CONNECTICUT, USA — The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and its partners at the various State Parks and Forests Friends Groups are encouraging residents to get the New Year started off right by getting outside and safely partaking in a “First Day Hike,” at a state park or forest close to home.
The New Year's Day hikes -- often group hikes led by guides describing natural and historic landmarks -- have become a popular way to celebrate the holiday in recent years. But DEEP says the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the format for 2020 to online, virtual, and self-guided events with no specific timeframe. Several of the events are taking the form of scavenger hunts where participants can post photos of their finds online, or virtual hikes on Facebook, like the one at the Hammonassett nature center, led by "Ranger Russ".
DEEP is asking all participants to wear a mask, practice safe social distancing, and meet in small groups composed of those within your household.
DEEP State Parks and Forests Friends Groups have put together an array of virtual and self-guided hikes and programs for those looking to participate, which average 1 to 2 miles or longer depending on the state park. You can find a complete list on the DEEP website here.
“Connecticut is pleased to once again join in hosting First Day Hikes around the state, albeit in a slightly different fashion due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “As they were in 2020, Connecticut’s state parks and forests will continue to be a respite for folks in 2021 who seek the mental and physical rejuvenation nature provides. “We hope you consider celebrating the New Year safely in the outdoors, whether it be a First Day Hike, or part of a resolution to engage more with nature over the course of the year.”
Each year more than 9 million visitors visit the 110 Connecticut State Parks and 32 State Forests across the state.