The Adventure: Seizing the First Day

People snow shoeing single file
January 15, 2016

First Day Hikes: You carpe-did it!

New Year’s Day 2016 was a gorgeous day across much of the state, and the First Day Hikes visitors to Washington state parks made the most of it. More than 30 parks across the state sponsored 39 hikes. Nearly 1,350 visitors joined in the fun—and fitness! Traveling on everything from foot to fat bikes to snowshoes, they covered more than 3,000 miles. Wow! Now that’s the way to start the year off right.

Our sincere thanks to all of the visitors, parks staff, volunteers and friends groups who made the 2016 First Day Hikes a success. We’re looking forward to a spectacular year here at parks and hope you are, too.
Check out some of the highlights from our First Day Hikes.
The Adventure...

Lake Sylvia State Park

The hike: Merry in Montesano! More than 200 visitors braved the cold and turned out to walk along the shores of Lake Sylvia on Jan. 1. Ranger Jim Schmidt led hikers on a two-mile trek through the tall trees. Along the way, they stopped to talk about the park’s history as an old power station and logging camp and discussed some of the native plant life. Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia (FOSLS) Volunteer Helen Hepp led a shorter walk through the woods. A master gardener, Hepp discussed the park’s plant life—including the kind you can eat! The FOSLS group provided a roaring fire and refreshments at the park’s cozy kitchen shelter following the hike.
Sunshine, smiles and walking for miles. Hundreds of First Day Hikers showed up at Lake Sylvia State
See it for yourself: Lake Sylvia is open year-round for camping, non-motorized biking and spectacular hiking. During fishing season there’s great angling too! Find out what this Western Washington forest has to offer here.

Mount Spokane State Park

The hike: Nearly four dozen hikers turned out in fuzzy hats and sturdy snowshoes for the First Day Hike at Mount Spokane State Park. Weather conditions were ideal as hikers marched up the mountain through the snow frosted forest along Trail 130. All but a small handful of hikers made it to the top of this four-mile, round-trip trek.

See it for yourself: In winter, Mount Spokane goes from mountain camping and hiking mecca to frosty wonderland. Snowshoe, Nordic ski or snowmobile to your heart’s content! Learn more about all this vast and beautiful Eastern Washington park has to offer here.
This hike is so delightful! Snowy conditions didn't stop the fun at Mount Spokane!

Pearrygin Lake State Park

The hike: A lucky baker’s dozen (13) turned out to Pearrygin Lake State Park not only to hike, snowshoe and play in the snow, but ride in it, too! For the second year, Pearrygin hosted a successful fat tire bike ride along the Rex Derr Trail. Fat tire biking at Pearrygin is a pilot program for State Park’s Winter Recreation. We hope to keep it going! Following the ride, guests enjoyed a barbecue and cocoa lunch courtesy of the MHRV Association and the Washington State Employees Credit Union, all on a sparkling winter afternoon.

See it for yourself: Pearrygin is another park that transforms into a snow lover’s paradise in winter. A Methow Valley gem on the shores of a sparkling high-desert lake, this park has great snowshoeing, snow hiking and now fat biking. Learn more here.
For the second year in a row, fat tire bike enthusiasts enjoyed a First Day ride at Pearrygin Lake S

Wallace Falls State Park

The hike: Twenty-one kids of all ages turned out to trek with Ranger Kevin Lease up the winding (and breathtaking) Woody Trail at Wallace Falls State Park. The prize? Spectacular views of Middle Falls, the 265-foot-high waterfall and crown jewel of the park. Was it fun? You be the judge, but they look pretty happy to us!

See it for yourself: Did you know that Wallace Falls State Park actually comprises nine waterfalls? Each one is a jewel. And with seasonal rain pumping up the volume, every fall is at its fullest and finest right now! With camping, boating, cabins and more, Wallace Falls is a vacation destination. Learn more about what this West Cascades park has to offer here.
Fall-ow that Ranger! Both the weather and the turn-out make for a great Jan. 1 at Wallace Falls.

Rockport State Park

The hike: Thirty hikers turned out for the five guided hikes at Rockport State Park. But the forest fun doesn’t stop on Jan. 1. Through Feb. 15 the interpretive staff will be leading the Deep Forest Experience hikes take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Stroll through the 670-acre park—a rare, old growth forest of ancient cedar, fir, hemlock and maple teeming with lichen and moss. Some of the Douglas-fir trees are 250-feet tall and more than 300-years old. Following the hikes, visitors can participate in a fun craft activity in the park’s Discovery Center, which also has interactive wildlife displays, books and games.

See it for yourself: With its serene, verdant and ancient forest, Rockport is a day-use park where you can find something unique and new every time you visit. Come discover this old growth forest wonder! Learn more here.
This hiker man is sporting a "beard" of Methusalah's beard lichen, native to coastal forest

Camano Island and Cama Beach State Parks

The hikes: More than 120 hikers turned out for a taste of the island life, Pacific Northwest style. Visitors learned about Camano Island’s past as a logging camp and took some gorgeous pictures of the Puget Sound on a rare cloudless day. The five dozen hikers who turned out for Cama Beach’s family-friendly hike toured the Al Emerson Nature Trail, a fun and fern-filled tour for kids (and parents too).

See them for yourself: Camano Island and Cama Beach state parks are popular for good reason. Not only beautiful, they have a lot to offer, from history to boating to premium-quality vacation accommodations at a bargain hunter’s dream price. Why not try them both? Learn more about Camano Island and Cama Beach at our website.
Sunshine on the sound! Visitors enjoyed a sparkling First Day Hike at both Camano Island parks.

Cape Disappointment State Park

The hike: The 35 folks who braved the cold, clear coastal weather were not disappointed! Cape Disappointment Interpretive Specialist Aaron Webster led visitors along the bluffs where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, down to the beach where they had a lesson on tides, waves and currents. Exercise for the mind and body and miles of beauty for the eyes!

See it for yourself: History, beautiful lighthouses, inspiring vistas and arguably some of the most dramatic weather and waves anywhere in the world. Cape Disappointment State Park is a Washington must-see! Learn more here.
Hike a little; learn a lot! First Day Hikers got a lot more than exercise at Cape Disappointment Sta

Deception Pass State Park

The hike: Frosty temps could not deter the 175 spirited hikers who showed up to enjoy a one-mile stroll through the park and out to Hoypus Point. The site of the old ferry landing Hoypus Point provided spectacular views of Mount Baker on the cold, clear New Year’s Day. The ferry landing is now defunct since the iconic Deception Pass Bridge was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

See it for yourself: Deception Pass is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Washington State Parks. With lakes, emerald forests, breathtaking views, iconic CCC buildings, abundant wildlife, dramatic cliffs and much, much more, it’s easy to see why. Learn more about this Whidbey Island wonder here.
Over the bridge and through the woods, Deception Pass drew a crowd of enthusiastic hikers on Jan. 1.

That’s just a small sample!

Dozens more parks drew hundreds more hikers. It was a great way to kick off the year here in Washington. And we were not alone! Parks in all 50 states participated.

According to the National Association of State Park Directors, almost 56,000 visitors across the nation started 2016 on the right foot by participating in free, guided First Day Hike Programs in America’s state parks. Participants covered more than 134,000 miles on more than 1,000 guided hikes, trots, canoe and bicycle trips, ski outings and more.

We hope you’ll keep the ball rolling and your feet strolling at your Washington state parks all year long! With more than 120 parks from which to choose, state parks offer more than hiking. Take in a concert, get married, visit an interpretive center, camp, rent a vacation house, play in the snow, drop your anchor in a marine park and much, much more!

Got a great First Day Hike story?
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