Celebrate New Year’s Day with a Washington state park hike

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to celebrate the first day of 2014 with First Day Hikes, an event available at select state parks on Jan. 1.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to celebrate the first day of 2014 with First Day Hikes, an event available at select state parks on Jan. 1.

In the spirit of the new year, Washingtonians are encouraged to start 2014 with a healthy hike and connect with the diverse natural resources and recreation opportunities found at state parks across Washington on New Year’s Day. Fifteen state parks are offering guided hikes ranging from interpretive strolls through military batteries and Puget Sound coastal forests, to snowshoe walks in the Selkirk and Cascade mountains. The Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to the parks for the event.

“First Day Hikes are a great way for families and individuals to enjoy, appreciate and support their Washington state parks,” said Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director. “We’re thrilled to participate in this nationwide effort that encourages Americans to get outdoors from the very beginning of the new year. This is a way that families can create a new memorable New Year’s Day tradition.”

Hikes are Washington state parks are scheduled as follows. Participants of all ages are welcome, unless otherwise noted:

  • Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island: Discover winter flora and fauna on Camano Island, and enjoy views of Saratoga Passage during a 1.5-mile hike. Meet at the welcome center near the park entrance at 1 p.m. A free shuttle is available to return hikers to the Cama Beach State Park welcome center after the event.
  • Camano Island State Park on Camano Island: Hike on West Rim and Cross Island trails at 1 p.m. for a two-mile trek from Camano Island State Park to Cama Beach State Park. Meet at the Lowell Point kitchen shelter. A free shuttle is available to return hikers to Camano Island State Park after the event.
  • Deception Pass State Park in Oak Harbor: Participants have two hiking options at Deception Pass. Hike out to North Beach on Discovery Trail at 10 a.m. Then either return on the same trail for a two-mile hike, or continue to Goose Rock Trail for a view of Strawberry and Ben Ure islands on a three-mile trek. The hike starts at Cornet Bay Retreat Center; meet there at 10 a.m.
  • Ebey’s Landing State Park on Whidbey Island: Explore Bluff Trail at Ebey’s Landing State Park within the Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. Meet at 10 a.m., at the picnic tables just beyond the parking lot on the way to the trailhead. Participants of all ages are welcome, though small children may need assistance. On-leash pets are allowed.
  • Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island: Hike a full two miles along Bluff Trail, or enjoy a shorter, ¾-mile walk that includes views of North Puget Sound and historic military structures. Meet at 1 p.m. in front of the park museum. On-leash pets are welcome. The park museum is open on New Year’s Day.
  • Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend: Take a stroll up Artillery Hill and walk through multiple coastal defense bunkers for a 1.5-mile hike. Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the “Memories Vault. Those unfamiliar with the park may wish to arrive 30 minutes early and ask for directions at the Coastal Artillery Museum, located next door to the park office. Children ages 10 years and older are welcome. Those who want to explore the bunkers are advised to take along a flashlight.
  • Goldendale Observatory State Park in Goldendale: This event starts with an evening hike, followed by a stargazing session in the Observatory, led by the park’s interpretive specialist. Meet at 6:30 p.m. in the state park parking lot. Pets on leash are welcome.
  • Lake Sylvia State Park in Montesano: Hike along Sylvia Creek/Forestry Trail while learning about area logging history, wildlife and plant life. Meet at 1 p.m., at the day-use area parking lot. On-leash pets are welcome.
  • Lake Wenatchee State Park near Leavenworth: Snowshoe on North Lake Loop for a one-mile excursion of moderate difficulty. Meet at 10 a.m. at the North Park Sno-Park. A Seasonal Sno-Park Permit and a Special Groomed Trail Permit – or a One-Day Sno-Park Permit and Discover Pass – are required for vehicle access to this event. Sno-Park permits are available for purchase online at www.parks.wa.gov/winter. Participants must be 10 years of age or older to participate. Please leave pets at home. Snowshoes are required.
  • Millersylvania State Park in Olympia: Walk or run 3.8 miles of fitness trails through Pacific Northwest old-growth forest. Meet at 9 a.m. at Kitchen Shelter 1. Participants are asked to leave pets at home for this one.
  • Mount Spokane State Park in Mead: Snowshoe along Trail 130 for a 2- to 4-mile, round-trip hike. Meet at 10 a.m. at the snowmobile parking lot. A Seasonal Sno-Park Permit and a Special Groomed Trail Permit or a One-Day Sno-Park Permit and a Discover Pass are required for vehicle access to the event. (Purchase Sno-Park permits online at www.parks.wa.gov/winter/) Snowshoes are required, and pets are allowed, as long as they are on leash.
  • Nolte State Park in Enumclaw: Explore the forested 1.25-mile-loop around Deep Lake at this 11 a.m. hike through the Green River Gorge. Meet at the state park parking lot. On-leash pets are welcome.
  • Riverside State Park in Spokane: Take the swing bridge over the Spokane River for a hike on the Bowl and Pitcher River Trail. Participants will see the unique basalt rock formations cut by the Spokane River known as the Bowl and Pitcher. Meet in the Bowl and Pitcher Swinging Bridge parking lot at 1 p.m. Participants should be prepared for any weather conditions; snowshoes may be required. Pets on leash are allowed.
  • Twanoh State Park on Hood Canal: See the interior of a Puget Sound coastal forest on a 2.25-mile hike. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the park office in the lower parking area. The trail may be muddy; boots or weather-proof shoes are recommended.
  • Wallace Falls State Park in Goldbar: Hike on Woody Trail to Middle Falls for a 2.3-mile journey to multiple waterfall viewpoints. Meet at 11 a.m. at the Wallace Falls Trailhead. Pets on leash are welcome.

For more information about specific First Day Hikes at Washington state parks, visit www.parks.wa.gov/events.

The First Day Hikes program is part of the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes national initiative organized by the National Association of State Park Directors. The nationwide event first started at Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass., more than 20 years ago. The National Association of State Park Directors and America’s State Parks strives to promote and advance the state park systems of American for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy. For a second year in a row, all 50 state park systems are participating in the First Day Hikes program. For more information about hikes across the country, visit www.americasstateparks.org.

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks, www.twitter.com/WAStatePks, www.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks and www.foursquare.com/WAStatePks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.

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