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1st Day of the New Year: 40 Hikes to Celebrate 150 Years of California State Parks

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Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve
Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve  | Photo: slworking2/Flickr/Creative Commons License

2014 will be a big year for notable anniversaries in California's great outdoors. It's the 50th for the Wilderness Act and John Muir Historic Site, the 30th for California's version of the wilderness act, and the 20th for the California Desert Protection Act, which elevated Death Valley and Joshua Tree to national park status while creating Mojave National Preserve.

It will also be the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant, a pivotal piece of legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War that seeded the birth of not only national parks as we know them today, but the treasured state parks of California as well.

In June of 1864, the grant began the process of transferring Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove into California's hands "for public use, resort, and recreation, and shall be inalienable for all time," giving the state its first state parks. Three months later, Governor Frederick Lowe accepted the grant and appointed the first State Parks Commission.

To that end, California State Parks will be celebrating its sesquicentennial with events throughout 2014. And they're kicking it off on day one with 40 hikes (and one paddle event) at over 30 parks across the state. So you can start making plans now, here's the list in full:

Butte County

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area.
Lake Oroville State Recreation Area.  | Photo: CleftClips/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
If your New Year's resolution includes getting fit and having fun, then you are invited to start with a refreshing hike at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. Experienced docents will lead a free four-mile public hike to a remote part of Lake Oroville to a hidden camping site on the lake for a new perspective on a familiar landscape.

Meet at 9 a.m. at the entrance gate of the Visitor Center and plan to carpool out across the Bidwell Bar Bridge to the Forman Creek Recreation Area for an outing that will reveal a mix of discoveries about old history and modern recreational opportunities at Lake Oroville.

Bring a day pack with drinking water and snacks or a lunch. The walk will be across hilly, uneven ground. The plan is to return to the cars around 1 p.m. Dress for the weather. Bring rain gear if the forecast is for light or scattered rains. A prediction for heavy rain will cancel the outing.

This portion of the recreation area is classified as primitive so there is no running water, or flush toilets, and no manicured trails or paved roads beyond the staging area. Vehicles are required to stay on the pavement and park in designated areas. For more information, call the Lake Oroville Visitor Center, 530-538-2219.

Humboldt County

Humboldt Lagoons State Park
Humboldt Lagoons State Park  | Photo: phoca2004/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Humboldt Lagoons State Park
Humboldt Lagoons State Park will offer a unique First Day Paddle on Stone Lagoon on New Year's Day. The easy to moderate level paddle event starts at 10 a.m. There are no age restrictions.

Participants should meet at the Stone Lagoon Visitor Center, 115336 Highway 101, Trinidad, CA, 95570. Bring your kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board and your gear. Dress for the water in synthetic layers, a wetsuit or a dry suit and shoes that can get wet. Sit-on-top kayaks, wetsuits and other gear can be rented on site from a private outfitter at the park. Additionally, be sure to bring: sunscreen, drinking water, change of clothes, lunch, and a jacket or windbreaker. Winds over 10 mph or heavy rain wil cancel the outing. Drizzle or light showers will not cancel.

Standish Hickey State Recreation Area Take a hike on the 1.7-mile Natural Trail and enjoy a 360-degree vista of the region to start the new year. The hike starts at 11 a.m. and will last about 90 minutes. The trail is easy and wheelchair accessible. All ages are welcome to participate. Meet at the Taber Trailhead.

Be sure to wear layered clothing as the weather can be quite brisk in January. Any extreme inclement weather will cancel the walk. The park is located at 69350 U.S. Highway 101 near Leggett. The park phone number is (707) 925-6482.

Kern County

Red Rock Canyon State Park Visitors can participate in a vigorous nine-mile, all-day hike in Nightmare Gulch through desert terrain. The hike begins with a strenuous stretch of three ridges with an elevation gain/loss of approximately 1,100 feet. The hike then evens out and is easy to moderate. Hikers assemble at 9 a.m. at the Hagen Canyon Trailhead, off Abbot Road. Participants will be back by approximately 4 p.m. This hike is for those in good physical condition, ages 12 and up. Dogs are not recommended but may be brought on leash. Wear layered clothing and bring water and lunch. Hikers are responsible for their own health and safety. Visit www.redrockrrcia.org for more information.

