New York State Parks Invites Public to Celebrate the New Year with First Day Hikes on January 1, 2015

Fourth Annual event encourages families to spend the holiday enjoying the outdoors, includes opportunity to explore newest state park.

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Long Island, NY - December 18, 2014 - The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) will sponsor 28 guided hikes in state parks and historic sites on New Year's Day, including one to introduce visitors to the newest state park – Buffalo Harbor State Park – as part of the fourth annual First Day Hikes program.

"What better way to welcome the New Year than by enjoying a hike with friends and family?" said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "New York features spectacular views and recreation year-round, and we invite everyone to start a healthy, fun tradition of spending time outdoors this January 1, whether staying close to home or discovering a new favorite destination."

The nationwide initiative championed by America's State Parks and the American Hiking Society offers the opportunity for participants to celebrate the holiday by creating memories and enjoying the outdoors.

Participants can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of the season and spectacular vistas, and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable guide. State park staff and volunteers will lead these family-friendly walks and hikes, which average one to three miles or longer depending on the location. Many hikes will be offering refreshments, and new this year, State Parks will provide pre-registered participants with free, commemorative fleece caps and First Day Hike stickers.

"First Day Hikes offer a healthy way for people of all ages to get outside and take in these beautiful natural areas," said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). "State Parks provide unique opportunities for visitors to experience historical and cultural areas, seasonal flora and wildlife alongside dedicated park staff and volunteers."

"We encourage families in cold-weather states to be prepared for First Day Hikes by dressing in layers, wearing hats and appropriate footwear. We also recommend all hikers bring along snacks and water for the journey," said Gregory Miller, president of American Hiking Society. "Many State Parks offer pet-friendly hikes on New Year's Day and families are reminded to maintain their dogs on a leash and keep their family pets sufficiently hydrated and fed."

On Jan. 1, 2015, 28 hikes are being offered at 27 New York state parks and historic sites. In addition to the opportunity to discover beautiful views of Lake Erie from New York's newest and first state park in Buffalo, this year's programs include seal walks, a commemoration of Rockland Lake State Park's 50th anniversary, history-themed hikes, pet-friendly treks, crossing the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge, and more. If weather conditions permit, some First Day Hikes may include snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain, registration requirements and additional information are listed at www.nysparks.com.

In New York, hikes will be offered at the following locations:

Western NY
Allegany State Park – Quaker; 10am; (716) 354-9101 x269
Buffalo Harbor State Park, Buffalo; 10am; (716) 549-1050
Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown; 1:30pm; (716) 282-5154
Letchworth State Park, Castile; 1pm – two hikes (younger children/older children); (585) 493-3600
Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls; 10am; (716) 282-5154

Northern/Central NY
Catherine Valley Trail, Watkins Glen; 10am; (607) 426-4015
Chenango Valley State Park, Chenango Forks; 1pm; (607) 648-5251
Clark Reservation State Park, Jamesville; 12pm; (315) 492-1590
Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego; 10am; (315) 343-1505
Glimmerglass State Park, Cooperstown; 1pm; (607) 547-8662
Point au Roche State Park, Plattsburgh; 11am; (315) 563-0096 or (315) 561-0189
Robert G. Wehle State Park, Henderson; 10am; (315) 938-5302
Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, Sackets Harbor; 11am; (315) 646-2321
Taughannock Falls State Park, Trumansburg; 2pm; (607) 387-7041 ext. 131
Wellesley Island State Park, Fineview; 1pm; (315) 482-2479

Saratoga/Capital Region
Mine Kill State Park, North Blenheim; 11am; (518) 827-8690
Moreau Lake State Park, Gansevoort; 10am; (518) 793-0511
Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs; 11am; (518) 584-2000 ext. 116
Schodack Island State Park, Schodack Landing; 1pm; (518) 732-0187

Hudson Valley
John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, Katonah; 1pm; (914) 232-5651
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Kerhonkson; 10am; (845) 255-0752
Rockland Lake State Park, Congers; 10am; (917) 579-0785
Taconic State Park, Copake Falls; 1pm; (518) 329-3993
Walkway Over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie/Highland; 2pm; (845) 454-9649

Long Island
Connetquot River State Park Preserve, Bohemia; 1:30pm; (631) 581-1072
Jones Beach State Park, Wantaugh; 1:30pm; (516) 780-3295
Montauk Point State Park, Montauk; 10am; (631) 668-5000