The New Year inspires resolution and resolve, the near-universal desire to progress, somehow. Improved fitness tops the lists for many people each year, and the State Parks’ “First Day Hikes” program helps turn idea into action with a series of New Year’s Day treks for all fitness levels.
At Jack London State Historic Park, hikers will scale the park’s summit in an 8-mile hike over moderate, varied terrain. All fitness levels are welcome, and those who choose to complete just a portion of the distance will find guides to help them return to the starting point. Hikers who summit will earn bragging rights and a place in the group photo marking the park’s sixth annual New Year’s Day “Hike to the Summit.” Meet in the parking lot at 10 a.m. Admission to the park is $10. Jacklondonpark.com.
For people who’d like to ease into their resolution more slowly, a less strenuous option is the “Easy First Day Hike” at Trione-Annadel State Park. Hikers will enjoy a 2.5 mile stroll up the Richardson Trail while naturalist Carolyn Greene leads the pack with practiced patter on the park’s history. Meet at the Warren Richardson Trailhead at 10 a.m. Parking is $8 per vehicle. No reservations required. Parks.ca.gov.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park offers a third option for a healthy start to the New Year with a 6-mile hike to the top of Bald Mountain. The 1,500 foot elevation change will test glute strength and lung function, but the reward is a 360-degree view that stretches to San Francisco on a clear day. Hikers should wear layers for the park’s microclimates, and meet at the main parking lot at 10 a.m. The hike is free, but parking is $8. Sugarloafpark.org.
All three New Year’s Day hikes are for humans only, with dogs not allowed, even on leash. Participants should bring their own water and lunch, and wear appropriately sturdy shoes and clothing. Hiking poles are encouraged, along with the mindful intention to start the year strong and the understanding that the human journey improves one step at a time.