Celebrate The New Year With First Day Hikes At Connecticut State Parks

Are you looking to go outside and get more exercise? Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will help you start 2018 in stride with free, guided hikes at 13 state parks on New Year's Day.

Hikers enjoy a walk in the woods on New Year's Day at Osbornedale State Park in Derby.
Hikers enjoy a walk in the woods on New Year's Day at Osbornedale State Park in Derby. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa

It's part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative taking place in all 50 states.

The hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on Jan. 1 at a state park close to home. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our state parks,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “Whether you join a guided hike or venture out on your own, you will not be disappointed in the variety of hiking trails that our state has to offer. Connecticut has hundreds of miles of trails appropriate for all age levels to enjoy as we celebrate the first day of 2018.”

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes. 

In Connecticut, hikes will be offered at the following locations and times:

  • Chatfield Hollow State Park, 381 Route 80, Killingworth; 12:45 p.m., moderate, 2.5-mile hike
  • Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Rd., East Haddam; noon. easy hike for 45 minutes to an hour. Sponsor
  • James L. Goodwin Conservation Center, 23 Potter Road, Hampton; noon, moderate, two-hour hike, 2 to 4 miles
  • Haddam Meadows State Park, Route 154, Haddam; 1 p.m., easy, 2-mile hike
  • Hammonasset Beach State Park, 1288 Boston Post Road, Madison; meet at the Shoreline Greenway Trail parking lot at the east of the park entrance, 1 p.m., easy walk, less than one mile
  • Kellogg Environmental Center, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby; 1 p.m., moderate, 2.5-mile hike in Osbornedale State Park. 
  • Kettletown State Park, 1400 George’s Hill Road, Southbury; 1 p.m. moderate, 2-mile hike
  • Machimoodus State Park, Route 151, Moodus; noon, moderate hike, meet in the Machimoodus parking lot, 45 minutes to an hour
  • Mansfield Hollow State Park, Bassett’s Bridge Road, Mansfield; 11 a.m. (arrive by 10:45 a.m.), moderate, two hikes: 4.5 miles and 2.2 miles, meet in the Mansfield Hollow Recreation Area parking lot
  • Peoples State Forest, Matthies Grove Picnic Area, 106 East River Road, Barkhamsted; 1 p.m., moderately strenuous, 2.5 miles. 
  • Rocky Neck State Park, 244 W. Main St. (Route 156), East Lyme; 9:30 a.m., moderate, one-hour hike. This hike starts at Rocky Neck's historic stone Ellie Mitchell Pavilion, where a spotting scope will be set up from 9:30 to 10 a.m. for views of Long Island Sound. At 10 a.m., the hike starts. In the parking lot, a tree coring demo will take place. Hike appropriate for teens and over. 
  • Scantic River State Park, Melrose Road, East Windsor; 1 p.m., moderate, 2.5-mile hike, two hours
  • Sleeping Giant State Park, 200 Mt. Carmel Ave., Hamden; 1:30 p.m., difficult, 2.5- to 3-mile hike lasting two to three hours; will involve traveling over uneven, rocky terrain, possibly with a degree of rock scrambling. 

First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Mass. Last year, more than 55,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 133,000 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country.

“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to discover the tranquility and beauty of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health while exploring beautiful public lands in every state.”

Click here for more information on the DEEP-sponsored hikes in Connecticut, including contact numbers and weather cancellation info. 

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