HARTFORD >> The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection joins America’s State Parks and all 50 state park systems for free, guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day.

If weather conditions are questionable, contact the hike leader.

• Kellogg Environmental Center, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, 1 p.m., moderate, 2.5 mile hike in Osbornedale State Park. Sponsored by CT State Parks & Public Outreach. Contact: Diane Joy, diane.joy@ct.gov, 203-734-2513. Bring dogs on leash. Hot chocolate served back at the center. Awards ceremony at 3 p.m. for winners of the 2016 “Sky’s the Limit” Hiking Challenge.

• Hammonasset Beach State Park, 1288 Boston Post Road, Madison, 1 p.m., easy, one-hour hike, meet at Meigs Point Nature Center. Sponsored by Friends of Hammonasset. Led by two outdoor enthusiasts, the hike through Meigs Point trails will include searching for wintering birds and seals. Binoculars are suggested. No dogs. Contact Meigs Point Nature Center at 203-245-8743.

• Mansfield Hollow State Park, Bassett’s Bridge Road, Mansfield, 11 a.m. (arrive by 10:45), two moderate hikes: 4.5 miles and 2.2 miles, meet in the Mansfield Hollow Recreation Area parking lot. Sponsored by Friends of Mansfield Hollow. Contact Ron Manizza, 860-428-3667 pedlinron@gmail.com.

• Scantic River State Park, Melrose Road, East Windsor, 1 p.m., moderate, 2.5 miles, 2 hours, meet in parking area at end of Melrose Road off Broad Brook Road. Sponsored by East Windsor American Heritage River Commission. Donations of human and pet items will be collected for the local food pantry. Contact ahriver@sbcglobal.net.

• Sleeping Giant State Park, 200 Mount Carmel Ave., Hamden, 1:30 p.m. (arrive by 1:15), strenuous, 1.5 hr. & 2.5 hour hikes, meet at the bulletin board by the kiosk. Sponsored by Sleeping Giant Park Association. No dogs. Contact hike_the_giant@yahoo.com.

CONNECT WITH NATURE

On Jan. 1, all 50 states will be participating in the sixth annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with a guided outdoor exploration.

“First Day Hikes offer families the opportunity to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature on guided outdoor adventures,” National Association of State Park Directors President Domenic Bravo said.

“There are shorter options for families with young children, to longer treks for adventure seekers. State parks offer stunning views, unique cultural and historical experiences, and wintering wildlife for everyone to enjoy.”

“Taking a hike with your family and friends is a great way to begin the New Year,” said Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.

“Connecticut’s state parks are great to visit any time of the year, but there is something invigorating and special about being outdoors as you celebrate the first day of 2017.

“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.”

Participants are encouraged to share their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.

“America’s state parks provide havens for young and old alike to explore the beauty and serenity of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Director Executive Director Lewis Ledford said.

“Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while discovering beautiful public lands in every state.”

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.

CT DEEP joins America’s State Parks in their commitment to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks.

The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more.

With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 740 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.