Easy New Year's resolution: Get outside on Day 1

December 22, 2012

Don’t the holidays already feature plenty of indoor events? There’s not much fresh air or room to run around. And if you’re among those who take “eat, drink and be merry” seriously, here’s a tip: get outside on New Year’s Day this year!

Make a New Year’s Day resolution to bring your family and friends to join an easy, guided walk in one of two, premier NH State Parks! You’ll jumpstart the New Year’s exercise resolution and perhaps create a whole new tradition. You’ll also be participating in just one of over 600 hikes being offered by America’s State Parks who launched the “First Day” hike program just last year in all 50 states.

This second year of the nationwide event is a positive, healthy way to welcome-in New Year’s Day. Here in New Hampshire, walks are being offered at both Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey and along the recently constructed “Little Harbor Loop Trail” beginning at the historic Wentworth-Coolidge mansion in Portsmouth. Phil Bryce, the Director of the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation is an enthusiast: “We’re excited to host First Day Hikes as part of the national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks. First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and to burn off extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks.”

The New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation hosts “First Day” in partnership with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and Eastern Mountain Sports. Registration for the event takes place from 10:00 am to 10:30 am in the Hiker’s Cabin at Monadnock State Park and in the Visitor’s Center at the Wentworth-Coolidge Historic Site. Participants may also pre-register online [link is no longer active]. Park staff and volunteers will lead one hike at each location averaging 1.5 to 2 miles in length and no more than 2 hours long and easy to moderate in difficulty. Guided hikes take place one time only during the day beginning at 10:45 am and ending by 1:00 pm.

The Little Harbor Loop Trail in Portsmouth connects the Wentworth-Coolidge Historic Site to the Forest Society’s Creek Farm Reservation on Sagamore Creek and to views of Little Harbor along the easy 1.5 miles route which takes approximately an hour to hike. Staff and volunteers will share information ranging from animal tracks, tree identification and interesting local history. Event coordinator, Diane Holmes is excited to add the Portsmouth “First Day” option this year. “I'm grateful to the organizations partnering with NH State Parks for the event. It's a great fit with the City of Portsmouth and showcases how organizations pool resources and share interests.”

The event at Mount Monadnock State Park includes a guided hike along the Parker Trail to its junction with the Lost Farm Trail. Depending on weather, trail conditions and hiker enthusiasm, there’s an option to continue to the “Little Mountain” scenic vista for views of the summit.

Those who prefer to experience the park and explore the trails at their own pace rather than with a guided hike are encouraged to visit during the event. All day-use fees will be waived for visitors to Monadnock State Park and the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion on January 1. Please remember pets are not permitted in these two parks. Complimentary healthy hot drinks and snacks will be offered as well. If free admission, healthy snacks and a guided walk were not enough, consider that the intrepid and adventurous staffers from Eastern Mountain Sports will be on hand to display a range of outdoor recreation gear while providing information and demonstrations for their use.

The staff and volunteers collectively responsible for making “First Day” possible hope you will join them, participate in a hike or explore on your own to enjoy the first day of a healthy new year. To learn more or to register for the event you can visit the NH State Park website and look for “what’s happening” and “first day hike” here: www.nhstateparks.org/whats-happening/first-day-hike.

To learn more about other hikes being offered nationwide as part of America’s State Park First Day efforts visit: http://www.naspd.org/first-day-hikes-in-americas-state-parks-offer-invigorating-start-to-new-year/

In the event of winter storms or unforeseen circumstances, cancellation notices will be posted on the State Parks webpage. Pre-registered participants will be notified via email.