For Immediate Release: 12/11/2023

Kick Off 2024 With Annual First Day Hikes at More Than 60 Participating State Parks

Over 70 guided hikes taking place across California’s State Park System

Contact: Newsroom@parks.ca.gov

California State Parks welcomes the public to start 2024 in a healthy way and to enjoy the fresh air with the annual First Day Hikes, on Monday, January 1. Currently, more than 60 state parks will be participating, with over 70 guided hikes taking place across the state. Californians and visitors from around the world can hike amongst the gentle redwoods or learn about the geology of the desert or catch a glimpse of bald eagles and other unique wildlife—California has some of the most unique and iconic parks in the country for everyone to explore.

First Day Hikes is a national-led effort that encourages individuals and families to experience, with a seasoned guide, the beautiful natural and cultural resources found in the outdoors and in doing so may inspire them to take advantage of these treasures throughout the year and an individual’s lifetime.

With more than 70 guided hikes taking place in California’s State Park System on January 1, distance and difficulty will vary per hike or activity. Visitors are encouraged to check out details of start times and description of hikes.This year’s First Day Hikes webpage--parks.ca.gov/FirstDayHikes2024--is more interactive, as the public can search a map of locations by park name, county and region. Visitors are also able to see the status of the hike and the last time it was updated, and by zooming into the map, they can find hikes taking place near that region of the map. Additionally, the webpage provides information on new hiking opportunities around the holiday. For example, Carpinteria State Beach will offer a hike the morning of Saturday, December 30, and La Purísima Mission State Historic Park will have a Last Day Hike of the year the morning of Sunday, December 31. 

Below are a few hikes taking place on January 1:

  • Angel Island State Park: Join a 5-mile hike to the top of Angel Island’s Mount Caroline Livermore. The hike will pass through oak woodlands, chaparral and wind-blown hillsides. Visitors can take in spectacular views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area:Instead of a hike, visitors can come in their four-wheel-drive vehicle at the Discovery Center for a quick tour of the western portion of the park. Explore ancient seashore, mesquite dunes and desert washes. See interesting geology, desert plants, signs of wildlife and maybe even some wildflowers. The route will consist of a roughly 20-mile loop, arriving back at the Discovery Center at its conclusion. 
  • Calaveras Big Trees State Park: Hikers can experience a snowshoe-guided hike through the park’s North Grove. Snowshoes will be available to borrow, and the first portion of the program will be an introduction to how to snowshoe.
  • Salt Point State Park: Hikers can enjoy the pristine beauty of the Sonoma coast. This 2.5-mile, three-hour, easy-to-moderate and round trip hike takes participants along the ocean terrace from Gerstle Cove to Stump Beach.
  • Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park: Visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Simi Hills and the San Fernando Valley and learn about the history of the Butterfield Overland Stage Route The park will offer four hikes of different lengths and difficulty.

Most parks require a parking fee for the hikes. However, if visitors have checked out the State Library Parks Pass or have qualified for the Golden Bear Pass, they can enter for free at participating parks. Additionally, parents of fourth graders are invited to download the California State Park Adventure Pass that allows free entrance to visit park units like Millerton Lake State Recreation Area or Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Learn more about these free passes at parks.ca.gov/OutdoorsForAll.

As with any outing, it is important for all visitors to recreate responsibly. Below are helpful tips to stay safe during First Day Hikes and all year long:

  • Know Before You Go: Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a backup plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick.
  • Play It Safe: Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. For example, make sure to dress in layers, bring plenty of snacks and water, and wear appropriate hiking shoes.
  • Leave No Trace: Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.

For more safety tips, please visit parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.

Visitors can also use apps to stay safe and enhance their experience in the outdoors with:

  • what3words: Use the what3words app to communicate precise locations within any of the 280 state parks using just three words. This tool aids dispatchers in emergency situations, enabling assistance to those in need. Share locations with family and friends, and provide directions to events, trails or campsites using this convenient app. To learn more on how the app works, visit parks.ca.gov/what3words.
  • OuterSpatial: Discover the ultimate guide to California's state parks with the OuterSpatial app. Navigate through interactive maps, receive real-time updates and stay connected with fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Enhance your exploration by monitoring visits, completing challenges like the Passport to Your California State Parks and sharing memorable experiences.

Visitors are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtags: #HikeInto2024, #FirstDayHikes, #HikeWithCAStateParks and #CAStateParks.




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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.