Are you ready to start a new tradition for the new year?
Take a hike!
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’ll feel great after spending some time in the frosty fresh air to ring in 2021!
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.
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.
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.
First Day Hikes are even endorsed by doctors themselves. Dr. Melissa Lem is a family physician and director of Park Prescriptions for the BC Parks Foundation.
“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. “We are delighted to be helping Canadians celebrate the arrival of a new year, but encouraging them to get outside in a safe and healthy way!”
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.
“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.
Here in Canada, the BC Parks Foundation also hosts First Day Hikes and encourages people to get outside and celebrate. Ontario Parks is proud to work with them promote the tradition of a hike on New Year’s Day.
While there won’t be guided walks or organized events this year, it’s fun to know that other people across North America are out celebrating the new year and the benefits of nature!
A park for all seasons
Winter in Ontario Parks is quiet, pristine, and absolutely beautiful.
Thirty-one 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?
Start planning your First Day Hike now. Make sure you’re ready for the weather, and continue to follow public health advice, including physical distancing.