Ready to put your best foot forward in 2018? State parks across America are offering free first hikes on New Year’s Day.
California State Parks will host more than 80 First Day Hikes up and down the state to help you and your family connect with the outdoors. Here are five to try.
Take the Palm Springs Tramway up to 8,500 feet in elevation ($25.95 for adults, $16.95 for children 3 to 10 years old) for a 1.5-mile moderate hike on Mt. San Jacinto. You’ll be hiking on the Desert View Trail, which features views of the desert floor and the Coachella Valley. It’s cold up there in January; make sure you bring water, food, warm and extra clothing, sunglasses, gloves and a hat. Meet at 11 a.m. at the top of the tram. Info: Mt. San Jacinto State Park & Wilderness, (760) 327-0222
Take a walk that explores dune and beach habitat at Asilomar State Beach near Monterey. Hikers will be led on a hike along a boardwalk in a natural dunes preserve and learn what’s special about this habitat. Expect ocean views on this hourlong hike too. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the flagpole at the Asilomar Conference Grounds (800 Asilomar Blvd.) Bring water and layered clothing, and wear comfortable shoes. Info: Asilomar State Beach & Conference Grounds, (831) 646-6440
Check out sandstone formations on a moderate two-mile hike at Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park in Chatsworth. This hike is easy to get to and a good introduction to a bit of L.A.’s wild backyard. Allow two to three hours for the guided hike on the Miranda Loop that begins at 11 a.m. at the park’s trailhead at 9955 Andora St. Wear sensible shoes (no flip-flops) and long pants, and bring water, sunscreen and a hat. Dogs on a leash are welcome too. Info: Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, (818) 784-4849
San Diego County
For those who are up for a New Year’s Day challenge, this hike is a toughie. The guided trek in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park near Julian climbs five miles to Stonewall Peak, where you’ll see vistas of the park and Lake Cuyamaca. Bring water, snacks and layered clothing, and make sure you have sturdy boots or shoes. You must be 16 or older to take this hike. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Paso Picacho day-use area in the park that’s off Highway 79, 50 miles east of San Diego. Info: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, (760) 765-0755.
Here’s an easy milelong stroll the whole family can do. Join this walk along Morro Strand South in Morro Bay State Park to learn about the geology and habitat of the area and which creatures call this place home. Bring a jacket and shoes you can get wet. Meet at the Morro Rock parking lot at 3 p.m. Info: Morro Bay Natural History Museum, (805) 772-2694