Events take place on the first “free day” of the year
Updated 2:30 p.m., Dec. 10, 2014 to add Fields Spring State Park.
OLYMPIA – Dec.10, 2014 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to celebrate the first day of 2015 with First Day Hikes, an event available at 27 state parks on Jan. 1.
In the spirit of the new year, Washingtonians are encouraged to start 2015 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. The more than two dozen participating state parks are offering guided hikes ranging from coastal beaches to lowland forests to the higher elevations of the Cascade and Selkirk mountains. Explore historic old military batteries, go snowshoeing, identify plants and fungi, ride a fat bike or take advantage of a number of other interesting outdoor activities.
January 1, 2015 is a State Parks ‘Free Day.’ Participants will not need to display the Discover Pass on vehicles in order to access state parks for the New Years Day activities.
“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.”
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. Since 2013, all 50 state park systems have participated in the First Day Hikes program. For more information about hikes across the country, visit www.americasstateparks.org.
Most parks will be providing refreshments, thanks to a donation from the Washington State Employees Credit Union and the Manufactured Home and Recreational Vehicle Association.
Hikes at Washington state parks are scheduled as follows. Participants of all ages are welcome, unless otherwise noted. Dogs on leash are welcome, unless otherwise noted:
- Beacon Rock State Park near Skamania: Ring in the new year atop Beacon Rock—a 2-mile roundtrip hike—with a commanding view of the Columbia River as a reward. Meet at 10 a.m. picnic shelter at the Beacon Rock Trailhead.
- 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.
- Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island: Take a 2-mile round-trip hike to Cranberry Lake. View birds, native habitat and check out the beaver dam. Meet at 1 p.m. at the shuttle drop-off center.
- Camano Island State Park on Camano Island: This moderate 3-mile hike will take hikers through a variety of scenery, including a view of the Olympic Mountains from the bluff. Meet at 1 p.m. at the kitchen shelter.
- Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco: This short 1-mile hike will focus on a historical tour of North Head and Bell’s View, with excellent views of the river, the ocean, coastal headlands and fog-enshrouded forests. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Lighthouse Keeper’s Loop Trail at North Head.
- Deception Pass State Park near Oak Harbor: Participants will have two hiking options: the shorter, 1.5-mile round-trip hike from the trailhead to a nice meadow near Pass Lake. Or, the longer, 3-mile round-trip hike to Ginnett Hill. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Pass Lake parking area.
- Fields Spring State Park in Anatone: Information coming soon.
- Fort Casey State Park near Coupeville: Learn about the fascinating history of this former coast artillery post, which features two 10-inch and two 3-inch historic guns on display on this ¾ mile walk. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the kiosk display board between the parking lot and Battery Worth (the two big guns).
- 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. 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.
- Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park in Ocean Shores: Take an easy 4-mile round-trip hike on the Ocean Beach Trail and learn about the plants, animals and geology found in the area, which borders the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Copalis National Marine Wildlife Refuge. Meet at 10 a.m. at the park’s picnic shelter. Please leave pets at home.
- Harstine Island State Park property on Harstine Island: Explore the different plant communities in two types of upland forests—a mature coniferous forest and a deciduous forest with younger trees—on this easy 2-mile hike. Meet at 11 a.m. at the main parking lot on E. Yates Road.
- Iron Horse State Park / Hyak Sno-Park near Easton: This gentle 3-mile roundtrip snowshoe tour is ideal for first-time or novice snowshoers. A sledding hill is also available at Hyak Sno-park. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Hyak Sno-Park. Minimum age: 10 years old. Dogs are not allowed on this trail in the winter. A Sno-Park permit* is required for this event and is available for purchase at the site.
- Lake Wenatchee State Park near Leavenworth: Take a scenic 1.8-mile snowshoe journey of moderate difficulty along North Lake Loop. Meet at 10 a.m. at the North Park Sno-Park. In addition to a Sno-Park Permit,* participants will also need a Special Groomed Trail Permit. Participants must be 10 years of age or older to participate. Please leave pets at home. Snowshoes are required.
