Hit the Trail on New Year’s Day

By on December 30, 2012

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation sponsors free “First Day” family hikes in State Parks across New York on New Year’s Day, as a way to connect children and parents with the great outdoors even – or maybe especially – in winter.

The hikes in Letchworth State Park are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at Trailside Lodge. Participants are urged to arrive half an hour early to register. Hot chocolate and cookies will follow at 3 p.m. along with certificates and bookmarks. There are two levels to choose from:

•Families with younger children: Journey on a wooded loop less than one mile on nearly level terrain near Trailside Lodge past the Trout Pond and frozen bogs.

•Families with older children: Two mile loop to Inspiration Point, the Glen Iris Fountain and Middle Falls with more than 200’ descent and 200’ ascent along trails, roads and stairs.

First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views and vistas unimpeded by foliage. Wildlife that might be spied along these walks will almost certainly include the tough and sturdy chickadees and a variety of woodpeckers. Keep an eye out for the tracks of deer, squirrels, mice or fox and maybe catch a glimpse of the track maker.

In preparation for each hike, pay close attention to the details of starting time and location. Dress warmly; wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves; bring water.

Many interpretive programs meet at Trailside Lodge. The lodge can be reached via the Castile Entrance. (The Portageville entrance is often closed in the winter. The park road between Perry and Castile entrances is also closed.) Vehicle use fees (only at Castile entrance) are in effect snowy weekends and holidays, when Trailside Lodge is operating, December – March, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cars $8. Buses $35/$75.