Go take a hike! No, really. You can start the new year on the right foot (literally) with guided hikes at many state parks and forests throughout Pennsylvania, including several in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
If you’re looking to start a new tradition or maybe kickstart your New Year’s Resolution to get outdoors more often, a First Day Hike is a perfect option. These free hikes are guided by staff and volunteers from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and they’re typically anywhere from 1 to 3.5 miles long.
Throughout our 13-county PA Wilds region, Black Moshannon, Cook Forest, Hills Creek, Kinzua Bridge, Lyman Run, Parker Dam and Sinnemahoning State Parks will all have hikes on January 1. Tiadaghton State Forest (Pine Creek Rail Trail) will also offer a guided hike.
The following state park is situated in the Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds, flanking the Commonwealth’s only national forest.
Start the New Year healthy! Visit the park for a First Day Hike on the General Kane Trail! The trail is an approximate 1.5 mile easy rated trail. Dress in layers for the weather and wear appropriate shoes/boots. Part of the trail is open to hunting, so please wear an orange vest and hat. Meet in the Overflow Parking Lot. For more info, click here.
The following state park is situated in the Cook Forest and the Ancients landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds, an area known for its old growth forest cathedral.
Join the Friends of Cook Forest at the Nuthole Pavilion, located at the entrance to Ridge Camp campground directly off of RT36, as we hike the Fire Tower Road loop. We’ll walk through several different forest types and cover some of the local history as we go. We’ll also take time out for a view from Seneca Rocks. The loop is a bit under 3 miles in length, and if conditions permit would be excellent for snowshoes or cross country skis. Friendly pets permitted on leash. Could last 2.5 hours. For more info, click here.
The following state parks are situated in the Dark Skies landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds, where visitors can view the stars within an internationally-certified dark sky.
A family nature hike with easy walking in search of signs of winter activity by animals, stream ecology, and winter tree identification. Meet at the Lyman Run lower campground parking area. For more info, click here.
Start the New Year on the right foot with an easy 2.5-mile guided hike on fairly level trails. Learn to identify common tree species as we scout for tracks and traces of the animals that live in the park. Hike will be held rain or shine. A limited number of snowshoes available if needed. Dress for the weather and bring water. Good for all ages. Well-behaved dogs on short leashes are welcome. No pre-registration required. Meet at Pavilion 1 in the 40 Maples Day Use Area. For more info, click here.
The following state park is situated in the Elk Country landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds, where visitors can find the largest wild elk herd in the northeast.
Come out for this 3.5 mile 1st Day Hike for 2023. Dress for the weather – bring water and snacks for extra energy boost. Friends Group may be providing hot chocolate after the hike. Meet in front of park office. For more info, click here.
The following state parks are situated in the I-80 Frontier landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds, which spans the entire southern width of the region.
Star Mill Trail Hike – Take a two-mile stroll on the Star Mill Trail while learning about the history of Black Moshannon State Park. Meet at Boat Launch #4 on West Side Road. For more info, click here.
Bog Treasure Hike – Take a hike on the boardwalk to see the unique plants and animals that call the bog home. Meet at Boat Launch #3 on West Side Road. This trail is ADA accessible and stroller- friendly, if there is not snow and ice at the time of this program. For more info, click here.
The following state parks/forests are situated in the Pine Creek Valley and PA Grand Canyon landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds, home of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
This slow-paced, family-oriented hike will be less than 1.5 miles in length. If conditions warrant, limited snowshoes will be available or you are encouraged to bring your own. Also, back this year, is the 5K Fun Run around the lake. It’s a no frills no cost run where you record your own time and have some fun challenging your friends to some healthy competition or just challenge yourself to healthy activity. Come early or stay late – the sledding hill is nearby or you can explore more trails or the plowed campground roads throughout the park. For more info, click here.
Whitetail Hike – Start your New Year and 2023 off right with a moderate, 2-mile hike on the Pine Creek Rail Trail! We will be starting at the Whitetail parking area and walking 1-mile north and then turning around and returning the same way we came, all the while looking for wildlife signs along the way. Program may be cancelled due to severe weather. Check with the office or Facebook page to verify. For more info, click here.
Waterville Hike – Start your New Year and 2023 off right with a moderate, 2-mile hike on the Pine Creek Rail Trail! We will be starting at the Waterville parking area and walking 1-mile north and then turning around and returning the same way we came, all the while looking for wildlife signs along the way. Program may be cancelled due to severe weather. Check with the office or Facebook page to verify. For more info, click here.
Why not start new holiday traditions in 2023 by taking your family and friends on a family-friendly First Day Hike at one of these participating Pennsylvania state parks?
DCNR announced it will host nearly 60 guided hikes in 34 state parks and three forest districts on New Year’s Day as part of the nationwide “First Day Hike” effort. Designed to promote a healthy start in the new year, these hikes offer families an opportunity to begin rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1.
“First Day Hikes are a great way to start the new year in natural spaces, which we hopefully will continue throughout the year,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “These hikes are also a reminder our state parks and forests are open for healthy outdoor adventures in all four seasons. I encourage Pennsylvanians, and those visiting for the holidays, to consider taking a hike and to make the time to connect with park staff and like-minded outdoors enthusiasts. Now is the perfect time to begin building meaningful bond with our public lands.”
State parks staff and volunteers lead the hikes, which are usually about one or two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain.
Hikers are invited to share their experience on social media using #FirstDayHikes. If you’re participating in a First Day Hike in the Pennsylvania Wilds, tag us too @thepawilds.
Additional details can be found on the DCNR Calendar website; click on Events, then select the “First Day Hikes” tab on the right.