First Day Hikes for Jan. 1

by Cyndy Chanaca, CT-DEEP

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and America’s state parks will celebrate the New Year with First Day Hikes on January 1, 2016. The DEEP invites residents to rejuvenate by taking a family-friendly trek through a state park close to home

This year, DEEP offers the following free guided First Day Hikes:

Kellogg Environmental Center, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, 1 p.m., moderate, 2.5-mile hike of Osbornedale State Park. Sponsored by CT State Parks & Public Outreach. Contact: Diane Joy,, (203) 734-2513. Awards ceremony at 3 p.m. for winners of the 2015 “Sky’s the Limit” Hiking Challenge.

Hammonasset Beach State Park, 1288 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 1 p.m., easy, one-hour hike, meet at Meigs Point Nature Center. Sponsored by Friends of the Office of State Archaeology and Friends of Hammonasset. Contact: Don Rankin, (203) 245-9192

Mansfield Hollow State Park, Bassett’s Bridge Rd., Mansfield, CT, 11 a.m. (arrive by 10:45 a.m.), moderate, 2 hikes — 4.5-mile & 2.2-mile, meet in the Mansfield Hollow Recreation Area parking lot. Sponsored by Friends of Mansfield Hollow. Contact: Ron Manizza, 860-428-3667

Scantic River State Park, Melrose Road, East Windsor, 1 p.m., moderate, 2.5-mile hike, 2 hours, meet in parking lot at end of Melrose Road off Broad Brook Road. Sponsored by East Windsor American Heritage River Commission. Contact:

Sleeping Giant State Park, 200 Mt. Carmel Ave., Hamden, 1:30 p.m. (arrive by 1:15 p.m.), strenuous, 1 ½-hr. & 2 ½-hr. hikes, meet at the bulletin board by the kiosk. Sponsored by Sleeping Giant Park Association. Contact:

State park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park. For details on hikes in all 50 states visit America’s State Parks website,

“With seasonably cold and dry weather predicted for New Year’s Day — taking a hike with your family and friends is a great way to begin the New Year,” said Robert Klee, DEEP Commissioner. “Whether you join DEEP for a guided hike or venture out on your own, you will not be disappointed in the variety of hiking trails that Connecticut has to offer. Our state has hundreds of miles of trails ready for you as you celebrate the first day of 2016.”

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Lewis Ledford, NASPD’s executive director.  “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offers individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2016 at a state park. First Day Hikes provide a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

“Last year, we hosted 41,000 people who hiked 79,442 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes,” said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Last year marked the first time all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

CT DEEP joins America's State Parks in their commitment to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.