Group hike at Bass River State Forest

In this file photo, a group hikes at Bass River State Forest in Burlington County.

There will be organized hikes throughout the state on New Year's Day, as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes program.

The state will host a Bird Walk at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park from the lighthouse to the end of the jetty to look for winter birds, including loons, eiders, ducks and more. No registration is required.

There are 10-mile mountain bike rides at Belleplain State Forest and Wharton State Forest, both in Burlington County.

In total, 27 guided hikes, two mountain bike rides and one horseback riding event will be offered at state parks, forests and historic sites. Exercises will range from easy to strenuous.

At Bass River State Forest, there will be a 7-mile hike through the pygmy forest along ridges with great views of the Pinelands, officials said.

In South Jersey hikes are also scheduled at Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Pemberton Township, Rancocas State Park in Westampton, and Wharton State Forest in Shamong and Washington townships, all in Burlington County; Belleplain State Forest in Woodbine; and Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove, Salem County.

First Day Hikes began more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote healthy lifestyles and year-round recreation at state parks.

The State Park Service began participating in First Day Hikes after the program became a nationwide event in 2012. 

The Division of Parks and Forestry manages about 450,000 acres of land, including 40 state parks and forests. The Division of Fish and Wildlife manages another 347,000 acres as Wildlife Management Areas.

All events are free. Some require preregistration, others do not. For a detailed list of start times, how to dress, difficulty ratings and lengths of hikes, age requirements, accessibility issues, whether dogs are permitted and who to contact in case of inclement weather, visit njparksandforests.org/parks/first_day_hikes.html.

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Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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