ULYSSES, N.Y. — On New Year’s Day, more than 1,000 people are expected to start their year with a healthy hike at Taughannock Falls State Park — the site of one of the biggest “First Day Hikes” in the country.
Led by park staff and volunteers, First Day Hikes are offered in every state, and last year an estimated 55,000 people started their New Year off by getting outdoors. Tompkins County’s local First Day Hike at Taughannock Falls State Park has drawn bigger and bigger crowds every year.
Last year, at least 875 people hiked the mile-long gorge trail that leads to Taughannock Falls. This year, even more people are expected. It’s hard to believe that in 2011 at the first First Day Hike at Taughannock Fall State Park, only six people attended.
The hike will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1, by the gorge trail off of Route 89.
The wide, flat gorge trail at Taughannock Fall State Park makes it a great spot for a crowd to hike. For people who want to do more than the short out-and-back gorge trail, the north rim trail to the overlook will also be open. Across from the overlook area, there are also multi-use trails to explore. Trails will be clearly marked and maps will be available.
“We’re trying to promote health and wellness for the New Year and just get people moving,” Josh Teeter, environmental educator at New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Having a big event like the First Day Hikes are a way to get people outside and exploring trails they may not have tried before, Teeter said.
Though some rain is expected in the morning between 9 and 10 a.m., the rest of the day will be mostly cloudy with a high of 44 degrees.
In addition to the First Day Hike, there are other events happening in Tompkins County to get people outside. The annual Ithaca Chill Challenge, a fundraising event for Ithaca Community Recovery, will begin at 1 p.m. at the Ithaca Yacht Club at 1090 Glenwood Rd., Ithaca. The event is similar to a polar bear plunge and last year raised $37,000 for the recovery community. The Christmas Bird Count is also taking place on New Year’s.
Guided hikes of state parks are available throughout the year. New York State Parks also offer guided First Saturday Hikes at different parks. They take place on the first Saturday of every month with the exception of January and May. For more information about guided hikes, email Josh Teeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-387-7041 ext. 131.
Below is a full list of the First Day Hikes in the Finger Lakes and Central New York region, along with contact information.
- Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park, Schenevus; 10 a.m.; 607.638.5421
- Bowman Lake State Park/McDonough State Forest, Oxford; 11 a.m.; 607.334.2718
- Camillus Forest Unique Area, Camillus; 10 a.m.; 315.376.3521
- Catharine Valley Trail, Watkins Glen; 10 a.m.; 607.535.4511
- Chenango Valley State Park, Chenango Forks; 1 p.m.; (2 hikes) 607.648.5251
- Clark Reservation State Park, Jamesville; 11 a.m.; 315.415.8377
- Delta Lake State Park, Rome; 10 a.m.; 315.337.4670
- Finger Lakes Trail, Corning; 9:30 a.m.; email@example.com
- Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego; 10 a.m.; 315.343.4711
- Gilbert Lake State Park, Laurens; 10 a.m.; 607.432.2114
- Green Lakes State Park, Fayetteville; 11 a.m.; 315.637.6111
- Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, Canadice; 10 a.m.; 585.374.8366
- Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Savannah; 10 a.m.; 315.365.3588
- Rogers Environmental Education Center, Sherburne; 10 a.m.; 607.674.4733
- Seneca Lake State Park, Geneva; 10 a.m.; 315.789.2331
- Taughannock Falls State Park, Trumansburg; 1 p.m.; 607.387.7041 ext. 131
- Two Rivers State Park, Waverly; 10 a.m.; 607.732.6287
To see photos and stories from First Day Hikes across the state, use and follow the Instagram and Twitter hashtag #nystateparks.
Featured image: File Photo of 2016 First Day Hike.