Washington State Parks invites the public to start the new year off with a First Day Hike on Tuesday, Jan. 1, at nearly 40 state parks across Washington. Some parks will offer more than one hike.
“First Day Hikes are a terrific way to ring in the New Year and enjoy the substantial beauty of Washington state parks in the winter,” said Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director. “The First Day Hikes will have something for every fitness level and interest, including guided hikes with rangers, snowshoe treks, fat bike rides and even a Puget Sound paddle.”
First Day Hikes will take place in a diverse and dramatic range of landscapes and historic features, including coastal and Puget Sound beaches, islands, waterfalls, lowland forests, lighthouses, geological points of interest and more.
Jan. 1 also is the first of 12 Washington State Parks free days taking place in 2019. Park visitors will not need to display the Discover Pass on vehicles to access state parks for the New Year’s Day activities or for other state park visits on free days. However, during the winter, some state parks require a Sno-Park permit. For more information about how to obtain a Sno-Park permit, visit: https://parks.state.wa.us/130/Winter-recreation.
Most participating parks will offer refreshments following the outings, thanks to funding from the Seattle RV and Puyallup RV shows.
First Day Hikes at Washington state parks are scheduled as follows and listed by county. Participants should plan for winter weather and dress appropriately, including wearing sturdy footwear. Snacks and water also are recommended. Parks requiring a Sno-Park permit are noted below.
- Fields Spring State Park: Take a 2-mile snowshoe hike with park staff as your guides. Learn about the area and its history. A limited number of snowshoes will be available to rent for $5. Meet at 10 a.m, Sno-Park permit required.
- Lake Chelan State Park: Hike 2.5 miles along the Little Bear Loop Trail through a ponderosa pine forest. Learn from rangers about the park’s unique position at the convergence of four ecological zones. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Lake Wenatchee State Park: Enjoy a guided 2.5-mile snowshoe hike along Lake Wenatchee’s North Lake Loop. Check with park staff for weather forecasts and to book larger groups. Meet at 11 a.m. Sno-park permit required.
- Bridgeport State Park: Explore this section of the Columbia River on a 45-minute walk with a park ranger. See evidence of the natural forces that shaped the area and learn what a haystack is before enjoying hot coffee and cocoa and snacks by the campfire. Meet at 1 p.m.
- Lincoln Rock State Park: Join a guided, 2-mile history hike that covers the area’s geology, the Rocky Reach Dam and the Rocky Reach Trail. Bring a camera for great shots of the dam and spillways! Meet at 11 a.m.
- Sacajawea Historical State Park: Take a staff-led interpretive hike and learn about the park’s flora and fauna, the Lewis & Clark expedition and the area’s Native people. Post-hike refreshments and prizes will be available. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park: Begin with a 40-minute tour of the Dry Falls Visitor Center with an overview of the Ice Age Flood National Geologic Trail, followed by refreshments. Then, take a 2.5-mile hike that loops through a winter wonderland of desert sagebrush and rolling shrub-steppe. Meet at 10:30 a.m.
GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY
- Lake Sylvia State Park: Join a park ranger on a 2-mile hike along the lakeside trail and through lowland forest, or take a shorter stroll with a Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia (FOSLS) volunteer. Cap off the walk with hot cocoa and cookies provided by FOSLS. Meet at 1 p.m.
- Twin Harbors State Park: Hike through a wooded area to a dune trail and the vast Pacific Ocean beyond. Learn about about the history of the area on this mile-long walk. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Cama Beach State Park: Join park staff for a 2-mile hike through the forest to Cranberry Lake, with its impressive beaver dam. Enjoy hot beverages in the Cama Center after the hike. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Cama Beach State Park: Take a half-mile hike on the bluff trail to the waterfront trail and warm up with beverages in the Cama Center afterward. Meet at 10 a.m.
- South Whidbey State Park: Turn a ¾-mile hike on the Forest Loop Trail into a scavenger hunt for kids of all ages. Find hidden gems in the forest and enjoy refreshments afterward. Meet at 2 p.m. South Whidbey State Park: Take to the Wilbert Trail for a 1.3-mile, park staff led hike through towering old-growth trees, and stay for refreshments afterward. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Fort Flagler Historical State Park: Bring a flashlight and check out Fort Flagler’s bunkers on this 2-mile walking tour guided by a historian. Most of the tour is ADA compliant and stroller accessible. Meet at 11 a.m.
- Fort Worden Historical State Park: Take a self-guided 2.5-mile hike that includes views of Admiralty Inlet and shipping lanes, Point Wilson lighthouse, the Cascades, Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains.
- Fort Worden Historical State Park: Meander for 2.5 miles through a forest canopy and past the fort’s historic and photogenic mortar batteries. Stop at Memory’s Vault, a sculpture garden with columns of poetry, and look for views of the fort from above. Meet at 1 p.m.
- Nolte State Park: Take an easy 1.25-mile stroll around Deep Lake in the Green River Gorge. Spot woodland animals on this family-friendly hike, and discuss forest and lake ecology with park staff. Meet at 10:30 a.m.
