For Immediate Release - December 21, 2015

Massachusetts Celebrates 25 Years of First Day Hikes

Annual DCR Event has Become a National Initiative

BOSTON – Monday, December 21, 2015 – The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free, guided hikes in 11 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.  The Commonwealth was the first state in the country to develop the First Day Hikes program, which provides individuals and their families an opportunity to begin the New Year connecting with nature by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2016 at a state park close to home. Participating in a First Day Hike is a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

"First Day Hikes will provide an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to get outside and enjoy nature," said Governor Charlie Baker. "It's a great way to kick off the New Year and discover some of Massachusetts most exceptional landscapes." 

“For years Massachusetts citizens have been able to enjoy and take advantage of the First Day Hikes initiative, which provides an invigorating hike throughout many of the Commonwealth’s beautiful state parks,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration remains steadfast to providing outdoor recreational opportunities for the wellbeing and development of all.”

First Day Hikes originated in 1992 at the Blue Hills State Reservation in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the year and to remind the public of the year round outdoor recreational access available at Massachusetts state parks. In 2012, for the first time, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor America’s State Parks First Day Hikes, which has become the signature nationwide program for the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). Last year, over 997 First Day Hikes were held in state parks across the country, and a record-breaking 41,153 people participated and logged in 79,892 miles of hiking.

“For 25 years now, DCR has offered First Day Hikes as a fun, unique opportunity for people to get out and explore nature as part of a healthy lifestyle,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “We are honored to partner with states across the country in this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks.”

“Massachusetts has always been known to be at the forefront of pioneering concepts, and DCR is proud to have inspired state park systems across the nation to host First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day,” said Priscilla Geigis, DCR’s MassParks Director and recent past NASPD President. “Every year the First Day Hikes have served as excellent opportunities for individuals and their families to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, and we are excited to continue that long standing tradition.”

Additionally, on January 1, 2016, DCR officials will present the President’s Award on behalf of NASPD to Patrick Flynn, who started the tradition of First Day Hikes at the Blue Hills State Reservation in 1992 when he served as its supervisor. Flynn worked for DCR for 20 years until 2008; however, he still returns each New Year’s Day to participate in the annual hike at the Blue Hills.

This year’s event will mark the fifth anniversary of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative, and the beginning of the National Park Service’s (NPS) centennial year. In honor of the centennial, the NASPD invited National Park Service staff to participate in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes in all 50 states to kick off the year. The centennial is designed to celebrate the importance of all parks – national, state, and local – and to engage new supporters as we promote continued shared stewardship for the next century. The NPS participation on the first day of the anniversary year (January 1, 2016) will directly tie the centennial effort to America’s State Parks by highlighting the important connection between state and national parks.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Lewis Ledford, Executive Director of NASPD. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From Massachusetts to California, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas, and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

Park staff will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty, length, terrain, and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on DCR’s website at www.mass.gov/dcr. Hikers are also encouraged to tweet, post, and tag photos on social media using @MassDCR and #FirstDayHikes.

In Massachusetts, hikes will be offered at the following locations and times:

Boston Area:

Pope John Paul Park, Hallet Street, Dorchester, 12:00PM

Meet at the Hallet Street entrance. 

Hot chocolate will be available after the hike at the McKeon Post.

 

Central MA:

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, 1:00PM

287 Oak Street, Uxbridge

Registration begins at noon. Meet at the Visitor Center.

 

Northeast:

Bradley Palmer State Park, Asbury Street, Topsfield, 10:00AM

Meet at headquarters. Reception at Willowdale Estates following the hike.

 

Breakheart State Reservation, 177 Forest Street, Saugus, 12:00PM

Meet at the Visitor Center. Arrive early to allow time for parking.

 

Southeast:

Blue Hills State Reservation, Hillside Street, Milton, 12:00PM

Meet at the Houghton’s Pond parking lot at 840 Hillside St.

Free soup will be served at noon, hikes begin at 1:00PM.

 

Myles Standish State Forest, South Carver, 194 Cranberry Road, 1:00PM

Meet in the Parking Lot near Forest Headquarters, 12:30PM.

Nantasket Beach State Reservation, Route 3A, Hull, 10:00AM

Meet at the MJM Bathhouse at 204 Nantasket Ave.

 

Nickerson State Park, RTE 6A, Brewster, 1:00PM

Meet at the Main lot near entrance.

 

Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Waquoit, 1:00PM

Meet at the Visitor Center, 131 Waquoit Highway (Rt. 28).    

 

Western MA:

Mt. Greylock State Reservation, 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, 12:00PM

Meet at the Visitor Center.

 

Great Falls Discovery Center, 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 1:00PM

Meet in the Discovery Center.

 

Holiday travelers should check out www.naspd.org to find hikes in all 50 states.

 

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The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Leo Roy, the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.

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Visit The Great Outdoors blog.................................... www.mass.gov/blog/environment

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