First Day Hikes with America's State Parks

Park: Saddleback Butte SP

Celebrate the New Year with “First Day Hikes”
at Saddleback Butte and Red Rock Canyon State Parks.
Rejuvenate by taking a family friendly trek through a state park close to home!

California State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes at Saddleback Butte State Park and Red Rock Canyon State Park on New Year’s Day, as part of America's State Parks’ First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2014 at a state park close to home. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks. First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks,” said California State Parks Director, Major General Anthony L. Jackson.

“Last year, we hosted 22,000 people who hiked over 43,911 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes,” said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.” 

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit.” stated Phil McNelly, NASPD’s Executive Director. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. 2012 marked the first time all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes, offering 400 hikes nationwide.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes at Saddleback Butte State Park, which vary from an easy half mile to a strenuous five mile hike up the butte. All hikes leave from the picnic area, 17102 East Avenue J, Lancaster (corner of 170th St E and East Avenue J, 19 miles east of Hwy 14, near Lake Los Angeles). Kids are welcome, but dogs are not allowed on trails in California State Parks. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the park’s Picnic Area after returning from the hikes!  Fundraising activities will also be offered to benefit the Save Saddleback Committee (cash or checks only).

9 a.m. – Hike to top of Saddleback Butte
Moderately strenuous. Five miles roundtrip, 1000 ft of elevation gain.  Bring water for the hike and wear good hiking shoes and layered clothing – it can be quite windy at the top. 

10 a.m. - Hike to the south end of the park
Easy to moderate.  4 1/2 miles, little elevation gain, should take about 1½ hours.   Dress for the weather; bring water and hat, and walking sticks optional. You will enjoy the beautiful high desert views of our Antelope Valley; this is a great winter’s hike. 

11 a.m. - Dowen Nature Trail
Easy.  Ranger-lead, interpretive tour along the nature trail.  Learn about the unique natural and cultural history of the local area. 1/2 mile loop with mild elevation gain. Wheelchair/stroller accessible.

A hike will also be led at Red Rock Canyon State Park, 22 miles north of Mojave on Highway 14:
9 a.m. - Hagen Canyon Trailhead, off Abbot Rd.
This is a 9 mile, all day hike in Nightmare Gulch; participants will be back by approximately 4pm.  The hike begins with a strenuous stretch of three ridges with an elevation gain/loss of approximately 1100’.  The hike then evens out and is easy to moderate.  This hike is for those in good physical condition, ages 12 and up. Dogs are not recommended but may be brought on leash.  Wear layered clothing and bring water and lunch. Hikers are responsible for their own health and safety. Visit for more information.

More information about First Day Hikes offered around the country, their difficulty and length, and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website, America's State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

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Event Dates

Wednesday, January 01, 2014