Three guided local hikes to get the lead out this week and kick off 2020

Get outside for a First Day of the Year Hike

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 2:15pm

For the last 28 years, the 50 state park systems of the United States have been encouraging people to get off the couch on January 1 and get the blood pumping.

First Day Hikes, began locally in Massachusetts in 1992 and went nationwide in 2012. Last year, more than 55,000 people got into it and collectively walked more than 133,000 miles on the guided hikes, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on New Year's Day. It’s not only a motivating way to get active, but also a fun, sociable experience for friends and family, especially as we head into the deeper part of winter, when people tend to stay inside and hibernate. We have three local Midcoast Maine hikes to get you moving, two of which are inspired but not affiliated with the First Day Hike. There are others farther afield, as well, in case you want to travel.

Beech Hill Preserve

Wednesday, January 1 — Rockport

The Summit Trail is an easy trail is less than a mile and leads up to the bald hilltop with sweeping view of the Penobscot Bay. No need for a guided hike, you’ll have plenty of people around on this gentle upward slope to the open fields that lead to Beech Nut, a sod-roofed stone hut. The hike starts at 11:30 a.m. and goes until 1:30 p.m. An added incentive? Cookies and hot chocolate will be provided in the hut at the top.  Here’s the trail map.

Lake St. George State Park

Wednesday, January 1— Lake St. George

Go for a leisurely one-mile hike through the day use area and campground or a three-mile hike across the lake around Hawaii 2 Island, dependent on ice conditions. Meet at the first Day Use parking lot past the entry booth starting at 10 a.m. and going until 1 p.m. Bring your snowshoes, creepers, skis and or hiking boots, and dress for the weather. A warming hut will be located inside the barn. Snacks and hot beverages will be provided. Leashed dogs are welcome. This is a beginner level hike. More info.

Georges River

Saturday, January 4 — Searsmont

Note the date for this one as it takes place a few days after the New Year, but meet up at the the Searsmont Town Library by 9:45 a.m. to car pool to the trailhead. On this family friendly hike, exploring the wilds of Searsmont with  guides Sarah Crosby and Bill Evans (who have been hiking, bushwhacking, skiing and snowshoeing the area for many years). Take an easy two-mile stroll along the Georges River in an exploration of some of the dam areas. Bring clothes and footwear appropriate to the weather. Hosted by the Searsmont Town Library and Georges River Land Trust, here’s more info.


In Maine, five state parks are participating. Maine State Parks staff and volunteers will lead hikers along trails that will showcase the beauty of Maine. The distance and the difficulty of the trails vary from park to park, but the hikes are designed to benefit the entire family.

Bradbury Mountain State Park

 January 1

10 a.m.

528 Hallowell Road, Pownal.

Meet at the upper parking lot. Guided hike to the summit with Maine Guide Jeanne Christie. Along the way learn about the history of the park, species identification and tracking. The hike will ascend to the summit on the Northern Loop Trail, and return to the base down Terrace Trail, where hike participants will be able to get warmed with a nice cup of Hot Cocoa.
Wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear. Meet at the upper parking lot. Plan on one to two hours; Snow shoe rentals available. Free park admission for First Day Hike participants!

For more information, contact the park at (207) 688-4712 or Jeanne Christy at (207) 310-8708.

Holbrook Island Sanctuary
January 1
1 to 3 p.m.

Indian Bar Road on Cape Rosier, Brooksville, Maine; Meet at the Backshore Trail parking area.

A leisurely mile and a half walk, for all ages, to enjoy the peacefulness of the coast of Maine. Meet at the Backshore Trail parking area and walk old roads out to the shoreline trail with views of Holbrook and Islesboro islands.

Break at Goose Falls (a reversing tidal waterfall) and return by Back Road. Snacks and hot drinks provided. Please bring appropriate footwear and clothing for the conditions. Leashed pets are welcome.

Free; no admission charged. For more information, contact the park at (207) 326-4012.

Lily Bay State Park

 January 1

noon to 3 p.m.

State Park Road, Beaver Cove, Greenville (Lat 45.568853, Lon -69.538450); Meet at the entry booth parking lot (Rte. 15/6 to Lily Bay Rd. to State Park Road).

A leisurely 3-mile hike near Moosehead Lake to investigate the wonders of the season. There will also be a 1-mile hike for beginners. Snacks and hot drinks provided at end of hike along with a warm bonfire. Wear warm clothes and boots or snowshoes. Meet at the entry booth parking lot (Rte. 15/6 to Lily Bay Rd. to State Park Rd.)

Free park admission for First Day Hike participants.

For more information, contact the park at (207) 695-2700.

Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park

January 1

2 p.m.

426 Wolf Neck Road, Freeport, Maine; Meet at the picnic shelter by the second parking lot.

A leisurely 0.3 mile guided walk to enjoy 'Winter in the Woods' and learn how plants and animals survive the cold winter months. Wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear. Meet at the picnic shelter by the second parking lot. Plan on one hour. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash at all times. Hot cocoa and cookies will be provided after the hike.

Free park admission for First Day Hike participants.

For more information, contact the park at (207) 865-4465.


For more information visit  First Day Hikes and check out the five Maine state parks also participating.


Kay stephens can be reached at