Several First Day Hikes today

NEW JERSEY. Free events planned in High Point, Wawayanda and Kittatinny Valley state parks.

Hewitt /
| 01 Jan 2024 | 08:26

New Jersey’s diverse landscapes will be on display Monday, Jan. 1 during free, guided First Day Hikes scheduled in state parks, forests and historic sites.

More than 30 hikes are planned statewide for people of all skill levels to connect with nature, discover local treasures, and boost their physical and mental health as they enter the new year.

“New Jersey’s state parks and forests boast thousands of miles of trails through a wide variety of ecosystems, from rocky and wooded hills to vast pine forests to coastal marshlands and urban green spaces - all ready to be explored with family and friends,” Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn LaTourette said.

“Led by knowledgeable State Park Service staff and volunteers, First Day Hikes offer an invigorating way to begin the new year by enjoying nature, getting some exercise and learning about the environment we share.”

The DEP’s State Park Service began participating in First Day Hikes after the program became a nationwide event in 2012. First Day Hikes began more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass.

All events are free; however, some require pre-registration and are weather-dependent.

• The First Day Challenge Hike in High Point State Park is considered strenuous. The first half of the six-mile hike covers a rugged section of the Appalachian Trail before returning on the easier Iris Trail. Hikers will meet at 10 a.m. at the Appalachian Trail parking lot along Route 23 in Montague, just south of the High Point State Park Office, 1480 Route 23. Children age 12 and older accompanied by an adult and dogs on a leash are welcome. Registration is required; please send email to or call 973-903-3496. The hike will be canceled if there is steady rain, heavy snow or icy conditions.

• The 39th annual New Year’s Day Hike hosted by the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee will start at 10 a.m. at Footbridge Park, 1 Footbridge Lane, Blairstown. The four-mile trail is cinder-based, which provides easy, level walking. Bring water. Children ages 10 and older are welcome as are leashed dogs. Registration required. Register on the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail Committee Meetup page. The hike will be canceled if deep snow, heavy rain or heavy snowstorm.

• A First Day Horse Ride is planned on the Sussex Branch trail. Bring your horse. Flat, easy rail trail loop. The ride will start at 11 a.m. all ages welcome as are leashed dogs. Rigs have permission to park by Warehouse Clearance at the Creamery complex. Park on left side of rear lot at Universal Plumbing Supplies Co., 45 Route 206, Augusta, behind QuickChek. Do not ride or park on grass. Dutch lunch at about 1 p.m. at Yetter’s Diner, 89 Route 206, Augusta. To RSVP, text Carolyn Moran at 845-667-2015.

• Join park staff in a 5.5-mile hike around Wawayanda Lake at 10 a.m. Meet at Wawayanda State Park, Beach Parking Lot, 885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt. Natural, moderate incline. All ages are welcome as are leashed dogs. Registration is required. Call the park office 973-853-4462 and leave a message. Registered participants will be notified if the hike is canceled.