If you’re looking to start 2019 on the right foot, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will host their annual “First Day Hikes” event. About 27 state parks will participate this year. Most organized hikes will have a guide and some parks have multiple options to choose from which allow you to choose a route and time you prefer.

The hikes for this January 1 event will be free, but park visitors must have a valid parks pass to participate. Daily passes are also available for about $8 for most parks if you don’t want to purchase an annual pass. All first day hikes will vary in ability levels and lengths depending on the location and weather conditions.

Many parks will have free giveaways and refreshments for this event as well, but visitors should bring their own snacks and drinks as well. Participants should also bundle up and bring equipment best suited for icy/snowy trails.

This will be the sixth year of “First Day Hikes,” so find one near you.

Chatfield First Day Hike

Photo Courtesy chatfieldreallocation.org

Where: Meet at the Heronry Parking lot. To access the lot, enter Chatfield State Park through the south east entrance on N. Roxborough Road off of Titan Road and continue to follow the main road to the dead end and turn right towards the Park Office — Heronry will be the first parking lot on the left.
When: First hike meets at 9 a.m. and second hike begins at 11 a.m.
The Lowdown:
 Participants will be able to hike at Chatfield State Park’s new Plum Creek Nature Trail. This is the first and only time the public will be able to see the new and improved trail until it officially opens in Spring 2019. There will be hot chocolate to warm you up and donuts to snack on.

First Day Hikes at Mueller

Photo Courtesy of Mueller State Park on Facebook.

Where: Mueller State Park. Meet up points vary depending on the trail you choose.
When: The first hike will start at 9 a.m.
The Lowdown:
 Participants will be able to choose from different trails at Mueller, including Elk Meadow, Rock Pond, Homestead and Outlook Ridge It’s recommended that you bring your own water, snacks and possibly snowshoes. Make sure to dress for the snow and stay warm.

First Day Hike at Eleven Mile State Park

Where: Eleven Mile State Park.
When: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 There are currently no details on hike length and meeting points. It’s open for all ages, but no pets are allowed.

First Day Hikes at Navajo State Park

Photo Courtesy of Navajo State Park on Facebook.

Where: Meet at the visitor center of Navajo State Park.
When: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This hike will be 2.8 miles. It’ll start at the visitor center, move North along the edge of the lake to the Wind Surf Beach area and back to the visitor center. People can also participate in the .25 mile Lakeview Loop as well. Refreshments will be served after all hikes have ended.

First Day Hikes at Castlewood Canyon

Photo Courtesy of Castlewood Canyon on Facebook.

Where: Castlewood Canyon. (Meeting points will vary depending on the hike)
When: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Castlewood Canyon will be offering three hikes of varying difficulties.  The hikes will be Lake Gultch, Creek Bottom and Canyon View. Meeting points will be at the Canyon Point parking lot, the visitor center and Homestead parking lot.

Arkansas Headwaters First Day Hike

Photo Courtesy of Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area on Facebook.

Where: Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Meet at Mount Elbert/ Colorado Trail trailhead just beyond the Lakeview Campground near Twin Lakes.
When: 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This is the Lily Pond Twin Lakes Overlook hike. It’s a 3.5 mile hike, round-trip. It will be led by Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area volunteer naturalist, Bob Hickey. This trail has modest slopes and switchbacks through forested terrain and a handful of open view areas. Lunch/snacks will also be offered at the halfway point of the hike, so participants can enjoy the gorgeous view of Mt. Elbert and Twin Lakes. This hike is not recommended for children under eight-years-old, and pets are allowed on leash or direct command. If weather conditions are bad, there is a back up hike planned.

First Day Hikes at Staunton State Park

Photo Courtesy of Staunton State Park on Facebook.

Where: Staunton State Park. Meet at the Ranch Hand group picnic area for all hikes.
When:  9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Staunton State Park will have six different hikes at different times with varying levels of difficulty and length to choose from. Visitors will be able to have their photo taken before the hikes begin, and they will also have a cookout with many goodies and hot drinks to keep you warm.