- Larrabee State Park near Bellingham: Experience the park’s newest trail—the Rock Trail. View fascinating geological rock formations along this 4-mile round-trip hike. The trail includes more than 160 stairs. Participants should be prepared for some climbing. Youth 18 or younger should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Lost Lake parking lot. We will carpool from there.
- Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island: Bring the whole family for a 2.5-mile hike along the Lime Kiln Trail and take in the dramatic views of Haro Strait and Vancouver Island to the west. Weather permitting after the hike, participants can enjoy hot chocolate around the campfire and S’mores—if they bring the ingredients. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Interpretive Center.
- Millersylvania State Park: Discover 3.8 miles of old-growth cedar and fir forest along an old railroad grade that leads to beautiful Deep Lake. Meet at 9 a.m. at Kitchen Shelter #1. Please leave pets at home.
- 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. Snowshoes are required. A Sno-Park Permit* and a Special Groomed Trail Permit are required for vehicle access to this event.
- Nolte State Park in Enumclaw: This hike is perfect for the whole family. Take an easy 1.25-mile-loop stroll around Deep Lake and through the forested Green River Gorge. Meet at 10 a.m. at the main bulletin board.
- Olallie & Iron Horse State Parks near Easton: Hike to the top of Cedar Butte and learn about the events that led up to the Boxley Burst, a pre-Christmas flood in 1918 that permanently wiped out the logging town of Edgewick. The 3-mile roundtrip moderate hike climbs 900 feet in elevation. Minimum age for this hike is 10 years old. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Cedar Falls Trailhead in Iron Horse State Park. Dogs are not allowed on this trail in the winter.
- Pearrygin Lake State Park near Winthrop: Join the fat bike phenomenon with local fat tire bike enthusiast Sally Ranzau on this moderately difficult ride. Event will conclude with barbecue-style lunch after the ride. Bring a fat tire bike (rentals available in Winthrop). Meet at 10:30 a.m. at the east entrance to the park. We recommend leaving pets at home.
- Riverside State Park in Spokane: Take the swinging bridge over the Spokane River for a hike on the Bowl and Pitcher Trail. Participants will see the unique basalt rock formations cut by the Spokane River. 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.
- Rockport State Park in Rockport: Hike the 3-mile Evergreen Loop Trail through an ancient, 400-year-old-growth forest amongst towering Douglas-firs and red cedars. Hike is recommended for people age 10 and older. Meet at 10 a.m. at the picnic shelter across from the restroom.
- Saltwater State Park in Des Moines: Explore the legacy and influence of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which built much of the park during the Depression, on this easy hike on the shores of Puget Sound. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Interpretive Center.
- South Whidbey Island State Park near Freeland: Take a 0.9-mile walk with an interpretive guide on the Wilbert Trail. Children age 5 and older are welcome. Coffee, hot cider, water and cookies will be available before and after the hikes. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the ranger house.
- Twanoh State Park near Belfair: Discover Hood Canal in winter! Get a feel for the natural and cultural history of the park by hiking out on 2.25 miles of forested trail along Twanoh Creek and view structures built by the CCC. Meet at 10 a.m. at the campground.
- 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 10 a.m. at the Wallace Falls Trailhead.
- Westport Light State Park in Westport: Take an easy 2.6-mile stroll, guided by a ranger who will talk about the history of the area and provide some insight into the dynamic coastline. Children of all ages are welcome to join. (A 1.3-mile optional tour with a shuttle vehicle will also be available.) Meet at 10 a.m. at the park’s bulletin board.
More details about First Day Hikes are in our Adventure Awaits blog here: adventureawaits.com/2014/12/27-first-day-hikes-wa-state-parks/
* For more information about obtaining Sno-Park Permits, visit: adventureawaits.com/2014/12/27-first-day-hikes-wa-state-parks/
About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
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Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.
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.
Toni Droscher, (360) 902-8604
Virginia Painter, (360) 902-8562
Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service:(800) 833-6388