Residents in Sussex and Warren counties can begin the new year in a healthy way with excursions offered at three different locations Tuesday, part of the First Day Hikes program that takes place annually on New Year’s Day.
Beginning at 10 a.m. at both High Point State Park in Montague and Footbridge Park in Blairstown, attendees can spend the first day of 2019 walking along miles of scenic trails with other outdoors enthusiasts. Later in the day, at 1 p.m., locals can take part in a horseback riding event — the only one of its kind in the hike program — on the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail in Hampton.
The three activities are among 22 guided hikes, two mountain bike rides, one lighthouse climb and one equestrian ride on New Year’s Day, occurring in 13 of New Jersey’s 21 counties, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“New Jersey residents can join people nationwide as we welcome the new year on the right foot,” Mark Texel, assistant director of the State Park Service, said in a press release. “The free hikes offer an incentive to get outside and exercise, experience history, enjoy nature and celebrate 2019 with friends and family in one of your state parks.”
The High Point hike, originating at the Appalachian Trail parking lot on Route 23 in Montague, is the longest of the three in the area at roughly six miles, and is described on the DEP website as “strenuous.” The first, more rugged half of the hike will be on the Appalachian Trail, while guests will return on the easier, well-graded Iris Trail.
Registration for the hike is required. To register, call the High Point State Park office at 973-875-4800 or contact hike leader John Rovetto at 973-903-3496 or [email protected]
The hike will be canceled if there is steady rain, heavy snow or icy conditions. Contact the park office prior to Jan. 1 at 973-903-3496; on the day of the scheduled hike, visit the High Point State Park Facebook page for information on potential cancellation.
The 34th annual New Year’s Day Hike in Blairstown, hosted by the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee, will depart from Footbridge Park and consist of about 4.5 miles of easy, level walking. Registration is not required; email [email protected] for more information.
The hike will be canceled in the event of heavy rain or snow. To check on its status, call 908-930-9745 on the evening of Dec. 31.
The horseback ride, originating at Halsey Farm on the corner of Route 519 and Halsey Road in Hampton, will be a roughly 3-mile trek along the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail that is expected to last between an hour and 90 minutes. Following the trip, both riders and non-riders are invited to lunch at Yetter’s Diner.
Registration for the ride is recommended. For more information or to register, call or text Carolyn Moran at 845-667-2015, or email [email protected]
The event will be canceled if weather conditions are not safe for riding.
The first day of the new year also means the return of Dale’s Chilly Chili Run hosted by the Blue Knights NJIX, a favorite event of local motorcyclists that dates back more than 40 years.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the Ogdensburg Firehouse, and riders depart two hours later for a roughly 35-mile trip before returning to the firehouse for a chili and hot dog lunch. The cost is $20 per person, with children under 12 free.
Proceeds from the run benefit Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, the organization that cared for the wife of event founder Dale Lewis when she fell ill in the 1980s.
For more information on the Chili Run, visit bknjix.org or email [email protected]
Rutherfurd Hall in Allamuchy will host its fourth annual First Night Warren celebration from 4-8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Visitors to the historic building can enjoy a variety of entertainment, including live music, a reptile show, a magician and even a fire show, before settling in for fireworks at 7:30 p.m.
Admission buttons to the event, available for $15 per person, can be purchased online or at Rutherfurd Hall but must be picked up at the venue prior to the event. Children 3 and under are free.
Free shuttle buses will be available from the Allamuchy Township School parking lot on Johnsonburg Road and the Panther Valley Ecumenical Church parking lot on Route 517. There is also limited parking at Rutherfurd Hall for $25 per car. Parking passes can be purchased online but also must be picked up before the event.
To purchase tickets or a parking pass, go to www.rutherfurdhall.tix.com or call 908-852-1894, ext. 338.