Lake County

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
Anderson Marsh State Historic Park  | Photo: string_bass_dave/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park The Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association will host a New Year's Day hike on the McVicar Trail beginning at 12 p.m.. The five-mile, three-hour hike is considered moderate and is mostly level. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Meet at the parking lot at the Anderson Ranch House. The parking fee is $4 per vehicle ($3 for those 62 and older.) Wear sturdy shoes, dress in layers, and bring water and binoculars. Heavy rain will cancel the hike - call to confirm at (707) 995-2658.

Los Angeles County

Saddleback Butte State Park.
Saddleback Butte State Park.  | Photo: chucknado/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Saddleback Butte State Park
Park staff and volunteers will offer three First Day hiking options at Saddleback Butte State Park, which vary from an easy half mile hike to a strenuous five-mile hike up the butte. All hikes leave from the picnic area, 17102 East Avenue J, Lancaster (corner of 170th St E and East Avenue J, 19 miles east of Hwy 14, near Lake Los Angeles). Kids are welcome, but dogs are not allowed on trails in Saddleback ButteState Park. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the park's picnic area after returning from the hikes. Fundraising activities will also be offered to benefit the Save Saddleback Committee (cash or checks only).

Here are the hike offerings:

  • Hike to top of Saddleback Butte: Moderately strenuous beginning at 9 a.m. This is a five-mile roundtrip hike with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Bring water for the hike and wear good hiking shoes and layered clothing - it can be quite windy at the top.
  • Hike to the south end of the park: Beginning at 10 a.m. this is an easy to moderate hike, 4 1/2 miles long with little elevation gain. The hike should take about 1½ hours. Dress for the weather; bring water and a hat, and walking sticks are optional. You will enjoy the beautiful high desert views of our Antelope Valley; this is a great winter's hike.
  • Dowen Nature Trail: An easy hike starting at 11 a.m. Ranger-lead, interpretive tour along the nature trail. Learn about the unique natural and cultural history of the local area. This is a 1/2 mile loop with mild elevation gain. The track is wheelchair/stroller accessible.

For information on all three hikes call (661) 946-6092.
Santa Susana Pass State Park Start the New Year's with a First Day Hike at Santa Susana State Historic Park. Join others on a moderate 1.6 mile hike, open to all ages, on the Powerhouse Road & Larwin Loop Trail. The event starts at 11 a.m. and is expected to last about two hours. Meet at the Larwin Street Entrance,10200 Larwin Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Be sure to bring water and wear closed-toed shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirt. Rain cancels the hike, even light rain. Temperatures of 90 degrees and above also cancel. Dogs on leash are welcome. The park is primitive which means there are no restroom facilities. Please plan accordingly. Contact santasusana@parks.ca.gov for additional information.

Will Rogers State Historic Park Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades will offer a First Day Hike that includes both history and nature in an interpretive hike lead by Ranger John Conroy. Ranger Conroy has vast knowledge of the park, once home to the great movie and comedy star Will Rogers and home today to a wide variety of plants and animals. The three-mile hike starts in front of the Will Rogers House at 9 a.m. and will follow the ADA accessible Inspiration Loop Trail. This is a moderate hike following fire roads. There are no age restrictions. Please bring a water bottle, suntan lotion, snacks, and a jacket. Will Rogers State Historic Park is located at 1501 Will Rogers Park Road Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. Day use parking is $12.Please check in at the entrance kiosk, call (310) 454-8212, or Email wr.interp@parks.ca.gov for cancellation information.

Mendocino County

Van Damme State Park
Van Damme State Park  | Photo: Jimmy Coupe/Filckr/Creative Commons License

MacKerricher State Park Welcome the New Year with a First Day Hike at MacKerricher State Park. The easy wheelchair accessible guided hike will follow the Laguna Point Boardwalk beginning at 11 a.m. The hike is 2/3 of a mile round trip and will last about an hour and a half. All ages are welcome.

Bring binoculars for views from the bluff. Also wear a hat and layered clothing. It can be chilly on the Mendocino Coast in winter. Moderate to heavy rain or strong winds will cancel this event. Call (707) 961-0471 for more information.

Mendocino Headlands State Park Meet docent Jim Owens at the Ford House Visitor Center in Mendocino at 1 p.m. Walk out to the Mendocino Headlands to look for gray whales. Learn about the annual migration of gray whales between Alaska and Baja. This is an easy one- mile hike. Age 3 years is the minimum age for children on this walk. Rain will cancel this event. Wear layered clothing. Bring binoculars, water and a camera. For more information call 707- 937-5397.

