First Day Hike in Nature: A Time for Family Reflection

Set The Tone for the Year: Connect with Nature!

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For many, New Year’s Day is a time for peace, quiet, and calmness. Though it’s the beginning of something new, it’s also a time to reflect on all that life brought during the past year in preparation for what’s soon to come. Luckily, New Year’s Day in western Massachusetts offers us a beautiful landscape within which to reflect. As 2019 begins, families can connect to the world around them by participating in facilitated First Day hikes or by exploring on their own through the chilly landscape.

Five Featured First Day Hikes

Make sure you dress accordingly and arrive early.

  1. Tuesday, January 1 at 10am-4pm in Lanesborough at Mount Greylock State Reservation. Self-guided hike and open house.
  2. Tuesday, January 1 at 10:30am in Granville at the Granville State Forest. Meet at the Park Headquarters. Warm up afterward with a fire and warm beverage.
  3. Tuesday, January 1 at 12noon-1pm in Windsor at Notchview. Guided snowshoe hike.
  4. Tuesday, January 1 at 1pm in Turners Falls at Great Falls Discovery Center. Meet in the Great Hall. Hot chocolate will be served following the hike.
  5. Tuesday, January 1 at 1-4pm in Amherst at Holyoke Range State Park. Meet at the Notch Visitor Center. Warm beverages follow.

Families who prefer a more personalized beginning to the new year can create their own adventure, using some of our winter tracking resources as a catalyst for nature-based discoveries. Additionally, families can make a game of learning to look closely at their surroundings using Mass Audubon’s winter installment of nature bingo, a 5″x5″ bingo-style card that requires players to find an assortment of interesting nature treasures to win. The winter bingo card includes things like feathers and acorns, as well as more difficult to spot things like animal burrows, birds’ nests, and evidence of woodpeckers. Unstructured family outdoor time can help to set the tone for the year – if your family intends to make 2019 a nature-filled year, then local exploration is undoubtedly where the year should begin. Read the rest of this entry »

First Day Hikes for the New Year

Setting Intentions on the First Day of the Year with a First Day Hike

The New Year is often seen as a moment of reflection and intention-setting.  While on your first hike, consider taking your journal with you.  Nature can be inspiring and provides a place for contemplation and meditation.  A few writing prompts to help you get started:

  • What is a new skill you would like to learn this year?
  • Describe one of your favorite memories from last year.
  • Make a list of the favorite places you visited in your community last year.
  • Make a list of places you would like to explore further this year.
  • What is a new skill that you learned last year?

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events to discover first day hikes to select for the first day of the year!

[Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield]


First Day Hikes in Western MA

DCR Sponsors First Day Hikes

“What better way to kick off the new year than with a hike at a state park?” said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Please join us outdoors on New Year’s Day.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free “First Day” family hikes in 14 state parks across the Commonwealth on New Year’s Day, as a way to connect children and parents with the great outdoors even – or maybe especially – in winter. Several will be here in Western MA.

First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views and vistas unimpeded by foliage. Wildlife that might be spied along these walks will almost certainly include song birds, turkeys and bald eagles. If you do see a Bald Eagle, remember that MassWildlife is holding their Midwinter Bald Eagle survey period right now through January 12, 2011. Everyone who is outdoors and sees an eagle during this time period is encouraged to report his or her sighting! You can send your report to Please provide the date, time, location, and town of eagle sightings, plus the number of birds, whether juvenile or adult, and your contact information.

If you’re lucky (and quiet), you might also catch sight of a red fox, moose, porcupine or fisher.  The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Pocket Guide to Animal Tracks can help identify which animals may have passed by.

DCR’s First Day Hikes in Western MA include:

The DCR advises that in preparation for each hike, pay close attention to the details of starting time and location. Dress warmly. Wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves. Binoculars always come in handy, and do bring water.

In the event of inclement weather, please call 617-626-1450 after 3 p.m. on December 31 for any possible cancellations.  All hikes will be led by park staff members and will last about two hours. Participants are urged to arrive half an hour early to register. For details, visit

Other (non-DCR) first day hikes:

  • 10am: First Day 2011 Hike with Williamsburg Woodland Trails at Bradley Sanctuary.  Directions here. 268-7523 Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

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