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First Day Hikes

Thank you to all that attended a First Day Hike on January 1, 2022!

nys forest ranger leading a first day hike

Thousands of New Yorkers celebrated the New Year in the outdoors with a First Day Hike at one of the many events across the state and nation.

DEC and State Parks invited New Yorkers to kick off 2022 by participating in one of the many hikes being held at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the Empire State.

The event options for hikes ranged from self-guided treks to staff - or volunteer-led hikes, with some locations offering multiple options allowing people the time and space to social distance while still enjoying nature's winter wonders. The walks and hikes were family-friendly, and typically range from one to five miles depending on the location and conditions.

See photos from this 2021's event on DEC's Flickr album and check out photos from previous hikes on Flickr.

Check out the list of First day Hikes hosted this year to help plan your next winter

Long Island

New York City

Lower Hudson Valley/Catskills

Capital Region/Northern Catskills

Eastern Adirondacks

Western Adirondacks/Mohawk Valley

Central-Finger Lakes

Rochester/Western Finger Lakes

Western NY

Long Island

Ridge Conservation Area

Town of Ridge, Suffolk County

Enjoy a 2.25-mile hike that 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.

person leading a first day hike

New York City

Mount Loretto Unique Area

Staten Island, Richmond County

Enjoy birding at Mt. Loretto Unique Area, which provides nature lovers with more than 200 acres of forest, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal shoreline on the southern shore of Staten Island.

Lower Hudson Valley/Catskills

Stony Kill Environmental Education Center

Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County

Take a two mile forest and field winter walk at Stony Kill Farm, starting at the Woodland Trail and up to the Verplanck Ridge to take in the views of Mt. Beacon and surroundings.

Meads Meadow Trail Loops

Town of Woodstock, Ulster County

Enjoy an easy Catskills 2-mile hike at Meads Meadow at Overlook Mountain Wild Forest.

Kelly Hollow Trail

Town of Middletown, Delaware County

Kelly Hollow is one of the most beautiful short trails in the Catskills with rocky streams and waterfalls. It has a combination of coniferous and deciduous forests with a lovely abandoned beaver pond near a lean-to at the top.

Overlook Mountain Fire Tower

Town of Woodstock, Ulster County

Enjoy a fun hike up to Overlook Mountain Fire Tower with a great view of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley. This hike is moderate to challenging, with an uphill for 2.5 miles and return hike 2.5 miles back down for an approximate 4-hour round trip.

Upper Esopus Fire Tower at the Catskills Visitor Center

For more information and registration: Catskills Visitor Center

Kick off the New Year by climbing the Upper Esopus Fire Tower on Saturday, January 1st, all who preregister can stop by the Catskills Visitor Center (leaves DEC website) to pick up a free pair of winter gloves after showing a staff person a selfie or a photo taken from the bottom or the top cab of the fire tower. Make sure to wear warm layers, hat and gloves, and sturdy hiking shoes are recommended for walking the trail and climbing the fire tower. Masks required when socially distancing isn't possible, and when in the top cab of the Upper Esopus Fire Tower.

Ashokan Quarry Trail

Meet at the Ashokan Quarry Trailhead (leaves DEC website) parking lot off Route 28A (look for signage about 0.2 miles after you pass the western Ashokan Reservoir Promenade Parking Area). This family- friendly, two mile trail has interpretive signage about the Catskills and the Watershed. Hikers pass by a quarry that was used in the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir in the early 1900s. A slight incline but relatively easy hiking brings you to a beautiful view of several Catskill Mountains including Ashokan High Point.

Biscuit Brook Lean-to

Ulster County

A moderate hike where the group will climb the ridge before descending again to the lean-to. Located 12 miles from Big Indian on Ulster County Route 47, the Biscuit Brook Trailhead offers access to the vast seclusion of the Big Indian Wilderness. This will be a moderately difficult hike with a 4-mile round trip.

Capital Region/Northern Catskills

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

Delmar, Albany County

Happy New Year! Start the year on the right foot with some outdoor fun. Take a hike on one of the various trails at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.

Eastern Adirondacks

Goodnow Mountain

Newcomb, Essex County (SUNY ESF Newcomb Adirondack Interpretive Center)

Prospect Mountain Hike

Lake George, Warren County

Prospect Mountain Trailhead is located on Smith Street in Village of Lake George. Parking is limited. If parking along Smith Street is full, hikers will need to find parking along nearby roads and walk to the trailhead. The pedestrian bridge over the Northway is metal grating and may be rough on dogs' feet. If dogs are brought they must be leashed. Trail typically has snow and ice at steep angles - hikers must bring appropriate footwear and traction devices such as microspikes or snowshoes with crampons. Wear and bring warm winter clothing and layers (might be windy and colder on top) as well as water and food. Cameras recommended.

Paul Smith's College

Paul Smith's, Franklin County

For information and registration (required) visit the Paul Smith's website (leaves DEC website).

Take a spin around Heron Marsh. You may catch glimpses of otters at play, birds checking back for the stash of seeds they carefully left behind last summer and/or tracks from other critters who have been out and about.

Western Adirondacks/Mohawk Valley

Rome Sand Plains

City of Rome, Oneida County

Follow the Wood Creek Trail (1.2 miles round trip) along the crest of a towering dune to the banks of historic Wood Creek at Rome Sand Plains Unique Area. The trail begins off a small parking lot on Hogsback Road. Visitors here are greeted by two informational signs which describe the geological formation of the sand dunes and the history of the east-west navigation on Wood Creek.

Winona State Forest

Town of Lorraine, Jefferson County

Explore Winona State Forest with snowshoes. Visit the Winona Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) buildings.

Central-Finger Lakes

Rogers Environmental Education Center

Visit Rogers Environmental Education Center for a range of trails and hike distances.

Rochester/Western Finger Lakes

Hemlock-Canadice State Forest

Town of Canadice, Ontario County

Take a guided hike for 3.6 miles along Canadice Lake at Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.

Western NY

Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center

Ring in the New Year with a hike through Reinstein Woods 292-acre complex of forests, ponds, and wetlands. Reinstein Woods offers a variety of opportunities to explore and learn about nature for families and people of all ages.

Swift Hill State Forest

Take a moderate hike approximately 3.5 miles at Swift Hill State Forest. Combination of dirt forest roads trails, and off-trail backcountry.

Tillman Road Wildlife Management Area

Take a guided hike at Tillman Road Wildlife Management Area. Enjoy a leisurely walk, stopping to talk about winter trees, watch a few birds, talk wetlands and their importance, invasive species impact. The hike will be 1.5 miles.