Russian Gulch State Park Enjoy the Fern Canyon/Waterfall Trail to start the New Year. This strenuous to moderate 5.5-mile round -trip hike is mostly flat with occasional uphill sections. The event is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at Russian Gulch State Park Recreation Hall at bottom of hill, west of Highway 1.

The hike is for ages 10 and above. Bring snacks, water, hat and binoculars. Wear layered clothing. It can be chilly on the Mendocino Coast in winter. Moderate to heavy rain or strong winds will cancel this event. Call (707) 961-0471 for more information.

Van Damme State Park
Hike the Coastal Trail at the Spring Ranch portion of Van Damme State Park on New Year's Day. The hike is rated moderate to strenuous with one steep portion of trail and the rest more moderate. The hike starts at 10 a.m. and will last about two hours. The trail head is at Highway 1 and Gordon Lane, Mendocino, CA ,95460

This hike is recommended for ages 12 and above. The total mileage of the hike is 1 ½ miles round trip. Wear a hat. Bring binoculars. Wear layered clothing. It can be chilly on the Mendocino Coast in winter. Moderate to heavy rain or strong winds will cancel this event. Call (707) 961-0471 for more information.

Orange County

Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park  | Photo: waynewhuang/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Crystal Cove State Park Join docents or park staff for a First Day Hike on the 3-mile Loop Trail beginning at 9 a.m. Meet at the Outdoor Nature Center by using the School-State Park entrance, follow signs to the campground.

This is a moderately difficult trail. Children are welcome, but portions of the trail may challenge little legs. Be sure to bring water, a hat and sunscreen. There is a $15 per vehicle day-use fee. Rain will cancel. Park closed the day after rain so if in doubt call (949) 494-3539 or check www.crystalcovestatepark.com

San Onofre State Beach
Trek to Trestles and enjoy this beautiful beach setting. This is a moderate four-mile hike from the San Mateo Campground to the Trestles surf break and back. Take in the view at Trestles and continue on to the Church Surf spot for snack and photos. Then return via an inland trail.

The hike begins at 11 a.m. is will last about two hours. Meet at the San Mateo Campground Amphitheater. All ages are welcome. Bring water, shoes suitable for hiking, sunscreen and a hat. Inclement weather could cancel for cancellation Information contact Blythe Liles at blythe.liles@parks.ca.gov or 949.366.8503.

Placer County

Auburn State Recreation Area
Auburn State Recreation Area  | Photo: www78/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Auburn State Recreation Area The Auburn State Recreation Area Canyon Keepers will lead a hike on the Quarry Road Trail at 10 a.m. The group will meet at the trailhead parking area off Hwy. 49, 1/4 mile south of the river confluence bridge (approx. 2.5 miles south of Auburn towards Cool). The hike will be an easy seven-mile round -trip hike. Bring water and snacks. Heavy rain will cancel. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Questions can be directed to (530) 346-7032.

Riverside County

Lake Perris State Recreation Area
Lake Perris State Recreation Area |  Photo: Roy Ubu/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Lake Perris State Recreation Area Your family is invited to start the New Year fresh with a hike at Lake Perris State Recreation Area. At 10 a.m. staff will be leading a 2 -3 mile hike. This hike is moderate but there will be plenty of rest stops along the way. Bring water, appropriate footwear, and your camera for an awesome way to start the year. Because the hike doesinvolve uneven terrain and is strenuous at times we encourage that if children are brought that they are at least 10 years of age or have previous hiking experience. This event is free with park entrance which will be reduced for participants of the hike at $5 per vehicle (Normally $10). Please arrive 20 minutes early and park at the campfire center located on the upper road (Alta Calle) between Moreno Kiosk and the Horse Camp. If you have any questions please call (951) 940-5647. Rain will cancel the event.

Sacramento County

Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park | Photo: A. F. Litt/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Folsom State Recreation Area (Folsom Lake, Rattlesnake Bar) Learn the early history of the water ditches, early mining and settlement of Miner's Ravine and Avery Pond beginning at 9 a.m. at the Rattle Snake Bar parking lot. This is a moderate hike over uneven terrain with some rolling hills and off-trail walking. Please wear sturdy shoes and have water, sun protection and layered outwear. Children under 6 should be veteran hikers. This hike will proceed rain or shine. Call (916) 988-0205.

Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park (Folsom Powerhouse Historic Canal Trail and Tour of Powerhouse) Meet at the Folsom Powerhouse at 11 a.m. This is an easy trail and accessible with help of a friend or family member. Be sure to wear close-toed shoes. Heavy rain will shorten the hike to a guided tour of the powerhouse and visitor center. It is always good to have water, sun protection, and layered outerwear. For information call (916) 988- 0205.

