Head out to Wisconsin state parks on New Year’s Day

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages Wisconsinites to join the DNR at one of several First Day Hikes scheduled at state properties on New Year’s Day.

Participating in a First Day Hike is a healthy, refreshing way to kick off the new year.

From Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County to Straight Lake State Park in Polk County, First Day Hikes are scheduled near most corners of Wisconsin.

“Starting the new year in the outdoors is refreshing for both our body and mind,” said Steve Schmelzer, DNR parks and recreation management director. “Our OutWiGo initiative promotes the physical, mental and emotional benefits that recreating in nature provides. We invite everyone to attend a First Day Hike and feel good in the outdoors in 2024.”

Several properties offer one- to three-mile guided hikes led by property naturalists or local experts. These hikes have a specific start time and gathering spot, providing a great introduction to winter adventuring for beginner hikers or those new to exploring Wisconsin’s natural areas. Experienced hikers are invited to share their knowledge and help build the state’s outdoor community. Some guided hikes are pet-free, so please check with the property before bringing your furry friends.

Self-guided hikes allow participants to choose their own pace or difficulty level, from gently sloping nature trails to advanced routes. Drop by anytime during the event window, and property staff may offer maps and recommendations for self-guided adventuring.

Remember, it will be January in Wisconsin. Warm clothing, hats, gloves, warm boots or insulated hiking shoes are highly recommended. Some properties will also have bonfires or warming shelters to help you fight off the cold.

First Day Hikes are free, but a Wisconsin state park admission sticker or state trail pass may be required.

Most events include options beyond hiking, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, refreshments and winter activities.

Properties are open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round.

For details on First Day Hike events, visit the DNR’s event calendar. Note that events may be canceled in cases of inclement weather.