Like most, we’re looking forward to welcoming the New Year. Are you looking for a healthy and fun way to celebrate? Hikers across America participate in the American Hiking Society’s First Day Hike initiative and ring in the new year by spending the first day of the year in the fresh air of the outdoors.
Many State Parks offer guided hikes for this event, but no matter where you are, we can’t think of a better way to embrace fresh beginnings and welcome a clean slate than by basking in the beauty of nature.
Olympic National Forest
If you’re looking for the perfect base camp for Olympic Peninsula hiking, Quinault is an excellent choice. There are more than 15 trails located conveniently close to Lake Quinault Lodge, offering hiking options for hikers of all levels.
To start the New Year within the serenity of the rainforest, check out the Falls Creek Loop. The Falls Creek Loop trailhead is located right across the street from Lake Quinault Lodge. You’ll enjoy an amazing rain forest atmosphere, waterfalls, and streams. At less than 2 miles, this trail is suitable for younger hikers-in-training.
Asilomar State Beach
Is there any better way to start the year than with oceanfront views and salty air? The Asilomar State Beach and Coast Trail is accessible year-round and is suitable for various activities such as hiking, biking, running, and dog-walking. There are various gazebo viewpoints along the trail as well.
Asilomar Conference Grounds is a part of the California State Park System and is open to the public. Enjoy a latte at Phoebe’s Café (located in the Julia Morgan designed Phoebe Hearst Social Hall) before your hike.
Tahoe National Forest
Lake Tahoe is famous as a winter sports destination. Take a day off from the ski slopes at Heavenly, rent some snowshoes in town, and enjoy a snowshoe hike through Spooner Lake State Park.
The loop is flat and easy, and dogs can also join in the fun (on leash only.) The loop is just over 2 miles, allowing you to take your time and enjoy the winter scenery while you ponder the year ahead. If you’re visiting from out-of-town, Zephyr Cove Resort is an excellent lodging choice with cute (and socially distant) cabins with fully equipped kitchens.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a year-round hiker’s paradise, and because Yosemite Valley is at a lower elevation, there is likely to be less snow accumulation. Of the Yosemite Valley hikes, the Yosemite Valley Loop is fairly level, and because it is 11.5 miles in length, hikers are sure to find some peace and quiet to welcome in the new year. Hikers need not hike the entire length as there are many entry and exit points along the trail.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Once upon a time, Horseshoe Bend was a quiet spot known mostly to locals. Instagram has changed that and this amazing spot just outside of Page, Arizona is now one of the most “Instagrammable” places on the planet.
Winter is the quiet season at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, so the first day of the year may be a great time to enjoy the site with a bit more solitude than the busy summer months. It’s a short hike to the viewpoint, just 1.2 miles, but be sure to wear appropriate footwear as the trail can be quite sandy in spots. It can be quite windy on the edge of the canyon, so be sure to dress warmly as well.