Kick Off the New Year with ‘First Day Hikes’

Parks in all 50 states continue the tradition with free guided tours on January 1.

With 2016 fast approaching, it’s time to start planning those New Year’s resolutions. For folks looking to commit to any variation of getting fit or leaving the house more, there’s a chance to kick things off right on January 1.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is once again hosting its “First Day Hikes” event, a tradition that began more than two decades ago at Blue Hills Reservation in Milton and has since spread to all 50 states.

In 2016, the DCR invites visitors to 11 state parks, as close as Dorchester and as far as Lanesborough. Park rangers will offer free guided tours, with some parks offering dog- and kid-friendly options. A few will even dole out free hot chocolate and soup.

The DCR advises hikers to dress in layers and wear winter boots.

Ready to plan your New Year’s Day adventure? Browse locations in our map below, and then scroll down for exact tour times, meeting points, and other details.


Pope John Paul II Park, Dorchester, 12 p.m.
Meet at Hallet Street entrance. Hot chocolate will be available after the hike at the McKeon Post. No dogs allowed. 


Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, Uxbridge, 1 p.m.
Registration begins at noon. Meet at the Visitor Center. Dogs are allowed on a leash. Hot cocoa will be available at the River Bend Farm Visitor Center after the hike.


Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield, 10 a.m.
Meet at headquarters. Two hikes will be offered—one-mile and two-mile. Reception at Willowdale Estates will follow the hike.

Breakheart Reservation, Saugus, 12 p.m.
Meet at the Visitor Center. Three hikes will be offered—family-friendly, intermediate, and advanced. Arrive early to allow time for parking.


Blue Hills State Reservation, Milton, 12 p.m.
Meet at the Houghton’s Pond parking lot at 840 Hillside St. One-hour and two-hour hikes will be offered. Free soup will be served at noon, hikes will begin at 1 p.m.

Myles Standish State Forest, South Carver, 1 p.m.
Meet in the parking lot near Forest Headquarters at 12:30 p.m. The 2.5-mile hike will end with a warming fire and hot cocoa. A shorter walk will be available for families with children.

Nantasket Beach Reservation, Hull, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Mary Jeanette Murray Bathhouse at 204 Nantasket Ave. Hot beverages and light snacks will be available before and after the hike.

Nickerson State Park, Brewster, 1 p.m.
Meet at the main lot near entrance. Hot chocolate will be provided at the Park Headquarters.

Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Waquoit, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Visitor Center, 131 Waquoit Highway (Rt. 28). Dogs are allowed on a leash. Hot chocolate will be served after the hike.


Mt. Greylock Reservation, Lanesborough, 12 p.m.
Meet at the Visitor Center. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Enjoy hot chocolate by a roaring wood fire after the non-steep, two-mile, family-friendly hike.

Great Falls Discovery Center, Turners Fall, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Discovery Center. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Hot chocolate will be served after the hike.

Looking for more places to hike? Check out our list of 55 amazing New England hikes.