San Benito County

Carnegie SVRA
Carnegie SVRA | Photo: sfbaywalk/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area Get an early start on the New Year with a First Day Off Highway Vehicle Ride On Tuesday, December31. Kick your new year off right by joining park staff and volunteers in a 2-½ mile ride to the weather station to enjoy sweeping views of the lights of the central valley and Corral Hollow Canyon. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with friends and family. Carnegie offers a unique way to do all of these things on your off-highway vehicle. Meet at the ranger station at 18600 W Corral Hollow Road, Tracy, CA, 95376 at 5 p.m. for an approximately 1-hour ride. San Diego County

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park | Photo: Janna McLaughlin/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Parks is offering two First Day Hikes both starting at 9 a.m.:

  • New Year's Day Resolution Hike: Hike Alcoholic Pass. Join volunteer naturalists Ron & Peg Poitras to experience and discover the prehistory, history, and present-day journey of those who have used this trail for food, water, work, and fun. This is a four- hour excursion into the pass covering two miles. Meet at the north end of DiGiorgio Road. This is a strenuous but relatively short hike, bring water, snacks and wear hiking boots. Minimum age is 8-years-old. In the event of inclement weather, check at Visitor Center (760) 767-4205 for cancellation notice.
  • Borrego Mountain West Butte: Join Volunteer Naturalists Mary Ekelund and Paul Larson for a moderate three-mile (round trip) hike to the top of one of our smaller peaks, but with great views. There will be some walking on narrow ridges and scrambling on rocks toward the summit. Meet just off Highway #78 at the intersection of Buttes Pass Road, 1.5 miles east of Borrego Springs Road. Bring water and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Children must be a minimum of 8 years-old. If inclement weather, check at Visitor Center (760) 767-4205 for cancellation notice.

San Elijo State Beach
Start the New Year with an easy one-hour walk along the Cardiff Reef Tide Pools and discover what lies beneath the waves in this educational tide pool tour The hike starts at 3 p.m. Meet at Campfire Center (Southern End of the Campground.) All ages are welcome to join the hike. Be sure to bring: water sturdy shoes and sun protection. The hike will be cancelled if raining. There is a $15 per vehicle day use fee. Call (760) 753-5091 for information.

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve Guided nature hikes in the Reserve are scheduled at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on New Year's Day. The trails to be used will vary and the difficulty will be varied to meet visitors' interests and abilities. Meet at the Lodge (visitor center.) There are no age restrictions. Be sure to bring water, a hat and sunscreen (yes even in January, this is San Diego.) Rain will cancel the hikes. No pets are allowed in the nature reserve. Food is only allowed at the beach, not in the Reserve, so be sure to plan mealtimes accordingly. For information call (858) 755-2063.

San Luis Obispo County

Morro Bay State Park "Morro Bay's Landmark & Legacy" events will begin on New Year's Day, in conjunction with California's State Park's 150th Anniversary Celebration. Please join us as we walk (all ages are welcome) for our inaugural Morro Bay 150th "Landmark" event and join in the nationwide First Day Hikes Program.

"1st Hike Morro Bay" takes place on New Year's Day at 3:30 p.m. and follows the California Coastal trail from Morro Rock. Our "Landmark" journey begins in true Morro Bay spirit when participants meet at the base of California State Historical Landmark - Morro Rock. Attendees will enjoy a truly natural experience as they walk on the water's edge on Morro Bay's natural beach during one of the lowest tides of the year. Outstanding views await of the community, Morro Rock, the surrounding open space, agricultural landscape the bay, and the open Pacific Ocean.

The hike is considered easy. Be sure to wear sturdy or athletic shoes for the three-mile round-trip hike. Bring water and sun protection. In the event of severe weather, this hike could be cancelled. Visit morrobay50th.com for up-to-date information regarding the hike.

Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area/Pismo State Beach Enjoy the New Year's with a First Day Hike on the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area and Pismo State Beach (we'll be in both parks.) The Grand Dune Trail traverses both parks and offers great views. This is a moderately difficult hike in dunes covering 5 to 8 miles.

Meet at the Pismo Beach Nature Center (555 Pier Ave, Oceano, CA 93445) at 12:30 p.m. There are no age restrictions on this 2 ½ to3 hour hike. Please bring water, sunscreen, snacks, a windbreaker and a hat. For information about the event a possible cancellation for weather go to: http://www.ccnha.org/pismo/index.html#docentled under Docent led walks.