First Day Hikes at Ridgway State Park

Photo Courtesy of Ridgway State Park on Facebook. Photo taken by Mike Boese.

Where: Ridgway State Park.
When:  9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 There will be three hikes offered in the morning, mid-day and afternoon, and the three trails include Enchanted Mesa, Twin Fawn/Sunset Ridge and Cookie Tree. Hot chocolate and tea will also be available throughout the day, and visitors will also get to enjoy a campfire and s’mores in the afternoon.

First Day Hikes at Cheyenne Mountain

Photo Courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain State Park on Facebook.

Where: Cheyenne Mountain State Park. All hikes will meet at Limekiln Trailhead.
When:  10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
The Lowdown:
 It doesn’t matter if there’s sleet or snow on the ground or if it’s 20 degrees outside — hikes will still be held. Participants will get chose from three different hikes ranging from one to five miles. All hikes will meet at Limekiln Trailhead and begin at 10 a.m. After you finish your hike, you can drop by the visitor center for some hot chocolate to warm you up.

First Day Hike at Cherry Creek

Photo Courtesy of Cherry Creek State Park on Facebook.

Where: Cherry Creek State Park.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Cherry Creek State Park will host a bird watching walk along Vaughan Way Trail and will start at the campground. It’s welcomed for all ages over five.

First Day Hike at James M. Robb – Colorado River State Park

Photo Courtesy of James M. Robb – Colorado River State Park on Facebook.

Where: James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. Meet at the Kingfisher parking lot.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This hike will go around the connected lakes section of the state park. Participants will travel about three miles along the Waterfowl Loop and Promontory Point trails. Hikers should be at the meeting point by 10 a.m., and pets are also allowed if they are under control on a six inch leash.

First Day Hike at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Where: Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Meet at the visitor center.
When:  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Golden Gate Canyon will offer two hikes — one along the Black Bear Trail and another along the Mule Deer Trail. It’s recommended that participants arrive at the visitor center between 9 – 9:30 a.m. so the group can be on trail by 10 a.m. Snowshoes/Yak-tracks are also urged to bring in case of snow and such.

First Day Hike at Highline Lake

Photo Courtesy of Highline Lake State Park on Facebook.

Where: Highline Lake State Park. Meet at the visitor center.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This hike is an easy hike that’s open for all ages. Participants will  take the Highline Lake Trail.

First Day Hike at John Martin Reservior

Photo Courtesy of John Martin Reservoir State Park on Facebook.

Where: John Martin Reservoir State Park. Meet at the visitor center.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 The hike on the Red Shin Trail will begin at 10 a.m., and participants will get to look at the petroglyphs in the park and hopefully some wildlife along the way. All ages are welcome, but make sure to bring enough water, good shoes and warm clothing.

First Day Hike at Lake Pueblo

Photo Courtesy of Lake Pueblo State Park on Facebook.

Where: Lake Pueblo State Park
When:  All day.
The Lowdown:
 This will be an easy hike open to all ages. No details have been given on the length of the hike.

First Day Hike at Lathrop State Park

Photo Courtesy of Lathrop State Park on Facebook.

Where: Lathrop State Park. Meet at the visitor center.
When:  10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Participants will have two choices of trails — either the Hogback or Cuerno Verde Trail. Both trails are considered moderate, and all ages are welcome. You’ll get to enjoy beautiful scenery that include views of the Spanish Peaks, and the food and cider that will be served at the visitor center after the event.

First Day Hike at Lory State Park

Photo Courtesy of Lory State Park on Facebook.

Where: Lory State Park. Meet at Arthur’s Rock Trailhead.
When:  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Lory State Park is offering two hikes for only teens, young adults and/or adults. The hike to Arthur’s Rock trail is about three and a half miles and will be led by a park volunteer. This hike offers a panoramic view of the front range, and it goes up to 1,000 feet in elevation — it’s considered a moderate to difficult hike. The easier hike on the Well Gulch Nature Trail is about one and a half miles. Hot chocolate will also be offered to all participants. It is important to note that only 25 participants are allowed per hike and pre-registration is required. Call the visitor center at 970-493-1623 to register.

