State Parks Celebrates the New Year with First Day Hikes across the state on January 1

Peoples State Forest

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes in 13 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative taking place in all 50 states.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2018 at a state park close to home.   First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.
“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our state parks,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “Whether you join a guided hike or venture out on your own, you will not be disappointed in the variety of hiking trails that our state has to offer.  Connecticut has hundreds of miles of trails appropriate for all age levels to enjoy as we celebrate the first day of 2018.”
In Connecticut, hikes will be offered at the following locations and times:
Chatfield Hollow State Park, 381 Route 80, Killingworth, CT, 12:45 PM, moderate, 2.5 mile hike
Meet in the parking lot on Route 80. Hike the Red/Ridge Trail outbound, and the park road on return. The Ridge Trail is rugged in areas, and not suitable for strollers. Bring snacks and water. Friendly dogs on leashes are welcome. Cancellation:  Hike will be canceled in extreme weather, and cancellation news will be posted on the by 10 AM.  Sponsor: Friends of Chatfield Hollow.  Website: Contact:  Beth Skudder, 203-253-9593 and Kathy Zandi, 860-575-8036.
Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Rd., East Haddam, CT.  The hike will begin at 12 noon. Meet at the Visitor’s Center.  Hike will follow the old rail bed, easy hike for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Sponsor: Friends of Gillette Castle.  Websites:  Friends of Gillette,
James L. Goodwin Conservation Center, 23 Potter Rd., Hampton, CT, 12 noon, moderate, two hour hike, 2-4 miles, foul weather (rain) cancels, light snow will not. Dogs on leash allowed.  Websites:  Contact: Jasper Sha,
Haddam Meadows State Park, Route 154, Haddam, CT, 1:00 PM, easy, 2 mile hike. Meet at the parking lot entrance. Walk along the Connecticut River, learn about the background geology, floodplain habitats, and human impact on landscape. If no snow, view site and learn about native plantings in the butterfly/bird/bee garden. Learn about the work of volunteers involved in invasive plant removal. Bring water, snack and snowshoes, if needed. Dogs on leash allowed.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Cancellation:  If bad weather, hike will be canceled. Check weather conditions for Haddam.  Website: Contact:  Cheryl Czuba and Gail Reynolds
Hammonasset Beach State Park, 1288 Boston Post Rd., Madison, CT, meet at the Shoreline Greenway Trail parking lot located east of the park entrance, 1:00 PM, easy walk, less than one mile. Led by Dr. Don Rankin and friends and will go along the Shoreline Greenway Trail. Don is a dynamic speaker and will share his knowledge of Native Americans and geologic formations. Sponsor: Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset Beach State Park.  Website: Cancellation: (203) 245-8743. Contact:  Don Rankin, Russ Miller,
Kellogg Environmental Center, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, CT, 1 PM, moderate, 2.5 mile hike in Osbornedale State Park.  Dogs on leash are welcome. Join us for a cup of hot chocolate back at the Center.  Awards ceremony at 3 PM for winners of the 2017 “Sky’s the Limit” Hiking Challenge.  Sponsor: CT State Parks & Public Outreach. Website: Cancellation:  Diane Joy,, (203) 734-2513.
Kettletown State Park, 1400 George’s Hill Rd., Southbury, CT, 1:00 PM, moderate, 2 mile hike. Meet at the trail head for Miller Trail. Drive into the park, take every right fork to the trail head. The Miller Trail wanders through a mixed woodland in the northern part of the park.  Should see a charcoal hearth site, views of Lake Zoar, erosion control devices, stone walls and a log bridge. Rain or 1” or more snow cancels. Bring water, snack, sturdy footwear, and a sense of adventure.  Dogs on leash allowed. Cancellation: (203) 264-9028. Contact:  Bob McGarry,
Machimoodus State Park, Route 151, Moodus, CT, 12 noon, moderate hike, meet in the Machimoodus parking lot, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Dogs on leash are welcome.   Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes and dress warmly. Bring water, a love of the outdoors and a picture-taking device. Sponsor:  Friends of Machimoodus & Sunrise.  Websites: Contact:  Friends of Machimoodus & Sunrise,
Mansfield Hollow State Park, Bassett’s Bridge Rd., Mansfield, CT, 11 AM (arrive by 10:45 AM), moderate, 2 hikes – 4.5 mile & 2.2 mile, meet in the Mansfield Hollow Recreation Area parking lot. Dogs on leash allowed.  Sponsor: Friends of Mansfield Hollow. Website:   Contact:  Ron Manizza, 860-428-3667
Peoples State Forest, Matthies Grove Picnic Area, 106 East River Road, Barkhamsted, CT, 1:00 PM, moderately strenuous, 2.5 miles. This loop hike will start on the Robert Ross Trail, turn onto King Road, and return on the Agnes Bowen Trail. Bring water. No dogs, please. Sponsor:  The Friends of American Legion and Peoples State Forests (FALPS). Website: Cancellation: Contact: Janet Bumstead, or (860) 882-9632.
Rocky Neck State Park, 244 West Main St. (Rt. 156), East Lyme, CT, 9:30 AM, moderate, one hour hike. This hike starts at Rocky Neck’s historic stone Ellie Mitchell Pavilion where a spotting scope will be set up from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM for views of Long Island Sound. At 10 AM, the hike starts and will traverse the Red Trail along the cliff overlooking the Four Mile River and end up at Tony’s Nose. It will proceed on the Red Trail and meet up with the White Trail that goes back to the parking lot and along Brides Brook where there is an opportunity to see a variety of birds. Over the footbridge and end up at the parking lot where a tree coring demo will take place. Hike appropriate for teens and over. No dogs, please.  Cancellation: 860-739-5471. Sponsor:  Rocky Neck State Park. Website: Contact: Chris Pimley,

Scantic River State Park, Melrose Road, East Windsor, CT, 1 PM, moderate, 2.5 mile hike, 2 hours, meet in parking area at end of Melrose Road off Broad Brook Road. Donations will be collected for the local food pantry (human and pet items). Dogs on leash welcome. Sponsor: East Windsor American Heritage River Commission.  Website: Contact:  Debbie Talamini,

Sleeping Giant State Park, 200 Mt. Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT, 1:30 PM, difficult, 2.5 – 3 mile hike. Meet at the bulletin board by the kiosk near the park entrance. The hike is expected to last two to three hours, and will involve traveling on various trails over uneven, rocky terrain, possibly with a degree of rock scrambling. Hikers should be in good physical condition. Dress warmly and wear comfortable, supportive shoes, with good traction. Snacks and water in a day pack are recommended. Advance registration is not necessary; however, minors must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Dogs are not permitted on the hike. Cancellation:  For hike cancellations or rescheduling, check the breaking news link at or  Sponsor:  Sleeping Giant Park Association. Website: Contact: SGPA Hiking Committee at
About First Day Hikes

First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 55,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 133,000 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country.
America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.
From Alaska to Florida, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies.   Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.
“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to discover the tranquility and beauty of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while exploring beautiful public lands in every state.”
Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park.  Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.  Visit to find a First Day Hike nearest you.

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