San Mateo County

Pescadero State Beach
Pescadero State Beach | Photo: satosphere/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park Stroll in Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park Property on New Year's Day from 9 a.m.to 12 p.m. Take a journey back in time along Mills Creek where a variety of birds roam the skies and plant communities reach up toward the sun. This easy walk will be along a one-mile gravel ranch road (for a two-mile round trip) following the course of Mills Creek with only a small gain in elevation. Docent Avis Boutell will lead this guided walk. Along the way you will learn about the lives of early pioneers and farming families who settled here in the 19th century. The centerpiece of the park--a unique dairy barn at the end of the road--was built beginning in 1889. A heritage orchard on the property, probably planted around 1920, is being restored by volunteers organized through the California State Parks Foundation Park Champions program. Travel back in time today with plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Wear long pants, layered clothing and sturdy shoes. The trip is limited to 20 participants - please contact HMBParksVolunteer@parks.ca.gov or Angie at (650)726-8819 to reserve a space. Meet at Higgins-Purisima Road 1.5 miles east of Highway 1 Half Moon Bay, CA.

Pescadero State Beach Spend New Year's Day on the Pescadero Marsh Trail 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Take an easy stroll through the Pescadero Marsh where you may meet a variety of wildlife and lively bird species that use this important stop along the Pacific Flyway. Join State Parks Docent Rita Jennings for a guided walk on the mile-long Sequoia Audubon Trail. Explore the remnant levees from past farming and discover the byways of the Pescadero and Butano creeks as they race to the edge of the California Coast where they meet the Pacific Ocean in this restored marsh. Start your trek at the mid-parking lot of the Pescadero Beach, Highway 1, approximately ¼ mile north of Pescadero Creek Road, Pescadero, CA. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Wear layered clothing and sturdy shoes. The walk is two miles total. For questions please contact HMBParksVolunteer@parks.ca.gov or Angie at (650) 726-8819.

Santa Barbara County

Carpinteria State Beach
Carpinteria State Beach | Photo: Bill Gracey/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Carpinteria State Beach Take an invigorating hike New Year's Day at Carpinteria State Beach. The guided four-mile hike on the Ocean to the Mountain trail (including Franklin Trail) is part of the national First Day Hikes program and kicks off California State Parks' year-long 150th Anniversary commemoration.

The event starts at 9 a.m. from Carpinteria State Beach or 9:30 a.m. if beginning from Franklin Trail head. Meet at the Day Use Lot at Linden Ave, Carpinteria, CA.

This is an easy to moderate level hike with a 820-foot elevation gain. The activity is best for ages 10 and up, but there are no age restrictions. The hike covers four miles from Carpinteria State Beach or 2.5 miles if starting at the Franklin trial head. Bring water, snack, camera, good hiking/walking shoes, and sun protection. The hike will be canceled if raining. There are no restroom facilities. Dogs on leash are welcome.

The day use parking fee will be waived for participants parking at Carpinteria State Beach. Parking is available Carpinteria High School for just Franklin Trail portion of the hike. For further information call (805) 968-1033

Santa Cruz County

Big Basin State Park
Big Basin State Park | Photo: melfoody/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Big Basin State Park Enjoy a pair of New Year's Day events at the State's oldest redwood park.:

  • Grand Redwoods: Take a First Day Hike to meet grand redwoods in one of California oldest state parks. How do these grand redwoods grow to be so old? So tall? How are they important to humans? Join us for this fun and informative guided half-mile stroll through a magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Meet the famous Mother Tree, the Father of the Forest and the incredible Chimney Tree on this 90-minute walk. The trail is stroller and wheelchair accessible. Meet at the park Headquarters at 1 p.m. for information call (831) 338-8860.
  • Hot Beverages and Docent Wisdom: Enjoy hot beverages and docent wisdom to kick-off the New Year. Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Park Headquarters from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for free coffee or hot chocolate. This is a great way to start your day (and year) in Big Basin. Docent Norm Beeson will be happy to answer your questions about the park and help get you going on the right trail. And bring the kids for a fun craft activity. Call (831) 338-8860 for information.

