The increasingly popular First Day Hike tradition

The best way to endure the affronts of cold and snow, in the opinion of this ardent winter walker, is to acclimate. Fear not the sub-freezing and let it have its salubrious way with your adaptive core systems. Get comfortable at 15 degrees and 30 will feel like SoCal. We are hardly alone in this opinion. The increasingly popular New York First Day Hike tradition is finding a willing population in the wintery Hudson Valley as well as new public trails to exploit every year.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation invite New Yorkers to celebrate the New Year at one of the more than 75 hikes being held at parks across the Empire State as part of the ninth annual First Day Hikes program on January 1.

Consider these local opportunities:

Meads Meadow Loop (DEC), Woodstock, NY, 9 a.m. & noon


Led by DEC forester Ian Dunn, this First Day Hike offers two start times and will begin at the newly established Meads Meadow Trailhead on Macdaniel Road in Woodstock. Each hike takes approximately two hours. This easy two-mile trek will cover the new blue-marked Meads Meadow Trail, the yellow-marked Overloop Trail, and the red-marked Overlook Spur Trail Extension. Come prepared for the cold, wear proper hiking boots, and bring water and snacks. Registration is required. For information and registration, call Ian Dunn at (845) 256-3083 or email him at

Ashokan Rail Trail DEC), West Hurley Trailhead, 1285 NY-28, 10 a.m.

Hike the beautiful Ashokan Rail Trail, walking to its Glenford Dike, and enjoy expansive views of the reservoir. This is an easy round-trip hike of approximately two miles. It will be canceled if it’s raining or snowing, or if there are more than three inches of snow on the ground. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a parent, and leashed pets are not allowed. To register (required) or get more information, contact Maxanne Resnick, Executive Director, Woodstock Land Conservancy at or (914) 466-9263.

Waterfall Hike, Minnewaska State Part, New Paltz, 1 p.m.

This two-and-a-half-mile snowshoe hike to Awosting Falls starts from the Peter’s Kill Area. Participants will hike briefly on the Awosting Falls Connector Footpath and then journey up the scenic Awosting Falls Carriage Road, which has a gentle incline as it approaches the falls. If weather conditions are cold enough, a frozen volcano-like structure forms at the base of the waterfall. A limited number of snowshoes are available for participants to borrow for this program from the education department, located at the Peter’s Kill Area. When these run out, snowshoes may be rented for $5 per person. If there is insufficient snow cover, this program will be offered as a hike. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. Pre-registration is required by calling Minnewaska at (845) 255-0752.

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, 2 p.m.

Participants in this easy one- to three-mile hike will meet at the center bump out on the Walkway at the flag pole. Parking is available on both the Highland and Poughkeepsie sides.

First Day Hike at Sam’s Point, 400 Sam’s Point Rd, Cragsmoor, 1 p.m.

This three-mile showshoe trek hits scenic points within the park. Snowshoes may be rented for this program for a fee of $5 per person. If there is insufficient snow cover, this program will be offered as a hike.  Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. Meet at the Sam’s Point Visitor Center. Pre-registration is required by calling Sam’s Point at (845) 647-7989.

Olana State Historic Site, 5720 NY-9G, Hudson, 11 a.m.

This easy one-mile hike starts at 11 a.m. at the Museum Visitors Center. This landscape walk along Olana’s upper carriage road loop provides an unparalleled 360-degree view of the Catskill Mountains, Hudson River Valley, the main house and its historic farm. Immerse yourself in Frederic Church’s greatest masterpiece, an artful landscape that he designed over four decades.