Check out these New Year’s Day hikes in state parks

A walk along Ashokan Rail Trail from the Woodstock Dike entrance. (Photo by Alan Carey)

It’s time to lace up those boots, put that puffer jacket on, slip into some Bernie Sanders-styled mittens and hit the trails in 2022! The Office of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is offering a host of first-day hikes to help incentivize residents to start the year with an invigorating guided hike or snowshoe at a number of parks throughout the Hudson Valley region.

One of these hikes will take place at Sam’s Point, which is part of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve but has its own Visitors’ Center and trailhead entrance in the historic artists’ colony of Cragsmoor. This hike (or snowshoe, depending on the weather) will take visitors on a three-mile tour that will provide stunning views of the pitch-pine forests, Sam’s Point lookout (the highest point of the Shawangunk Ridge) as well as Lake Maratanza and some of the old blueberry-pickers’ shacks and cabins.

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The outing will start at the Sam’s Point Visitors’ Center at 11 a.m. Preregistration is required for this hike and can be made by calling (845) 647-7989 or visiting https://parks.ny.gov/parks/samspoint/details.aspx.

If there is snow, the Sam’s Point employees and rangers will provide a snowshoe lesson, teaching those new to the activity how properly to wear, adjust and walk in snowshoes until they’re ready to hit the trail with confidence. Snowshoes can be rented for $5 per person.

This program is being offered every Saturday through the months of January, February and March at 11 a.m. This is a beautiful location and a wonderful opportunity to learn a new winter activity. Lessons may take up to one hour, so budget your time.

There will be another First Day hike at the Peter’s Kill trailhead, also part of the 25,000-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve, at 11:30 a.m. This tour will be guided and take hikers or snowshoers (depending on the amount of snow cover) on a two-mile sojourn along the Red Loop, Bullwheel and High Peter’s Kill Footpaths. There will be two scenic vistas that will make this hike well worth the effort, including stunning views of the park, Clove Valley and the Catskill Mountains.

Organizers noted that this hike is planned for the same time as the Minnewaska-Shawangunk Bird Count, an annual event that draws expert and novice birders from the region to help take stock of our winged friends. If participants are interested, the guide will work with them to help count the winter birds that are seen along the trail.

Snowshoes can be rented for $5 but are limited in supply. If it’s a snowshoe type of January 1, get there early to ensure that you get a pair. Registration is required by calling the Minnewaska Visitors’ Center at (845) 255-0752. The meeting point is the Peter’s Kill parking area at 5080 Route 44/55 in Gardiner.

If you’re looking for a shorter but equally stunning view to celebrate the outdoors in 2022, then join the Walkway over the Hudson State staff and members of the Walkway community with an afternoon stroll along the world’s longest pedestrian footbridge (1.28 miles). This historic site is paved and can be accessed via Highland or Poughkeepsie. Hikers will meet at the Central Overlook, by the flagpole, at 2 p.m., and everyone is encouraged to participate: families, friends, individuals and furry friends that are leashed. The hike will be between one and three miles, depending on how many steps participants are aiming to get in. The Walkway provides sweeping views of the Hudson River, a National Landmark steeped in history on either side of its shore.

If you’re a Walkway over the Hudson fan or simply someone who wants to pay their respects to American veterans of war, then mark your calendars for January 16 at noon, when there will be an official flag-changing ceremony conducted by American Legion Post 739. This ceremony was organized to honor the region’s veterans and their service to the country. The event is planned and organized by local veterans’ organizations, and anyone and everyone is encouraged to attend.

The main entrance to the Walkway is located at 87 Haviland Road in Highland. To learn more, go to https://parks.ny.gov/parks/178/details.aspx.

Depending on where you live and how adventurous you want to be on January 1, there are a slew of other options, including a hike, hot cocoa and live music at Little Stony Point in the Hudson Highlands. Those excited to ring in the New Year at the shoreline of the Hudson River can meet at the park at 11 a.m. and be led by a naturalist around Little Stony Point (a mile long), or head off to a three-mile hike at nearby Cornish Estate. This event will include coffee, snacks, cocoa and some live music. People are encouraged to preregister by going to www.facebook.com/littlestonypointpark and clicking on Events, or by calling (845) 265-3175. To learn more about Little Stony Point and the 8,000- acre Hudson Highlands State Park, go to https://parks.ny.gov/parks/hudsonhighlands/details.aspx.

There are no fewer than a dozen first-day hikes at New York State Parks in the Hudson Valley region. To learn more about these particular hikes, or to get inspired and set some winter outing goals, go to https://parks.ny.gov/events/event-results.aspx?ft=36&lct=0.

Happy winter, happy hiking and happy 2022!

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