Hike a state park. That’s the idea of First Day Hike, a nationwide program that promotes taking a hike on New Years Day in a state park. Many thousands of hikers who made a New Year’s resolution to hike for health and fitness hit the trail in state parks across the nation on January 1, 2015.

A Ranger-led hike drew 100 happy hikers on a First Day Hike at Carpinteria State Beach.
A Ranger-led hike drew 100 happy hikers on a First Day Hike at Carpinteria State Beach.
On a brisk but pleasant afternoon, I joined a First Day Hike along the bluffs of Carpinteria State Beach—which so happens to be the closest state parkland to my home. I was pleased to see a lot of trail activity, with more than 100 hikers, from about 7 to 75 years old, meandering the blufftops and walking the sandy shoreline.

“We had triple the turnout as last year,” said Leanne Clarke, longtime California Parks employee as she led hikers across the bluffs. The hiking party included families camping at Carpinteria State Beach, a lot of locals (Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Ventura) and a dozen hikers from all over the Los Angeles area.

Bluffs and Beach are equally great to hike at Carpinteria State Beach.
Bluffs and Beach are equally great to hike at Carpinteria State Beach.
Highlight for many hikers was a stop at a cliff-top vista point for a look down at about harbor seals hauled out on the beach. A docent stood by to answer questions about the inhabitants of the Harbor Seal Reserve.

I’m proud of our California State Park system for really stepping it up and promoting the First Day Hike event. This year some 40 parks from Southern California to the redwoods hosted hikes.

For all of you who got the year off to a healthy start with a hike, congratulations!

Happy Trails in 2015 and we’ll all be looking forward to starting off 2016 with the fourth annual First Day Hike.

Some of the woodsy trails at Carpinteria State Beach are flat and family-friendly.
Some of the woodsy trails at Carpinteria State Beach are flat and family-friendly.