Where in New Jersey can you take a New Year’s Day hike?

Nature lovers are invited to hike New Jersey’s state parks, forests, and historic sites on New Year's Day.

Hikers cross a stream in the forest.

Hiking lovers can hike across New Jersey's state parks and forrests on New Year's Day. (Courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection)

Nature lovers can celebrate New Year’s Day while hiking in one of New Jersey’s state parks, forests, or historic sites as part of the national First Day Hikes program.

The Garden State iteration will feature more than 40 guided hikes — the most in recent memory — that range from easy walks to strenuous trails. Last year, 248 hikers traveled 952 miles across 28 hikes in New Jersey.

All events are free, said Caryn Shinske, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“New Year’s Day for many people is a time of renewal. It’s people deciding, ‘I’m going to get more fit,’ ‘I’m going to get outdoors and get some fresh air,’ or ‘I’m going to walk,’” she said.

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“Maybe it’s an opportunity to spend some time in nature and just get to know your local environment. Maybe it’s just a time to be peaceful and to be quiet and commune with your natural surroundings.”

First Day Hikes began more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts, to promote healthy lifestyles and outdoor recreation. The program became a nationwide event in 2012.

New Jersey’s 2023 hiking locations include Belleplain State Forest in Cape May County, where participants can bring their dogs to hike, and eat treats around a campfire. Hikers can also explore Burlington County’s Wharton State Forest to learn about fire history and prevention during a guided hike from Batsto Mansion to Batsto Fire Tower.

A complete list of First Day Hike activities, and details on start times, how to dress, hike difficulty and length, age requirements, accessibility, whether dogs are permitted, and who to contact in case of inclement weather, can be found online.

Similar New Year’s Day hikes will take place in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

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