Dozens of hearty souls are expected to take a hike New Year's Day in Berkshire County, courtesy of the state park system.

Mount Greylock Reservation and Beartown State Forest are among the 11 state parks participating in the annual First Day Hikes, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The Greylock hike is scheduled for 1 p.m. on the Bradley Farm Trail near the Visitors Center off Rockwell Road in Lanesborough. Those wishing to traverse the Benedict Pond Loop Trail at Beartown should meet at the park's main entrance in Monterey at 12:30 p.m.

The First Day Hikes tradition began more 20 years ago in Massachusetts, evolving into a national event with all 50 states hosting the New Year's activity.

State park officials say the hikes are a great way to promote outdoor winter recreation, which has its advantages over the summer and fall.

"No bugs and no foliage, which allows you to have a great view through the forest," said Alec Dillman, supervisor of Mount Greylock's visitor center. "It's also a great opportunity to view a variety of surroundings while engaging the elements."

The hikes -- free of charge -- are led by each park's staff and could encompass two or more groups if their is a large turnout, according to Dillman.

Last year's First Day Hike at Pittsfield State Forest drew 70 people.

If winter hiking is on one's to-do list to start 2014, Dillman encourages proper attire for the walk through the woods. Very cold temperatures are forecast.

"Wear study, waterproof footwear, layered clothes and you can bring ski poles or hiking poles for stability along the trail," he said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233

First Day Hikes

On New Year's Day, two local state parks are participating in the annual First Day Hikes to promote outdoor exercise during the winter.

n Benedict Pond Loop trail at Beartown State Forest, Monterey, 12:30 p.m. Park at the main entrance in Monterey at boat ramp/trailhead parking lot across from Blue Hill Road.

n Bradley Farm Trail at the base of Mount Greylock State Reservation, Lanesborough, 1 p.m. Meet at the Visitors Center at 30 Rockwell Road.

For information on the hikes and other Department of Conservation and Recreation activities and events go to www.mass.gov/dcr.