first day hike Taughannock Falls winter

First Day Hike: 10 NYS Parks to Visit Jan. 1

Celebrate the New Year outdoors with a guided First Day Hike on Jan. 1, 2020! 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
First Day hike at Letchworth

1. Letchworth

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Hike Times Vary

Hike for Birds- 9am–10:30am: New Year’s Day birding trips are a tradition among many birders to start their annual bird list. We will explore a variety of habitats in search of many different species of birds. 1½ miles or less.

Hikes for Families- 10am-11:30am: This winter wander explores the forest between Trout Pond & Pine Pond. 1½ miles. 12:30pm-1:30 pm: Journey a wooded loop less than one mile on nearly level terrain near the Humphrey Nature Center, observing frozen bogs & Trout Pond. Less than 1 mile.

Hike to Learn- 1pm-3pm: A slower paced hike to Inspiration Point, the Glen Iris Fountain & Middle Falls with more than 200’ descent and 200’ ascent along trails, roads & stairs. This hike enjoys breathtaking views as well as state and national champion trees. 2 miles.

Hike to Hike- 11am-1:30 pm: This is a longer, faster paced hike to view the Park’s deepest canyon from several vantage points along the Gorge Trail. 3-4 miles.

Self-Guided Hike– 10am-3pm: Walk at your own pace through the woods on the proposed route of The ANT, a nature trail that will be uniquely suited to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and others with social and cognitive disabilities yet will enhance the visitor experience for all who walk the Trail. 1¼ miles.

Hamlin Beach State Park Yanty Creek Marsh end boardwalk
Yanty Marsh Boardwalk

2. Hamlin Beach

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
1:00 PM

Join us for an easy mile long hike along the shores of Lake Ontario, back to our Yanty Marsh Boardwalk, where we will learn about Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes. Event is weather permitting, hot chocolate and hot cider after back at Shelter 1.

First Day Hike: Taughannock Falls winter hiking
Taughannock Falls

3. Taughannock Falls

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Start off the New Year by making a healthy resolution you will love to keep: a breath-taking hike at Taughannock Falls. Join the Finger Lakes State Parks staff 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. We will meet at the start of the Gorge Trail by NYS Route 89.

First Day Hike: Niagara Falls Winter NY USA Horseshoe Falls
Niagara Falls

4. Niagara Falls

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
2:00 PM

Join us for an afternoon stroll as we welcome the 1st day of the New Year at the falls! Stories will be told along the way of America’s oldest state park! Dress for the weather, camera and binoculars suggested. Meet at the Goat Island Parking Lot #3 for this easy 1.5 Mile hike.

Pre-registration is required by calling 716-282-5154.

First Day Hike: Knox Farm State Park
Knox Farm State Park

5. Knox Farm

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
10:00 AM

Start your New Year off right with an invigorating hike through Knox Farm and visit the park’s largest trees! Meet at the visitor parking lot for this easy 1.5 mile hike.

Registration is required by calling 716-549-1050.

Green Lakes State Park tree roots water
Green Lakes

6. Green Lakes

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
10:00 AM

Join us for an easy 1.9 miles or 2.9 miles hike at Green Lakes State Park! Come explore the Environmental Education Center and learn why the lakes at Green Lakes State Park so special. Dress for the weather. Due to the possibility of large crowds, we will be offering self-guided hikes around one or both lakes (Green Lake and Round Lake). Be sure to stop back at the Environmental Education Center for some hot chocolate to celebrate a great start to 2020.

Erie-Attica Rail Trail bridge over Genesee River
Erie-Attica Rail Trail parking

7. Genesee Valley Greenway, First Day Ride, Avon

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
11:00 AM

Fellow snowmobilers! Ring in the New Year with your comrades on the Greenway’s First Day Hike Ride from the Avon area heading south to Cuylerville.

Pre-registration required! Please include number in party and hike location as there is more than one hike that day. Send email to: with “First Day Hike Regi” in the subject line OR Leave a message at: (585)493-3614

20-30 miles for snowmobiling // 2 miles for hiking

Meet Up Location: Erie-Attica Trail Parking Lot – State Route 5 to Farmers Rd. in Avon (42.922842, -77.756422)

8. De Veaux Woods

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
10:00 AM

Start the New Year off with a hike through an old growth woods and see what’s new at DeVeaux Woods State Park! Dress for the weather, camera and binoculars suggested. Meet at the Castellani Building for this easy 1.25 mile hike.

Pre-registration is required by calling 716-282-5154.

First Day Hike: Old Fort Niagara State Park Youngstown NY
Old Fort Niagara

9. Fort Niagara

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
2:00 PM

Join us a tour of the Officer’s Club to view the stunning murals and museum displays, followed by a walk to view the War of 1812 Cemetery, the lighthouse, and Old Fort Niagara from the parking lot. (The Fort is Closed on New Year’s Day.)  This easy hike is less than a mile. Preregistration is required.

New York State Parks Seneca Lake Geneva
Seneca Lake State Park

10. Seneca Lake

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Join us for a walk along the lakeshore with one or two interpretive stops! Meet at Shelter #2 for this 10am hike. Rain or shine, Refreshments provided.

Hiking snow

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 NYS Parks to Visit 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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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.