Enjoy a healthy, outdoor experience on Jan. 1, 2017; no Discover Pass required on this first State Parks "free-day" of the year.
The public is invited to ring in the new year with "First Day Hikes," offered on Jan. 1, in any of 32 state parks all across Washington. The event allows families to get out and experience the diverse natural resources and recreation opportunities found in state parks.
State Parks rangers and volunteers will be on hand to guide participants through a diverse and dramatic range of landscapes and historic features, including coastal beaches, islands, waterfalls, lowland forests, historic military batteries, geological points of interest and more. Most participating parks will offer refreshments, thanks to donations from the Washington State Employees Credit Union and the Manufactured Home and Recreational Vehicle Association.
"First Day Hikes are a great way for families and friends to reconnect with one another and with nature," said Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director. "More than 30 Washington state parks will be offering guided hikes, snowshoe treks and fat tire bike rides to ring in the New Year. There'll be something for every fitness level and interest."
Washington was among the first states to participate in "First Day Hikes," a nationwide initiative organized by the National Association of State Parks Directors.
Currently, all 50 state park systems participate in the effort . For more information about the program and hikes being offered all over the country, visit www.naspd.org/initiatives-special-programs/first-day-hikes/.
Jan. 1 also is the first of 12 Washington State Parks "free days" taking place in 2017. Park visitors will not need to display the Discover Pass on vehicles to access state parks for the New Year's Day activities or for other state park visits on that day.
First Day Hikes at Washington state parks are scheduled as follows and listed by county. Participants should plan for winter weather and dress appropriately, including sturdy footwear. It is recommended that hikers also take along snacks and water.
For additional details about 2017 First Day Hikes, visit the official Washington State Parks blog, Adventure Awaits, at: http://adventureawaits.com/2016/12/first-day-hikes-2017/. The blog includes information about degree of difficulty for each hike, age appropriateness, whether pets are allowed, contact information and more. First Day Hikers also are encouraged to share their stories on the blog.
Information about this and other events in parks are listed on State Parks' online calendar at: http://parks.state.wa.us/Calendar
Grays Harbor Lake Sylvia State Park, Montesano: A park ranger will lead an easy 2-mile hike along the trail that loops around Lake Sylvia, a lovely lowland walk through old-growth forests. A volunteer from the Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia will lead a shorter stroll. Learn about the history of the lake area, and discuss native plants and wildlife. Meet at 1 p.m. at the park's kitchen area. (Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/Lb9pncWQBPL2)
Lewis County Lewis and Clark State Park, Winlock: Follow the Trail of the Deer path on this moderate 1.5-mile hike, while exploring the beautiful old growth forest in this park. Meet at 10 a.m. at the main entrance gate. (Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/km22scnLWS82)
Pacific County Cape Disappointment, Ilwaco: Join the park's interpretive specialist for a moderate 3-mile hike along the Benson Beach Trail to explore the wild coastline overlooking the Columbia River Bar. Learn how waves, currents and tides interact with this dynamic environment. Meet at 11 a.m. (Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/E77FeNmvqUv)