- Saltwater State Park: Saltwater’s First Day Hike is actually a First Day Paddle to the boundaries of the Marine Protected Area. Experienced canoeists and kayakers can enjoy the views from the water. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Scenic Beach State Park: Take in sweeping Hood Canal and Olympic mountain views on a mellow, ¾-mile hike with Ranger Steve. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Lake Easton State Park: Join a ranger-led snowshoe or hike (weather dependent) along the snowy shores of Lake Easton and in the surrounding forest. Enjoy snacks and hot chocolate in the day use area. Meet at 10 a.m. Sno-Park permit required.
- Lewis and Clark State Park: Spend a couple hours under towering cedar and fir trees strung with lichen and moss, strolling through a lush understory of ferns. Begin this family-friendly activity in the CCC kitchen shelter with a warm fire, drinks, snacks and a short presentation on the park’s wildlife. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Twanoh State Park: Walk the Twanoh Creek Trail for 3 miles from the beach, up the creek and among old and mature second growth trees. Bring binoculars to spot birds and wildlife. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Alta Lake State Park: Explore Alta Lake and Goat Mountain on a 2-mile hike. Discuss the geology of this glacially carved valley and the recent fire seasons with a ranger. Stay for hot coffee and cocoa and snacks. Meet at 1 p.m.
- Pearrygin Lake State Park: Try your hand at fat biking by bringing your own or renting a bike in Winthrop and heading to Pearrygin Lake! Ride through shrub-steppe on the Rex Derr Trail with views overlooking the lake. Those not into biking can do the trail on foot as well. Meet at 10 a.m. Sno-Park permit required.
- Cape Disappointment State Park: Hike the 1-mile Lighthouse Keepers Loop Trail with an interpretive specialist to learn the history of the North Head lighthouse and residence grounds, and tack on an optional extension on Bell’s View trail. Both trails afford excellent views of the Pacific Ocean, mouth of the Columbia River and Long Beach Peninsula. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Dash Point State Park: Take a 3-mile hike on the beach and through forests with Washington State Parks Foundation staff to learn about the park’s trees, plants and birds. Dash Point staff specifically encourage military veterans and their families to come and enjoy nature in a supportive setting. Meet at 10:30 a.m.
SAN JUAN COUNTY
- Moran State Park: Start a ranger-led hike at the south end of Cascade Lake, and crane your neck to see the tops of tall trees on the 2-mile walk to Cascade Falls. Meet at 1 p.m.
- Deception Pass State Park: Beginning at the Civilian Conservation Corps Center at Bowman Bay, follow park staff guides to Rosario Head for views of the Salish Sea and tide pools. Enjoy refreshments afterward, or get more trail time on a self-guided hike to Lighthouse or Lottie Point. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Rockport State Park: Two hike options include a ¾-mile, wheelchair-accessible trail and a 3.5-mile more rugged trail. Local fitness expert Valerie Stafford will lead a pre-hike warmup, and the Discovery Center will provide hot beverages and healthy snacks by the woodstove afterward. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Beacon Rock State Park: Take a ranger-led hike up the 2-mile Beacon Rock Trail for sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge. Then head for the Doetsch day use shelter to warm up by the campfire, roast hot dogs and marshmallows and drink hot chocolate. Meet at 10 a.m.
- Wallace Falls State Park: Join park staff at the Small Falls Interpretive Loop for an engaging, family-friendly 1-mile hike to learn about unseen biological processes, identify twigs and visit scenic Small Falls. Meet at noon.
- Riverside State Park: Walk 2 miles with a ranger and learn about the Ice Age floods and geologic rock formations on the Spokane River. Hear about the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built most of the park, including the majestic suspension bridge. Meet at 9:30 a.m.
- Riverside State Park: Hike 4 miles along the Spokane River amidst towering ponderosa pines and basalt rock formations in the Bowl and Pitcher area. Snacks and hot beverages will be provided at the trailhead. Meet at 9:30 a.m.
- Mount Spokane State Park: Take a 3.5-mile snowshoe to the historic stone Vista House at 5,883 feet for views of the Cabinet Mountains in Montana, Selkirk Crest in North Idaho and nearby lakes (weather permitting). Snacks and hot beverages will be provided at the trailhead and can be purchased at Vista House. Meet at 9:30 a.m. Sno-Park permit required.
- Mount Spokane State Park: Snowshoe west along the Lower Kit Carson Loop Road to Smith Gap and the snowshoe hut, through a cedar and hemlock forest, on this 2-mile loop. Snacks and hot beverages will be provided at the trailhead. Meet at 9:30 a.m. Sno-Park permit required.
- Millersylvania State Park: Enjoy old-growth forest, orchards, wetlands and lakeside views on this 2.5-mile ranger-led amble. Coffee and snacks will be provided before and after the hike. Meet at 9 a.m.
- Larrabee State Park: Walk with park staff along a forested trail with views of Bellingham Bay. Reach Fragrance Lake, and learn the history of Washington’s first state park. Make it a longer hike by strolling around the lake, or head back down the trail. Meet at 9 a.m.