Henry Cowell State Park

  • "A River Wild": Take a "A River Wild" New Year's Day First Day hike with docent Barry Grimm. On this 4-hour / 5-mile moderate-pace hike, we'll visit some of the park's less traveled "backcountry". Initially traversing old growth Redwood and Douglas-fir forest, we'll descend into the San Lorenzo River canyon and take our lunch break on river side sand bars. The maximum elevation change is about 500 feet. The hike is suitable for adults, and young adults who are diligent hikers. Dress in layers for changeable weather and temperatures. Bring sturdy walking shoes, water and a trail-side lunch. Meet at 11 a.m. front of the Nature Store (edge of parking lot) at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Enter the park from Hwy 9 just south of downtown Felton, CA. Heavy rain cancels. For more information call (831) 335-7077.
  • Observation Deck: Join docent Joel Hill on an Observation Deck Hike New Year's Day. On this 3 1/2-hour / 4-5-mile moderate hike we'll explore four amazingly different habitats - riverside (riparian) broadleaf forest, old growth redwood forest, upland pine-oak woodland and the rare and endangered Santa Cruz sand hills. Because these diverse habitats are very close together with abrupt transition zones we can experience a wide variety of plants and animals in a very short distance. From the park's Observation Deck we'll enjoy 360-degree views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay. Maximum elevation gain is about 500 feet. The hike is suitable for adults, and young adults who are diligent hikers. Dress in layers for changeable weather and temperatures. Bring walking shoes, water, sun protection and snacks. Meet at 12 noon in front of the Mountain Parks Nature Store (edge of parking lot) at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Heavy rain cancels. For more information call (831) 335-7077.
  • Critter Safari: Go on a "Critter Safari" First Day Hike with docent Nancy Parker. On this two-hour leisurely walk we'll uncover the tracks and other "signs" that animals leave. We'll reconstruct the hidden lives of deer, hawks, ducks, bobcat, lizards and more - to see how they survive in our rivers, forests and grasslands. Children from age 6 are encouraged - when accompanied by a parent. Dress in layers for changeable weather and temperatures. Bring walking shoes and water. Meet at 1 p.m. in front of the Mountain Parks Nature Store (edge of parking lot). Heavy rain cancels. For more information call (831) 335-7077.

Natural Bridges State Park Spend New Year's Day with the Monarchs. Stroll along the half-mile boardwalk with a park docent to discover the qualities of the park's gently sloped, tree-filled arroyo that provides sanctuary to park visitors, ample wildlife and an overwintering population of monarch butterflies that cluster in the trees at Natural Bridges State Beach. There's always much to see in the grove, if the butterflies are gone, we'll enjoy a nature walk. The monarch butterfly boardwalk is wheelchair and stroller accessible. This easy hike begins at 2 p.m. at the visitor center. Please leave pets at home. For information call (831) 423-4609.

Wilder Ranch State Park
Enjoy the coast nature walk on this 2.5-mile easy to moderate hike you will explore the plants, animals, and geology of the spectacular coastal bluffs with Wilder Ranch with Docents Liz Ryan and Bill Perry. Meet at the Wilder Ranch Interpretive Center at 11 a.m. for the two-hour guided hike. Bring a snack, water, binoculars, and wear good walking shoes. Rain cancels. For information call (831) 423-9703.

Sonoma County

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park | Photo: eekim/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Jack London State Historic State Park Get a great workout for the new year on an 8 to10 mile hike on the Mountain Trail. This moderate to strenuous hike will climb from the Ranch parking lot to 2,300-foot Park. Summit. Things to bring include water, snacks and wear sturdy shoes. Rain cancels this outing. For information call (707) 938-5216.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Celebrate the New Year and 150 years of California State Parks with a hike to the summit of Bald Mountain. This 6.5 to 7-mile hike (final route will be determined by trail conditions) will include a climb of 1,500 feet and amazing views of Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and San Francisco. The hike begins at 10 a.m. and will return around 2:30 p.m. The hike will start from the visitor center. This is a strenuous hike and not recommended for children under the age of 13. Be prepared for inclement weather and pack water and a lunch. No fees or RSVP needed. Meet at the main day use parking lot. Bob Long and Laura Blatt will lead the outing. For more information contact the park website (www.sugarloafpark.org) or park phone (707) 833-5712.

Tulare County

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park | Photo: mlhradio/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Enjoy a walk through the community of Allensworth and learn about this unique town's history. There will be two hikes beginning 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and each will last approximately two hours. Meet at the visitor center in the park.

This is an easy ¾ of a mile hike and all ages are invited. Bring water, lunch or snacks, camera, good walking shoes, umbrella, and layered clothing. This hike will go rain or shine. Call (661) 849-3433 for any questions.

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