Woman at Big Bend lookout in winter

Hit the trails for a First Day Hike

Are you a regular victim of post-holiday slump?

We’ve got the secret to starting 2019 on the right foot.

Take a hike!

Couple and dog on boardwalk

A First Day Hike is a fun and healthy way to kick off the New Year. The concept is simple: on January 1, visit a provincial park near you for a hike!

You can either take a self-guided hike with your friends and family, or visit a park hosting a guided hike. Either way, you’ll feel great after a day spent outside with your loved ones.

Here are some of our park events:

Park Time Meeting place
Kakabeka Falls 1:30 pm Main falls parking lot
Lake Superior 1:00 pm Wawa Community Centre
MacGregor Point 2:00 pm Administration building
Murphys Point 1:00 pm Main winter parking lot
Sibbald Point all day Maidenhair Fern Trail parking lot
Silent Lake 1:00 pm Bonnie’s Pond trailhead

Hiking is a fun activity people of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy. Memories made on the trails will stay with you forever. First Day Hikes make a great holiday tradition.

Hiking for health

A First Day Hike promotes a year-long embrace of health and happiness in the outdoors. Plus, hiking offers head-to-toe health benefits. 

Diagram on healthy hiking

Hiking is good for cardiovascular health and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

It’s also great at toning muscles especially in quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Add some hills or uneven terrain for an even better cardio workout and to burn more calories.

Hikers in the winter

Hiking is good for your mind, too. Research shows that spending time outdoors may increase your attention span and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50%.

As you travel along the trail, you’ll hear the sounds of nature all around you. Nature sounds — like birds and rushing water — have been shown to lower stress levels.

Woman hiking in a snowy forest

Profile of woman smiling in a forest
Dr. Melissa Lem

First Day Hikes are even endorsed by doctors themselves. Dr. Melissa Lem is a family physician from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

“From lower stress and blood pressure to a boost in your immune system and cancer-fighting proteins, the evidence is growing about the health benefits of getting active in nature,” she says. “CAPE is delighted to be helping Canadians start 2019 off on a healthy foot with First Day Hikes.”

Hike to win

Woman takes photo of tree in winter

Ontario Parks is giving away three 2019-2020 seasonal day use permits to participants in First Day Hikes!

To enter, post a photo on social media of you taking a First Day Hike on January 1. On Twitter and Instagram, make sure to add #FirstDayHike and tag Ontario Parks. On Facebook, you can post your photo in the comments on our page.

One winner will be chosen per social media channel. Full contest rules for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook available here.

Please note that this contest is only open to residents of Ontario.

The origin of the First Day Hike

First Day Hikes began in the United States over 25 years ago. The first ever First Day Hike happened in 1992 in the DCR Blue Hills Reservation, a park just south of Boston.

Park staff in a photo frame
Staff and visitors to the DCR Blue Hills Reservation First Day Hike

“Many folks have made this their annual tradition,” said Maggi Brown, Visitor Services Supervisor. “We also see new smiling faces every year!”

DCR Blue Hills welcomes about 700-800 happy hikers to the trails every New Year’s Day. Parks across all 50 states now offer First Day Hikes.

Ontatio Parks is excited to be the first international participant in First Day Hikes! Hikes are also being led in British Columbia by the BC Parks Foundation’s Healthy by Nature program.

A park for all seasons

Winter in Ontario Parks is quiet, pristine, and absolutely beautiful.

Winter trail and bridge

Twenty-six provincial parks are open during the winter season, boasting a wide range of snowy fun, including skiing, skating and snowshoeing.

Interested in staying the night? Stay warm and cozy in one of our heated yurts, cabins, or cottages. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK.

Ready to hit the trails?

Don’t forget to tag us in your #FirstDayHike snapshots on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Kick that turkey coma, hop off the couch, and bundle up: we’re going on a First Day Hike!