If one of your New Year's resolutions involves working out and getting outdoors, consider going on a First Day Hike on Jan. 1. The hikes scheduled at state parks in all 50 states are designed to expose more people to these lesser-known gems -- without going it alone.
Now in its fourth year as a national event, First Day Hikes in 2014 drew 27,000 people on 885 hikes from coast to coast, according to a statement from the National Assn. of State Park Directors.
Here's how it works: All the hikes are led by rangers, docents, naturalists or volunteers at their respective parks.
To find a hike near or far away, go to the First Day Hikes directory and enter a state in the drop-down menu. Each event shows mileage, meeting time, directions to the meeting point, parking, etc. Note that some hikes have age restrictions for children.
"State parks provide unique opportunities for visitors to experience historical and cultural areas, seasonal flora and wildlife alongside dedicated park staff and volunteers," Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Assn. of State Park Directors, said in a recent statement.
In California, 40 hikes are scheduled throughout the state. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of Julian has scheduled two hikes, both described as strenuous. One goes along the Borrego Mountain West Butte Trail, the other on the Alcoholic Pass Trail.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park north of Santa Cruz off Highway 1 will lead three hikes from one to eight miles through the lush stands of coastal redwoods.
Hawaii has just one hike scheduled: a moderate 1.5-mile hike along the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail on Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline in East Oahu. The trail leads to the park's historic lighthouse.
In Nevada, Valley of Fire State Park offers seven hikes through its stunning red-rock landscape about an hour's drive northeast of Las Vegas.