Step Into The New Year With Free Oregon State Parks Guided Hikes

North Falls At Silver Falls State Park. Photo by Bill Young via Flickr CC2.

Get ready to lace up your hiking boots and start the new year with adventure and fresh air! On New Year's Day 2024 Oregon State Parks are offering a unique opportunity to explore the beauty of the Beaver State through guided 'First Day Hikes.' These hikes aren't just ordinary strolls in the park—they're led by knowledgeable rangers and enthusiastic volunteers who are ready to share the wonders of 31 different state parks.

First Day Hikes - Free Hikes On January 1st, 2024 In 31 Oregon State Parks

Spring Creek at Collier Memorial State Park.
At Collier Memorial State Park. Photo by JATomlinson.

One of the best parts of these First Day Hikes are that they're free! And for anyone worrying about parking fees, good news—the usual $5 day-use parking fee is being waived for the day in parks that typically require a permit.

The wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park at night with stars overhead.
The wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens is a popular spot to take photos. Photo by John DelToro via Flickr CC2.

This whole shindig is part of a nationwide program sponsored by America's State Parks. The aim? To get everyone out and about, breathing in some fresh air and connecting with nature as the calendar flips to a new year. Oregon's been part of this cool initiative since 2012, and it's only getting better with time.

Sunset at Harris Beach
Sunset at Harris Beach. Photo by Darkfur93 via Flickr CC2.

For 2024, there will be 34 guided hikes across 31 Oregon State Parks. The idea is to give locals a chance to discover new trails close to home or to venture out to a park they've never visited. This year, they're making a special effort to include more info about trail accessibility online. Be sure to visit the First Day Hikes website if you need to request reasonable accommodations to participate.

best waterfalls in oregon
Fog at South Falls at Silver Falls State Park. Photo by Shinglesware via Flickr CC2.

To get the scoop on where these hikes are happening, hop onto the Oregon First Day Hikes web page. You'll find details like hike times, where to meet up, and what kind of terrain to expect. Oh, and a heads-up—some hikes need you to sign up in advance.

If you're planning to join, remember that it will be winter and that weather will be chilly. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water. Binoculars are a great idea too if you're into wildlife spotting.

Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park. Photo by David Lee via Flickr CC2

Each of these free hikes will be led by a ranger or volunteer who's ready to dish out interesting tidbits about the park's history, geology, wildlife, and plants. It's like a walking nature documentary!

Some of the parks joining the fun on January 1st, 2024 include Bullards Beach State Park, Champoeg State Heritage Site, Elija Bristow State Park, Smith Rock State Park, Silver Falls State Park, and many more. Get the full list of participating parks and hikes here.

oregon state parks champoeg
Champoeg State Park. Image via / Oregon State Parks

We think you'll also enjoy reading about the gorgeous Ecola State Park on the Oregon coast as well as these 13 Oregon State Parks that you might not have known about.