1st Day Hikes in Wisconsin State Parks on New Year’s Day

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR   

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds Wisconsinites that 2023 is right around the corner.

Those looking for a healthy, refreshing kick-off to the new year, can join one of the First Day Hikes happening at Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails, and recreation areas this coming January 1st.

First Day Hikes are an initiative from the National Association of State Park Directors to encourage active outdoor recreation on New Year’s Day. 

From Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Racine County to Straight Lake State Park in Polk County, First Day Hikes are scheduled near most corners of Wisconsin.

“Starting the new year by getting outside and being active is refreshing not only for our bodies but also our minds,” said Steve Schmelzer, DNR Parks and Recreation Management Director. “We invite everyone to a First Day Hike in the Wisconsin state park system as a great way to set the tone for the new year.”

Several properties offer one to three-mile hikes guided by property naturalists or local experts. These hikes have a specific start time and gathering spot. For beginner hikers or those new to visiting state parks, this is a great introduction to winter adventures. Experienced hikers are also invited to join in and share their knowledge with the hiking community. Some guided hikes are pet-free, so please check with the property.

Self-guided hikes are available for participants to choose their own pace or difficulty level, from nature trails to advanced routes. Property staff may offer maps and recommendations for those self-guided adventures.

Remember, it will be January in Wisconsin. Warm clothing, hats, gloves, and warm boots or insulated hiking shoes are recommended.

Some properties will have warming shelters open, along with opportunities to enjoy hot chocolate and other refreshments around a bonfire. Please check with the property to see which activities are available.

“Events like First Day Hikes bring together families and individuals, children and seniors, experienced hikers and those looking to dip their mittens into winter recreation. Our park staff is ready to help all visitors find a path that fits,” Schmelzer said.

First Day Hikes are free, but a Wisconsin state park admission sticker or a state trails pass may be required.

For details on First Day Hikes, visit the DNR’s event calendar and enter “First Day Hike” in the “TYPE” field. Hikers may drop in at any time during the event window. Events may be canceled due to weather.