Join Montezuma Audubon Center Staff as we ring in 2019 by strapping on some snowshoes and taking a leisurely 1-mile hike through snow muffled forests, across grasslands and out to the usually inaccessible Crusoe Lake to explore hearty winter birds and signs of active mammals. After the hike, warm up with a cup of hot cocoa in the Center! Fee: FREE! PRE-RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

Hemlock-Canadice with Springwater Trails Inc at 10:00 AM
Town of Canadice, Ontario County

RSVP to John Larysz
585-374-8366

Meet at the parking area off Purcell Hill Road, Town of Canadice. The trail will be easy to moderate difficulty. There are approximately 14 miles of marked hiking trails on Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. The trip length will be family-friendly and determined by participants.

Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center at 11:00 AM
Depew, Erie County

RSVP to Reinstein Woods
716-683-5959

Ring in the New Year with a one mile snowshoe hike led by a DEC Forest Ranger, who will discuss how to prepare for any outdoor adventure. We will hike even if there is no snow. Snowshoe rental: $5/$2 for Friends members.

Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center is located at the Dr. Victor Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve - a unique 292-acre complex of forests, ponds, and wetlands surrounded by suburban development. Reinstein Woods offers a variety of opportunities to explore and learn about nature for families and people of all ages. No dogs allowed

WAG Trail from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Town of Willing, Allegany County

RSVP to: Justin Thaine
585-415-1521
Justin.thaine@dec.ny.gov

Meet at the Hawks Road south parking area (42.001079°N, 77.878507°W, 3 miles east of the Shongo General Store) and walk to the Pennsylvania border and back (approximately 1 mile); for those who would like a longer hike, we can continue north on the trail to State Route 19 and back (approximately 3.7 miles total).

Level of Difficulty: easy, flat trail. Leashed dogs allowed, be prepared for weather with appropriate footwear and layered clothing, also bring water and a snack if desired. Pre-registration preferred but not required. Registration preferred, please call, text or email the number of attendees with "Registration " on the subject line. There are no bathroom facilities. Hike may be cancelled in the event of poor weather conditions.

Utica Marsh with a Trail Ambassador from NYS Canals
Utica March Wildlife Management Area at 11:00 AM
Utica, Oneida County

RSVP to Brian Moore
315-796-2849
Nationsox9999@gmail.com

Meet at the Wildlife Management Area/Harbor Lock Road. Join us for the kickoff of the First Day Hikes Program at Utica Marsh! We will be exploring the historic canal trail to the unique urban Utica Marsh. This is appropriate a 2.2 mile walk/hike where you can get some good exercise and enjoy the beauty of what nature has to offer. The hike is suitable for all ages and is kid friendly. A total of 2.2 mile round-trip from the parking area to the Utica Marsh Observatory's Tower. Pets welcome!