If you’d like to start the New Year by getting some exercise and fresh air, consider one of these First Day Hikes with family and friends (and don't forget to check out our New Year boating resolutions article!). Forty-one Virginia state parks welcome visitors of all ages January 1, 2024, for self-guided or ranger-led hikes as well as activities such as scavenger hunts, geocaching, or “Junior Ranger” programs. Find activities and downloadable trail maps at dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/firstdayhikes

first day hikes
Start the year off with one of these First Day Hikes! Photo courtesy of the Maryland DNR

While nearly all parks will be free, Natural Bridge State Park has a per person admission fee for access to the bridge that still applies. The $5 parking fee for trail access outside of the Natural Bridge is waived. Southwest Virginia Museum is closed January 1, although a hike is still planned.

Maryland State Parks will offer First Weekend hike opportunities across the state from December 31 to January 2, 2024. For 2024, there are two types of hikes available: ranger-led hikes with specific start times (many require pre-registration) and self-guided hikes on well-marked trails. Park staff and volunteers may be available to get you started but will not join you on the hike itself. You may find First Day Hike “I Hiked” Stickers at select locations while supplies last.

After your hike, visit the website (dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/firstdayhikes.aspx) to fill out the form to let the park service know about your hike and how many miles you covered​.

First Day Hikes are part of an initiative led by America’s State Parks that encourages all 50 states to offer outdoor hiking opportunities on the first day of the New Year. Although such activities are not always on the water, we at PropTalk approve of the outdoor, family-friendly vibe and encourage our readers to join the fun.