First Day Hikes: Dozens expected on Mount Greylock trail to mark 25-year tradition
LANESBOROUGH — Dozens of men, women and children are expected to hike the base of Mount Greylock Reservation on Friday to mark a nationwide New Year's Day tradition born in Massachusetts 25 years ago.
Mount Greylock is among the 11 state parks participating in the annual First Day Hikes, sponsored by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Greylock hike is scheduled for noon on the Bradley Farm Trail near the Visitors Center off Rockwell Road in Lanesborough and lasts about 90 minutes.
Massachusetts originated the First Day Hikes in 1992, and by 2012, all 50 states hosted the New Year's activity.
Greylock has been a regular part of the DCR lineup of New Year's Day hikes the past several years, drawing a mix of regular visitors and newcomers to the reservation, according to Becky Barnes, DCR's mountain district manager for North Berkshire, which includes Greylock. She expects 80 to 100 hikers on Friday, about average for the event.
"We have some of the same hikers, some new, but always very busy every year," Barnes said.
State park officials say the hikes are a great way to promote outdoor winter recreation, something DCR Commissioner Leo Roy wholeheartedly endorses — and partakes in when he can.
"I love the ability to walk out the door and take advantage of our parks," he said. "The out-of-doors is my cathedral."
Roy plans to hike Blue Hills State Reservation in Milton, which was the site of the original First Day Hike. Twenty years later, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor America's State Parks First Day Hikes, which has become the signature nationwide program for the National Association of State Park Directors. Last year, over 997 First Day Hikes were held in state parks across the country with a record-breaking 41,153 people logging 79,892 miles of hiking, according to the DCR.
Roy believes the promotion has been a boost to participating parks in the commonwealth.
"Our parking lots are full with hikers enjoying the outdoors and fresh air," he said.
The hikes — free of charge — are led by each park's staff and at Mount Greylock usually encompass two or more groups due to the large turnout, often a social gathering for many of the participants.
"I am surprised the number of people who come that don't like to hike alone; they love being on a guided hike," Barnes said.
DCR officials encourages proper attire for the walk through the woods. Hikers should wear study, waterproof footwear and layered clothes as temperatures are expected to be in the 30s. For extra stability on the trail, hikers can bring ski poles or hiking poles.