California State Parks invites the public to kick off the new year in a healthy way by participating in the annual First Day Hikes on Monday, January 1. This tradition offers a chance to revel in the great outdoors and enjoy the crisp, refreshing air while exploring some of California’s most iconic natural spaces.
This year, up to 60 state parks will participate, hosting over 70 guided hikes across the state. Whether you’re eager to wander through serene redwood forests, delve into the desert’s geology, or spot bald eagles and other unique wildlife, California’s diverse parks offer something for everyone.
First Day Hikes is part of a national initiative encouraging individuals and families to connect with the natural and cultural riches found in the great outdoors. These guided hikes provide a unique opportunity to experience the state’s beauty alongside seasoned guides, inspiring a lasting connection with these treasures throughout the year.
With over 70 guided hikes scheduled across California on January 1, the difficulty and distance vary by activity. You can find details about hike start times and descriptions on the First Day Hikes 2024 webpage. This year’s webpage is interactive, allowing you to search for locations by park name, county, and region. You can also check the hike’s status and the last time it was updated. Zooming in on the map will help you find hikes near your area.
Additionally, the webpage provides information about new hiking opportunities around the holiday. For example, Carpinteria State Beach will offer a hike on the morning of Saturday, December 30, and La Purísima Mission State Historic Park will have a Last Day Hike on the morning of Sunday, December 31.
Here are a few of the exciting hikes happening on January 1:
- Angel Island State Park: Embark on a 5-mile hike to the top of Angel Island’s Mount Caroline Livermore, passing through oak woodlands, chaparral, and wind-blown hillsides. Enjoy breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area: Instead of hiking, visitors can explore the western part of the park in their four-wheel-drive vehicle. This roughly 20-mile loop tour will take you through ancient seashore, mesquite dunes, and desert washes.
- Calaveras Big Trees State Park: Experience a snowshoe-guided hike through the park’s North Grove. Snowshoes will be available to borrow, and there will be an introduction to snowshoeing.
- Salt Point State Park: Take a 2.5-mile, three-hour, easy-to-moderate hike along the Sonoma coast from Gerstle Cove to Stump Beach, enjoying the pristine beauty of the area.
- Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park: Revel in spectacular views of the Simi Hills and the San Fernando Valley while learning about the Butterfield Overland Stage Route. The park offers four hikes of different lengths and difficulty.
Most of these hikes have parking fees, but those with a State Library Parks Pass or Golden Bear Pass can enter for free. Parents of fourth graders can also download the California State Park Adventure Pass, allowing free entrance to select park units. Learn more about these passes at parks.ca.gov/OutdoorsForAll.
As always, it’s essential to recreate responsibly and keep safety in mind. Check the status of the park unit you plan to visit before leaving home, especially regarding any restrictions and guidelines. Dress appropriately for the weather, bring snacks and water, and wear suitable hiking shoes. Remember to stay on designated trails, pack out all trash, and avoid disturbing wildlife and plants. For additional safety tips, visit parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.