If you are looking for a reason to get outdoors on New Year’s Day, and the idea of a polar plunge doesn’t intrigue you, Washington State Parks might have a solution.
State parks across the state will host a First Day Hike on Jan. 1. Hikes will be offered at various times during the day at 28 parks.
“We’re thrilled to participate in this nationwide effort that encourages Americans to get outdoors from the very beginning of the New Year,” Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director, said in a statement. “This is a way that families can create a new memorable New Year’s Day tradition.”
The hikes are part of the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes national initiative organized by the National Association of State Park Directors. The nationwide event started more than 20 years ago. Since 2013, all 50 state park systems have participated in the First Day Hikes program. For more information about hikes across the country, visit americasstateparks.org .
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If taking part in a hike isn’t on your agenda, you still might want to visit a park near you. There will be no Discover Pass needed to visit a state park Jan. 1. It will be one of 12 fee-free days in 2015.
Hikers should wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots, and dress for the weather.
Here is a listing of some First Day hikes being offered at parks close to the South Sound:
FORT CASEY: 1:30 p.m. Take a 0.75-mile walk at the Whidbey Island park and learn about the history of the coast artillery post, which features two 10-inch and two 3-inch historic guns on display. Find out what life was like at the fort in the 1800s. All ages are welcome. Wheelchairs will not be able to reach some areas of the hike. Meet at the kiosk display board between the parking lot and Battery Worth. Difficulty: Moderate. Pets: Yes, on a leash.
FORT FLAGLER: 1 p.m. Hike 2 miles along Bluff Trail or break off part way for a 0.75-mile trek. Learn about the military structures and enjoy the panoramic view of North Puget Sound. The hike begins in front of the park museum. Difficulty: Easy. Dogs: Yes, on a leash.
FORT WORDEN: 12:30 p.m. Take this 1.5-mile guided stroll up to Artillery Hill and in and out of multiple coastal defense gun batteries. The hike is about 1.5 miles long. Meet at Memory’s Vault and bring a flashlight for visiting the bunkers. Kids ages 12 and older are welcome to join; those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Difficulty: Moderate. Pets: No.
GRIFFITHS-PRIDAY: 10 a.m. Take a 4-mile round-trip hike on the Ocean Beach Trail, and learn about the plants, animals and geology found in the area. Located on the southern edge of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Copalis National Marine Wildlife Refuge, the park offers visitors access to protected habitats sandwiched between the Copalis River and the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The hike begins at the picnic shelter. Bring a light day pack with water, food, binoculars if desired. Pets: No.
IRON HORSE-HYAK SNO-PARK: 9 a.m. New to snowshoeing? Here’s a great First Day Snowshoe trip. This is a gentle 3-mile round-trip snowshoe tour on a section of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Iron Horse State Park at Exit 54 from Interstate 90. Expect the hike to take a few hours. A sledding hill is also available at the sno-park. Minimum age: 10 years old. Dogs: Not allowed on the trail in the winter.
HARSTINE ISLAND: 11 a.m. Walk the Trail of Two Plant Communities, a 2-mile exploration of an upland forested trail. Walk through mature stands of coniferous trees and look at the plant communities the forest supports. Bring your plant and fungi identification books. Meet at the main parking lot on East Yates Road. Bring snacks and water if desired. Dogs: Yes, on a leash.
LAKE SYLVIA: 12:45 p.m. The park is a perfect place for lowland hiking anytime during the winter. Enjoy the idyllic lake setting and the old-growth forest trails while on the 2.5-mile hike along Sylvia Creek Forestry Trail. Meet at the day-use kitchen shelter. A second, shorter hike will be led by a volunteer. Hot beverages and snacks provided by the Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia and Washington State Parks. Difficulty: Moderate. Pets: Yes, on a leash.
MILLERSYLVANIA: 9 a.m. Discover 3.8 miles of old-growth cedar and fir forest that will take participants along an old railroad grade that leads to the lake as well as through a variety of ecosystems within the park. Meet at kitchen shelter No. 1. Bring water, snacks and a camera if desired. Pets: No.
NOLTE: 10 a.m. Walking along Lake Trail around Deep Lake is an easy 1.25-mile-loop that is a great pick for families. Start at the parking area along the trail. The hike will continue around the lake through the forested Green River gorge. Meet at the main bulletin board. Bring food and water Difficulty: Easy. Pets: Yes, on a leash.
SALTWATER: 9 a.m. Explore the legacy and influence of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built much of the park. Also learn the role the park played in forging a friendship between the rival cities of Seattle and Tacoma. Meet at the Interpretive Center. Difficulty: Easy. Pets: Yes, on a leash.
TWANOH: 10 a.m. Get a feel for the natural and cultural history of the park by hiking 2.25 miles of forested trail. You’ll see Twanoh Creek, structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and Hood Canal. The trail can be a bit muddy this time of year. Meet in the campground. Bring water, snacks and a camera. Pets: Yes, on a leash.
WESTPORT LIGHT: 10 a.m. Sometimes winter can be the best time of year to visit the ocean. Join this 2.6-mile hike at Westport Light State Park, guided by a ranger who will talk about the history of the area and provide some insight into the dynamic coastline. Travel to Point Chehalis and take in the sweeping views of Twin Harbors Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Children of all ages are welcome to join. A 1.3-mile optional tour with a shuttle vehicle will also be available. Meet at the park bulletin board. Bring water, snacks and a camera. Difficulty: Easy. Pets: Yes, on a leash. Weather might cancel this hike.