Free Guided Family First Day Hikes in New Jersey

Posted on: December 27th, 2018 by


First Day Hikes in New Jersey


Start off the New Year right with some fresh air and movement at one of the First Day Hikes in New Jersey!


Hiking during the winter might not sound like too much fun. But with the right clothing and the right attitude, some sunlight and crisp air could be a great cure for the winter doldrums. Get back to nature, get off the screens, and spend time together exploring the outdoors with one of these First Day Hikes in New Jersey!


Consider spending New Year’s Day on a guided “First Day Hike.” The First Day Hike program is sponsored by America’s State Parks, and open to all ages.


New Jersey State Parks will be offering 21 hikes (and two mountain bike rides and one lighthouse climb) across the state! Some First Day Hikes in New Jersey require registration.


First Day Hikes in New Jersey, Participating State Parks

Northern New Jersey First Day Hikes

Jersey City – Hudson County
US Flag Plaza to Caven Point Beach Walk, Liberty State Park, 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City. 10 AM – 12 PM Registration is required. Please join us on a 3-mile, all ages leisurely hike to Caven Point Beach. Come explore the manmade and natural shoreline of the Upper NY Bay, with unique views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Skyline. We’ll also explore the unique features of Caven Point Beach. Check in will be at the Park Office located at 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305. Free parking is available. For more information click here.


Ringwood – Passaic County
First Day Hike, New Jersey State Botanical Gardens, Ringwood State Park, 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. No registration required. Two self-guided family friendly hikes in the State Park woodlands at the NJ State Botanical Garden. Weather permitting; you can climb to the Mt. Defiance overlook on the Halifax trail and return, or choose our alternate hike without a climb. This annual event is a joint project of State Park staff and volunteers from the NJBG/Skylands Association. Meet at the Carriage House Visitor Center at NJBG between 1pm and 2pm. Map and hike directions will be provided at the start. Allow about 90 minutes for the hike. 1 or 3 miles. 2 possible routes, one route is flat terrain of the Botanical Garden and one has ups and downs in the wooded areas. Children with parents/guardians are welcome; small children may need to be carried. For more information click here.


Montague – Sussex County
High Point “First Day Challenge Hike” Route 23, Montague. Come and join us for our Second Annual High Point “First Day Challenge” Hike. This will be a great way to start off the new year and get in some exercise. The first, more rugged half of the hike will be on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in scenic High Point State Park. The return will be on the easier Iris Trail, a well-graded, old wagon road. There will be numerous scenic views along the AT on the ridge. Hike starts at 10 AM, recommended for ages 12 and up. Registration is required for this New Year’s Day hike in New Jersey. For more information click here.


Blairstown – Warren County
Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail Committee Annual New Year’s Day Hike, Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail (extension of Kittatinny Valley State Park). 10 AM – 2 PM. Registration not required. 34th Annual New Year’s Day Hike. Join the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee (PVTC) at 10:00AM for their 34th Annual New Year’s Day Hike starting at Footbridge Park in Blairstown, NJ. The PVTC, the Officially Recognized Friends Organization of the Kittatinny Valley State Park, will host the 4.5 mile hike. The trail is cinder-based which provides easy, level walking. For more information click here.


First Day Horseback Ride, Sussex Branch & Paulinskill Valley Rail Trails (extension of Kittatinny Valley State Park), 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Bring your OWN HORSE if you’d like to participate in a guided horseback ride. Trail ride approx. two hours – “Easy Peasy ride along the rail trail. Horse Rig Parking only at Halsey Farm. Lunch in Branchville. (Please note: The horseback ride is the only organized, guided activity at this location. All other suggested activities are your responsibility and should be conducted independently) Registration required, for children 10 and older.


Central New Jersey First Day Hikes

High Bridge – Hunterdon County
15 mile all day hike for ages 10 and up, not for beginners. Registration not required. 8:30 AM start A 15.2 mile hike that will take us along the Highlands Trail at Spruce Run, starting a little further along the reservoir, then following the Spruce Run through state owned lands. There are informal paths that connect the Union Furnace Nature Preserve to the Honachefsky Tract. From there, a walk and history talk through Glen Gardner, and then the new trail system recently installed along the Spruce Run in Lebanon Township. For more information click here.


Lebanon – Hunterdon County
New Year’s Hike, Round Valley Recreation Area, 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Registration required. Whatever you did the night before, this is your chance to get outdoors in New Jersey and start 2019 off on the right foot. We will hike either the Cushetunk or Water Trail and look for signs of new life as the year begins. Easy to moderate hike of 3 miles. Children with adults welcome. For more information click here.


South Brunswick – Middlesex/Mercer County
Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Princeton Nursery Lands First Day Hike 145 Mapleton Road Princeton 12 -2 PM. Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands invites everyone to a First Day Hike in the Mapleton Preserve. Exercise your New Year’s resolution to walk more, or make new friends on this easy 1.5 mile loop hike through the Mapleton Preserve. \ It will begin and end at the Mapleton Preserve/D&R Canal State Park Headquarters at 145 Mapleton Road in Kingston. Join us for cocoa afterwards. Dress for the weather, whatever it is. The walk is free and all are welcome. For more information, visit as we get closer to the New Year. For more information click here.


