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CT's "First Day Hikes" go beyond hikes, and beyond the first day of 2021

COVID rules mean group hikes are giving way to scavenger hunts and other activities.

KILLINGWORTH, Conn. — A New Year! A fresh start! What better way to ring in the new year than to visit a State Park or State Forest and enjoy a beautiful hike?

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection got creative this year to continue their traditional “First Day” hikes.

Kathleen Zandi with the Friends of Chatfield Hollow said, “Four years ago we started doing first day hikes. And so I lead the first 3 years of first day hikes. But this year because of Covid we didn’t want to do a big group. Usually, we get 30-40 people that come in one big group, so we wanted to avoid that.”

Typically, DEEP guides hikers through the state parks in Connecticut to celebrate the new year. Given the restrictions of the pandemic, they’re encouraging self-guided and virtual tours to keep the tradition alive.  They’ve organized a list of hiking locations on their website, including links to virtual hikes if you’d like to stay at home and participate in the fun remotely.

At Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, this year’s hike became a treasure hunt perfect for the whole family.

Cheryl Buckley with Friends of Chatfield Hollow says it means the First Day Hikes… will last longer than just the first day of the year.

“You can walk and do this tour throughout the park today and any day…..not just the new year,” she said. “The state has been a love of mine and my family’s, and this is just to enhance the beauty and invite people to share in all the park has to offer.”

Friends of Chatfield Hollow State Park wanted to make this year’s First Day hike event special and family-friendly, so Kathleen developed the “First Day Treasure Hunt.”

“There’s a lot of different points of interest and history about the park on the treasure map,” she said. It includes history about how the Hollow came to be, possible hauntings throughout the trails, and twelve different markers on the 2.5 mile trail that take you back in time. This is not just a one day tour.

You can find a list of hikes and other events happening this weekend, and beyond, by clicking here.