First Day Hike at North Sterling State Park

Photo Courtesy of North Sterling State Park on Facebook.

Where: North Sterling State Park. Meet at the stargazing area.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Two hikes will be offered here — Sunset point and Red Fox Trail — both are about half a mile long and will have scenic views. Participants will also learn about the history of the park and animals they may see along the way.

First Day Hike at St. Vrain

Photo Courtesy of St. Vrain State Park on Facebook.

Where: St. Vrain State Park. Meet in the Blue Heron parking lot.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Participants will get to enjoy a two-mile long hike around Pelican Pond. This hike will have great scenery and a chance to see and learn about local wildlife such as waterfowl, raptors, turkey and deer.

First Day Hikes at State Forest State Park

Photo Courtesy of State Forest State Park on Facebook.

Where: State Forest State Park. Meet at the Moose visitor center.the
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This will be a two and a half mile hike on the Gould Loop. Participants should be on the look out for tracks of multiple animals, including moose and foxes. It’s recommended to bring boots, snowshoes and warm clothing. Snowshoes are also available for rent at the Moose visitor center.

First Day Hike at Sweitzer Lake State Park

Photo Courtesy of Sweitzer Lake State Park on Facebook.

Where: Sweitzer Lake State Park. Meet at the visitor center
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Sweitzer Lake’s hike will be a three-mile hike around the lake that will include a wildlife and bird watching interpretive talk along the way.

First Day Hike at Trinidad Lake State Park

Photo Courtesy of Trinidad Lake State Park on Facebook.

Where: Trinidad Lake State Park. Meet at the amphitheater at Carpios Ridge.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Trinidad Lake State Park will have a one mile hike on the Levsa Trail where all ages are welcome. The hike begins at 10 a.m., and participants are reminded to bring water and wear appropriate clothing for the weather.

First Day Hike at Vega State Park

2018 First Day Hike. Photo Courtesy of Vega State Park on Facebook.

Where: Vega State Park. Meet at the visitor center.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This hike will be a two-mile long hike that will proceed whether there’s rain, snow or sunshine. Hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate clothing since the event will go on whether or not the weather calls for it.

First Day Hike at Yampa River State Park

Photo Courtesy of Yampa River State Park on Facebook.

Where: Yampa River State Park. Meet at the Yampa River Headquarters Nature/Interpretive Trail.
When:  10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 The park will host a guided hike around the Yampa River Headquarters Nature Trail for all ages that begins at 10 a.m. Visitors also might get to enjoy ice skating at their ice rink. Make sure to wear warm clothing and possibly bring some snowshoes along.

First Day Hike at Rifle Falls State Parks

Ice Caves at Rifle Mountain Park via Facebook

Where: Rifle Falls State Park. Meet in the parking loop.
When:  11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 This will be a guided hike that goes around the waterfalls for one and a half miles. The hike will lead you to overlooks above the waterfalls and allow you to see beautiful views of the valley to the south. It’s likely that you will also see mule deer and some signs of other wildlife such as mountain lions.

First Day Hike at Eldorado Canyon State Park

Photo Courtesy of Eldorado Canyon State Park on Facebook.

Where: Eldorado Canyon State Park. Meet at the Fowler Trailhead.
When: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Eldorado Canyon State Park will have a guided hike on Fowler Trail. It’s an easy hike that’s about one mile in length. All ages above five are welcome, but no dogs are allowed. After the hike, participants will get to enjoy hot chocolate around a campfire.

First Day Hike at Steamboat Lake State Park

Photo Courtesy of Steamboat Lake State Park on Facebook.

Where: Steamboat Lake State Park. Meet at the visitor center.
When:  1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The Lowdown:
 Steamboat Lake will host a snowshoe hike on the Tombstone Trail. After the hike, participants will get to warm up with some hot beverages and snacks at the visitor center.

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