Hopewell – Mercer County
From Ferry to Ferry -100 horses, 18 cannons, and the wagons, Washington Crossing State Park/Johnson Ferry House. For ages 10 and older. 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Registration required. A guided walk of the route taken by the “stuff” of the Continental Army on Christmas Night, 1776 across the Delaware River into New Jersey. Sights and stops include the Washington Crossing Bridge, the Nelson House, the Ferry Boat replica, the pedestrian bridge, overlook, the Stone Barn, and the Johnson Ferry House. For more information click here.


Old Bridge – Middlesex County
First Day Hike, Cheesequake State Park, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Registration not required.
Join us for a guided hike on the trails of Cheesequake to celebrate the New Year.  For more information click here.


Highlands – Monmouth County
Lighthouse climb at Twin Lights. 10 AM – 2 PM, registration not required. Make a resolution and start your new year right by celebrating history atop the North Tower at Twin Lights! The North Tower will be open between the hours of 10:00-2:00 for a self-guided walk up the 64 steps to amazing view. Please bring along binoculars and warm clothes as the tower is not heated.


Manalapan – Monmouth County
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.Walk the ground where Molly Pitcher fought at Monmouth! Meet Dr. David Martin, President of the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield, at the Visitor Center for an overview of the Battle of Monmouth, then drive approx. 2 miles (in your own vehicle) to the northern section of the Park, and walk along the American lines to the position of Proctor’s Artillery and other sites associated with Molly Pitcher. Finish with a visit to the likely site of Molly Pitcher’s “well.” The length of this interpretive tour is subject to change depending on weather and conditions. The tour is 2 miles over open fields and hills and includes detailed information about troop movements at the Battle of Monmouth.  Ages 10 and up welcome. For more information click here.


Southern New Jersey First Day Hikes

Hainesport – Burlington County
First Day Hike at Rancocas ~ Hike 1, Rancocas State Park, Westampton section, ages 6 and up. 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. No registration required. Join Burlington County Park Rangers for a hike at Rancocas State Park in Westampton. Begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike. Meet at the Rancocas Rd. entrance between Irick Rd and the Westampton municipal building. For more information click here.


Shamong – Burlington County

Historic Hampton Furnace Hike – Atsion, Wharton State Forest – Atsion Recreation Area, 11:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. (approx) No Fee Pre-registration IS REQUIRED for more information click here.


New Year’s Day Hike, Wharton State Forest/Atsion Recreation Area, for ages 10 and older. 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Registration required. Come join fellow outdoor enthusiasts and nature guides for an entertaining romp out to the remnants of the Old Forge Pond and a previous Pine Barrens Nature Study area. Various habitats to explore and view. A great way to begin the New Year learning about the history and environment of this unique area. Easy 2-3 miles. For more information click here.


New Year’s Bike Ride, Wharton State Forest for ages 14 and up. 11 AM – 1:30 PM registration is required. Come out and join us for a brisk cross-country mountain bike ride through the Pinelands of Wharton State Forest. Be ready to pedal up some short hills!


Village Walk, Wharton State Forest 10:30 AM – 12 PM, preregistration is required. Start your new year with a family history walk through Batsto Village. For more information click here.


Woodbine – Cape May County
1st Day East Creek Trail Hike, Belleplain State Forest, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Registration not required.
Join us for a 3.5 mile hike on the East Creek Trail. The hike will cover half the distance of the trail. Please dress for the weather and bring water. Dogs are welcome! For more information click here.


1st Day Mountain Bike Ride, Belleplain State Forest, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Registration not required.Join us for a mountain bike ride on the 10 mile trail at Belleplain State Forest. This is a technical trail with twists and turns through the forest. An option of less mileage is available. For children 10 and over.


Berkeley – Ocean County
New Year’s Day Beach Hike. Island Beach State Park 2 – 3:30 PM, registration is required.
Ring in the New Year at beautiful Island Beach State Park! Join the Friends of IBSP for a scenic walk down the beach. Walk is approximately 1.5 miles out and back, but feel free to turn back at anytime. Naturalists will be on site to point out the flora and fauna present. Winter is a great time to experience the a natural beauty of IBSP! For more details click here.


Jackson – Ocean County
Enjoy a guided one-hour hike along flat sandy roads at FREC’s First Day Walk of the NJ State Tree Farm, Nursery and Education Center in Jackson, 11 AM – 12 PM. Registration is required. For more information click here.


Stafford Township – Ocean County
Bass River State Forest. Approximately a 5 mile hike, for ages 10 and older, 1 PM – 4 PM, registration required. Join us for a hike in the Warren Grove Recreation Area, at Bass River State Forest, which encompasses the Little Pine Plains and the “Pygmy Pines” – the world’s largest acreage of this globally rare forest community. Portions of the hike will be through places where the mature trees are scarcely taller than the hikers themselves and in some places are not. The hike will traverse several ridges that will provide fantastic views of the surrounding area. For more information click here.


Pittsgrove – Salem County
Parvin Historic Walk, Parvin State Park, 1 PM – 3 PM. Registration is required. Come explore the history of Parvin State Park, as we walk through the park and imagine things 90 years ago.  2 miles, children with parents/guardians are welcome. For more information click here.


Click over for more New Jersey New Year’s Day Events for Families.


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