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First Day Hikes

Thank you to those who attended First Day Hikes 2021!

woman and child in the woods

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the First Day Hikes program. Many New Yorkers across the state came out to lands, parks, trails, and other facilities to break in the New Year with a little fresh air and nature.

See photos from this year's event on DEC's Flickr album.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and requirements for safe outdoor recreation, the event options for hikes ranged from self-guided treks to small staff or volunteer-led hikes allowing participants the time and space to socially distance while still enjoying nature's winter wonders. New Yorkers are always reminded to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL while visiting the outdoors by recreating locally, practicing physical distancing, showing respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Check out photos from previous hikes on DEC's Flickr album.

*Please note that all photos shown below are from previous years' First Day Hike events.

Check out some of the locations from this year's event, and choose one near you to plan your own hike.

Previous hikes

Long Island

New York City

Lower Hudson Valley/Catskills

Capital Region/Northern Catskills

Eastern Adirondacks

Western Adirondacks/Mohawk Valley

Central NY

Rochester/Western Finger Lakes

Western NY

Long Island

Ridge Conservation Area

Town of Ridge, Suffolk County

Enjoy a 2.25-mile hike that winds 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 appropriately for winter weather.

New York City

Mount Loretto Unique Area

Staten Island, Richmond County

Mount Loretto Unique Area provides nature lovers with more than 200 acres of forest, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal shoreline on the southern shore of Staten Island. These habitats make it a beautiful area to hike and one of the best places to spot migrating birds in the area.

Lower Hudson Valley/Catskills

Tivoli Bays

Town of Red Hook, Dutchess County

Tivoli Bays extends for two miles along the east shore of the Hudson River between the villages of Tivoli and Barrytown, in the Dutchess County town of Red Hook. The Tivoli Bays site includes two large coves on the east shore of the Hudson River including Tivoli North Bay, a large intertidal marsh and Tivoli South Bay, a large, shallow cove with mudflats exposed at low tide. The site also includes an extensive uplands bordering Tivoli North Bay; sections of shoreline along Tivoli South Bay; Cruger Island and Magdalene Island, two bedrock islands with extensive subtidal shallows; and the mouths of two tributary streams, the Stony Creek and the Saw Kill. Several trails are located on the property, including part of the Hudson River Greenway and Empire State Trail.

Red Hill Fire Tower

Denning, Ulster County

Enjoy a 4-mile round-trip hike to the Red Hill Fire Tower from the newly constructed parking area on Denning Road.

Capital Region/Northern Catskills

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

Delmar, Albany County

hikers in winter

Five Rivers has more than 10 miles of trails for your enjoyment. See Exploring Five Rivers Nature Trails for more information about the trails, including distances and terrain.

Eastern Adirondacks

SUNY ESF Newcomb Adirondack Interpretive Center

Town of Newcomb, Essex County

Enjoy a hike or snowshoe on the 4-mile round trip trail up Goodnow Mountain. The Goodnow Mountain trail ascends approximately 900 feet over two miles and features gorgeous views into the high peaks from a 60-ft Fire Tower on the summit. Hike will take approximately 3.5 hours. *Please note that the fire tower cab is closed and off-limits, but visitors can still enjoy views from the fire tower stairs.

Western Adirondacks/Mohawk Valley

Rome Sand Plains Unique Area

City of Rome, Oneida County

Get outside and enjoy a hike at this Unique Area. The Rome Sand Plains is comprised of ancient sand dunes formed from the shorelines of glacial Lake Iroquois. One of just a small number of inland pine barrens in the world; this property is full of unusual geology and biological communities. Visitors can choose from several trails and trail loops ranging from 0.4 to 1.6 miles.

Central NY

Bowman Lake State Park/McDonough State Forest

Oxford, Chenango County

hikers in winter

Experience mature timberlands, wetlands, and old cultural sites at this property. This hike traverses both State Forest and State Parks property. Learn more about Bowman Lake State Park by visiting their website.

Rogers Environmental Education Center

Sherburne, Chenango County

The trail system consists of six miles of labeled trails. A two-mile system begins at the Visitor Center traversing a variety of habitats. Another mile of trails, located across the street from the main parking lot, winds its way up to the Farm Tower where one can enjoy a wonderful view of the Chenango Valley.

hikers in winter

Rochester/Western Finger Lakes

Montezuma Audubon Center

Savannah, Wayne County

Strap on some snowshoes or take a leisurely 1-mile hike through snow-muffled forests, across restored grasslands, and around the frozen marshes to explore hearty winter birds and look for signs of active mammals.

Western NY

Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center

Depew, Erie County

The trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Visitors are requested to sign in and out at the main trailhead kiosk and obey the posted rules. Interpretive pamphlets corresponding to the Lily Pond Loop, Footprint Trail, and Beech Tree Trail are available at each trailhead kiosk or inside the Environmental Education Center. Interpretive signs are found along the State Symbols Trail and History Trail. Benches are available on most trails.

Plumbottom State Forest

Town of Amity, Allegany County

Get off the beaten path and explore one of Allegany County's hidden gems, Plumbottom State Forest. Enjoy Phillips Creek, two ponds, and a scenic vista will be found along the way.