first day hike Taughannock Falls winter

First Day Hike: 10 New York State Parks to Visit on Jan. 1

Celebrate the New Year outdoors with a guided First Day Hike on Jan. 1, 2018! Visit each New York State Park event page for details on meet-up times and locations.

Many require pre-registration so they’ll have the right amount of staff and volunteers to make each hike a safe and memorable experience.

First day hike: Letchworth State Park Humphrey Nature Center
Humphrey Nature Center

1. Letchworth

Meet at the Humphrey Nature Center for all first day hike options.

Hike #1 – Families with younger children. Letchworth CSI – Who Done It?: Journey on a wooded loop less than one mile on nearly level terrain to observe frozen bogs and Trout Pond.

Hike #2 – Exploratory Walk. Winter Wander Between Ponds: Using deer trails and other paths, this 1 ½ mile journey explores the area between Trout Pond and Pine Pond.

Hike #3 – Families with older children. Exotic Trees from Other Lands and State & National Champions: Two-mile loop to Inspiration Point, the Glen Iris Fountain and Middle Falls with more than 200′ descent and 200′ ascent along trails, roads and stairs.

Hike #4 – Faster paced, longest hike. Winter Hike to View the Great Bend: Three or more mile outing to view the park’s deepest canyon from several vantage points along the Gorge Trail.

Event Details

First day hike: Taughannock Falls winter hiking
Taughannock Falls

2. Taughannock Falls

Meet at the start of the Gorge Trail by NYS Route 89.

Start off the New Year by making a healthy resolution you will love to keep: a breath-taking First Day Hike at Taughannock Falls.

Join the Finger Lakes Regional Educator for a hike down and back on the Gorge Trail!

If you are up for more of a challenge you can continue up to the Overlook on the North Rim trail, across to the Multi-use trails and then make your way back to the parking lot.

Plan on being outside for at least 2 hours (more if you hike all 5 miles), please dress for the weather, bring water and wear appropriate footwear.

Event Details

First day hike: Niagara Falls Winter NY USA Horseshoe Falls
Niagara Falls

3. Niagara Falls

Join us for an afternoon First Day Hike as we welcome the 1st day of the New Year at the falls! Stories will be told along the way in America’s oldest state park! Registration is required.

Event Details

First day hike: Hamlin Beach State Park
Hamlin Beach

4. Hamlin Beach

Hike 1 (10:00am, 3 miles): Devil’s Nose Hike: Join us for a quick paced hike to the new Devil’s Nose trail for the first time! We will enjoy lake views while learning some of the history of Hamlin Beach State Park.

Hike 2 (1:30pm, 1.5 miles): Yanty Marsh Hike: Join us on this family-friendly walk as we explore the frozen Yanty Marsh looking for signs of winter critters.

Event Details

Knox Farm State Park
Knox Farm State Park

5. Knox Farm

Start your New Year off right with an invigorating First Day Hike through Knox Farm and visit the park’s largest trees!

Registration is required.

Event Details

First day hike: New York State Parks Seneca Lake in Geneva
Seneca Lake

6. Seneca Lake

Meet at Shelter #2.

Join us for an easy First Day Hike along the water! This year we will be showcasing the new connection to the Cayuga-Seneca Canal Trail. We will be hiking to the far side of Rt. 96A and returning from there.

Event Details

First day hike: George Bridge Canawaugus Park Scottsville Genesee Valley Greenway
George Bridge

7. Genesee Valley Greenway Scottsville trail head

Ring in the new year with an easy, yet invigorating First Day Hike along the Greenway through both wooded and pastoral scenes, heading north from Canawaugus Park to Rt 383 and back.

Registration is required.

Event Details

8. De Veaux Woods

Start the New Year off with a First Day Hike through an old growth woods to the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail to view the Whirlpool and rapids.

Registration is required.

Event Details

First day hike: Old Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara

9. Fort Niagara

Join us for a First Day Hike to view the Niagara River and War of 1812 Cemetery, and to see the lighthouse and Old Fort Niagara from the parking lot (The Fort is Closed on New Year’s Day).

There will be a tour of the Officer’s Club to view the paintings and visit the museum displays. We will also travel to the site where the POWs were held during WWII.

Registration is required.

Event Details

Fort Ontario
Fort Ontario

10. Fort Ontario

This year’s First Day Hike is called “WWI and Fort Ontario.” Come enjoy a leisurely walking tour through the 75-acre reservation where hikers will be brought back to when Fort Ontario was General Hospital No. 5 during the Great War.

Fort Ontario guide, Corey King will point out where buildings use to stand during this time in Fort Ontario’s 263-year history.

Registration is required.

Event Details

Cold weather hiking advice from the American Hiking Society

Hiking during the winter can be fun as long as you prepare with these tips.

Dress in layers.

While it is perhaps nice to have a huge, fluffy parka on the ski slopes, it really isn’t practical for the trail. Instead, take several layers you can peel off or put on when you stop and go on the trail. Your base layer should be a wicking fabric that will pull your sweat away from the skin. Overheating is a dangerous threat since excessive moisture that isn’t allowed to escape can freeze and cause hypothermia. If you ever wondered why some of your jackets have zippers under the armpits, it’s to keep air circulating and prevent your clothes from getting wet.

Wear a hat!

Our heads are filled with oxygen-carrying capillaries which fuel our brains and consume one third of the body’s energy. During the colder months it is important to keep your head covered to maintain function and not lose precious body heat. You may want to bring a warmer/heavier hat for rest periods.

Keep your water bottle warm.

Whether you are at the campsite or on the trail, a foam sleeve like a koozie will help prevent the water from freezing in a bottle. Nothing warms your body or your spirits like warm liquid by a campfire. Boil water to take with you as you hike. Also, to keep water from freezing, keep your water bottle on the inside of your jacket – properly sealed, of course.

Wear sunscreen.

While this is most important if you are hiking in a snowy region, winter hikers often forget about the sun’s glare reflecting off of white snow.

Be prepared for shorter days.

As early as October, dusk settles earlier and more quickly than in the summer. Have a good idea of the usable daylight hours before going hiking. Always carry a headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries.

In addition to these tips and hints, remember to follow normal safety practices as well when hiking in the winter. Be sure of the gear you take with you and if you have any specific questions, ask a local outdoor expert so you can stay safe.

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Where is your favorite place for a first day hike?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


2 thoughts on “First Day Hike: 10 New York State Parks to Visit on Jan. 1”

  1. Last year’s pond hike in Letchworth was great. It was frigid but all the trees were coated with fresh snow. The Greenway Trail is kinda dull. Doing Hamlin this year.

    1. I agree the rail trails can be dull, especially in winter. I do love the intersection at Wadsworth Juntion of the Greenway and Lehigh Valley Trail. This time of year man-made elements win the day for most interesting! The bridges over the river on the LV in Rush and the Erie & Attica are nice landmarks. This hike goes north though. I wish I could go this year as I would also like to do Hamlin.

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