Join a Free ‘First Day Hike' to Start the Year

America's State Parks will again host this nature-adoring, spirit-uplifting, year-starting adventure on the first of January

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STRETCHING A LEG... during the very first moments of the year? No one would suggest that you need to take a lengthy walk just after midnight on the first day of January, and, no, running some dirty glasses and dishes to the sink, after your party guests bid you goodnight, doesn't quite count. But enjoying a long ramble later on Jan. 1, in a place of leafy loveliness or cacti-filled splendor, just may be what you, your mind, your spirit, your resolutions, and your physical form is longing for (especially if you sat on a couch all New Year's Eve, chatting up guests). You can find your nearest park or pretty block, of course, to take your Jan. 1 jaunt. Or you can play a part in an invigorating tradition that's helmed by America's State Parks, an association that helps to "capture the collective strength and importance of the great state park systems developed in the 50 states." It's the...

FIRST DAY HIKES, those into-the-woods or onto-the-beaches rambles that are all about taking a few cleansing breaths while reflecting on what's gone by and what's to come, while also being near trees, water, birds, wildlife, and other contemplative humans. A First Day Hike is totally free, so no admission is required, and there are a number to choose from around the Golden State. "The guided First Day Hikes are led by knowledgeable state park staff and and volunteers," so you'll have someone at the lead who knows the area you're calling upon well.

WHERE TO GO, THOUGH? Some tempting 2020 hikes include the Pacheco Adobe Hike in Pacheco State Park, a gathering at Pismo Dune Preserve, and the Loop Trail at Crystal Cove State Park. Take a look at the map, then chat up your hiking buds, all while planning whatever New Year's Eve bash you hope to throw. But maybe you'll turn in early that night, in advance of your hike? Ponder those questions now as you find a great First Day Hike 2020.

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