First Day Hikes 2021: Choose your own adventure!

Trail 130 at Riverside snowshoe Lara Gricar

Get away from it all with a refreshing winter hike, snowshoe or ski trip this coming New Year's Day!

Dec. 16, 2020

At Washington State Parks, we always look forward to Jan. 1  and our First Day Hikes as the first steps toward a fresh start.

This has never been more true as we approach 2021 on the tail of an extraordinary and difficult yeFirst Day Hikes Pin 2021 Finalar.

First Day Hikes will be a bit different this coming New Year’s Day. Washington State Parks is concerned with the health and safety of our staff and visitors. Like many other states, we will not be offering First Day Hikes events this year to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But don’t let that stop you from getting out! Many state parks and Sno-Parks will be open on New Year’s Day. And remember, Jan. 1, is the first State Parks free day of 2021. That means you won’t need a Discover Pass to park when you, your family and /or household visit a park for the day.

We invite you to hold with (a slightly altered) tradition and get out for that hike, paddle, cycle, skiing excursion, snowshoe trek or horseback ride. These activities inspire renewed passion for outdoor recreation, which is good for the body, mind and soul. We are committed to keeping that spirit alive!

Two people riding bikes on the Klickitat Trail
A boy and a man look at a geocaching app on a smartphone in the woods.

Try a bike ride with a close friend this Jan. 1, like these cyclists (left) enjoying a roll along the Klickitat Trail. Or bond with friends and family over a fun geocaching hike (right)..

America’s State Parks, the organization behind First Day Hikes, asks park visitors to recreate responsibly, and so do we! Check out our responsible recreation guidelines, then grab your mask, and get inspired with some ideas for activities you can do on your own or with your small pandemic “pod.”


Self-led journeys

Try a new trail or peruse the interpretive signage to learn a little more about the places you visit. Look for a new park close to you,  or take a spin around an old, nearby favorite.

Check out these blogs for more inspiration on hikes both short and long:

Outdoor activities

Going hiking with the family or a few close friends this year? Try a fun activity while you explore! Nature journaling, birdwatching, and geocaching are just a few of the fun ways to engage bodies and minds while exploring the outdoors.

Check out these blogs for more fun activities to try:


 Take a tour through history and enjoy the river views with an easy hike at Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

Wintertime fun

What do we love about winter? Um…SNOW!

We know getting to go to play in the snow is a big part of the fun for many First Day Hikes enthusiasts! With any luck, we’ll have a good pack of it this Jan. 1, and our groomers are ready! Don’t forget you will still need to register your snowmobiles and get your Sno-Park permits when you go out to play on New Year’s Day. Motorized, non-motorized and snow play fun await at Sno-parks around the state.

Check out these blogs for cool winter fun destinations:

Laura Busby discuses Bats online during Spooktacular

Washington State Parks Interpretive Specialist Laura Busby discusses bats during a recent Facebook Live event.

Virtual activities

If the weather on Jan. 1 is too frightful for you to get outdoors, don’t worry, you don’t have to feel left out! This year, we have been innovating and adapting to the changes and challenges, too. The result? A variety of virtual opportunities for exploring Washington’s state parks.

We now proudly offer Facebook and YouTube presentations featuring our talented and knowledgeable interpretive staff. If you are interested in history, biology, geology and even the mysteries of the universe, you can tune in for free to our social media channels.

Tune in to our virtual opportunities:

And, as always, explore our blog for even more ways to discover the depths of Washington’s beautiful state parks.

Learn More

While Washington State Parks won't be offering First Day Hikes events Jan. 1, some of our Friends groups have some responsible recreation plans for New Year's Day. We will be sure to share those with you on our Twitter and Facebook pages. 

We at Washington State Parks wish you a glorious and safe New Year full of hope, peace and joy. We hope to see you in the parks and share a friendly, socially distanced wave! Meanwhile, here are more resources to help you enjoy a safe, healthy start to the new year!

Get a prescription for the great outdoors and make Washington State Parks a part of your new year’s fitness goals.
Resolving to get healthier in 2021? Learn more about our new partnership with the national Park Rx program and how you can get a prescription for nature!

Know before you go! 
Visit our great state parks partners such as the Washington Trails Association (WTA) and the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) to get trail updates and etiquette, safety tips and alerts and much more.  

First Day Hikes Buttons
A limited quantity of 2021 First Day Hikes buttons, featuring our Park's mascots in masks and pictured at the top of this blog, will be available at select parks for remote distribution. Inquire with park staff for availability. 

Share your First Day Hikes experience and photos!
Tag us on social media with #FirstDayHikes and #WAStateParks. Or use our blog story share feature and upload your pics and tales from the trails!

Happy New Year!

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