21 Places To Take A First Day Hike In NJ For A Fresh New Year

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Want a fresh and peaceful start to 2024? Get outdoors on New Year’s Day with a First Day Hike—guided free hikes in New Jersey state parks, forests, and historical sites for all ages. Scroll down for the First Day Hikes in NJ happening this year, then bundle up the family, grab your water bottles, and get going—with the fresh air and good vibes, it’s the best way to start 2024. And for more hikes around NJ, be sure to check out our guide for the best hiking trails and toddler-friendly hiking trails for littles. (featured photo credit: iStock/Solovyova)

Start the year off right with one of these First Day Hikes in NJ

Northern NJ

High Point “First Day Challenge” Hike
This hike has the highest point in NJ, and many mountain ridge tops offer 360-degree views. Registration is required. This is more strenuous for ages 12 and up.
Meeting Location: Appalachian Trail parking lot – Route 23, Montague, NJ 12771

Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee 39th Annual New Year’s Day Hike
This 4-5 mile hike is for the whole family. Registration is required. This moderate walk is open to all families as long as children are with a responsible adult.
Meeting Location: 1 Footbridge Lane, Blairstown, NJ 07825

Self-Guided First-Day Hikes at Liberty
Take one of three self-guided trails with beautiful views at Liberty State Park. This easy-to-moderate hike is open to all ages and requires no registration.
Meeting Location: Liberty State Park -200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Wawayanda Lake Circular
Take a scenic hike around Lake Wawayanda. This moderate hike is for ages 8 and up. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Wawayanda State Park – Beach Parking Lot – 885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt, NJ 07421

New Year’s Hike at Round Valley
Get off on the right foot and take a three-mile hike. This easy-to-moderate trail is open to everyone, and adults must accompany children. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Round Valley Recreation Area South Lot – 1220 Stanton Lebanon Rd, Lebanon, NJ 08833

Central NJ

Cheesequake First Day Hike
A park naturalist will provide information during this First Day Hike. This moderate walk is for all ages. Registration is not required.
Meeting Location: Cheesequake State Park Trailhead Parking Lot – 300 Gordon Rd, Matawan, NJ 07747

Princeton Nursery Lands First Day Hike
Take an easy 1.5-mile hike through the Mapleton Preserve. Make sure to stay for hot cocoa afterward. Children are welcome with adults. No registration is needed.
Meeting Location: Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Office – 145 Mapleton Road, Princeton, NJ 08540

New Year’s Day Beach Hike – Seaside Park
A bonfire and s’mores are at the end of this First Day Hike around Island Beach State Park. This easy hike is open to all ages, and registration is required.
Meeting Location: Island Beach State Park, 2207 SW Central Ave, Seaside Park, NJ 08752, Pavilion at Swimming Area 1

Perrine Hill and Sutfin Farm Hiking Tour
Learn about this Revolutionary War battle spot while traversing the first hike of 2024. This moderate hike is open to ages 10 and up. Registration is not required.
Meeting Location: Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center – 20 Business Rte. 33, Manalapan, NJ 07726

New Year’s Day Climb
Celebrate the history at the top of the North Tower at Twin Lights by climbing 64 steps to the top. This easy hike is open to all ages. No registration is required.
Meeting Location: Twin Lights Historic Site – 2 Light House Road, Highlands, NJ 07732

Old Dutch New Year: Talk of the Taverns
Walk in historic Somerset and learn about George Washington’s Passage through the area 245 years ago. The hike will be 3 miles, and it is for all ages. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage Parking Lot – 71 Somerset Street, Somerville, NJ 08876

Starting 2024 On The Right Foot
Walk the D&R Canal’s most southern towpath and start 2024 on an active note. This hike is considered easy and is 6 miles round trip. Children under 10 are welcome but need to be with an adult. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Scenic Overlook (Access from Northbound Interstate-295, Hamilton Township, NJ 08611. 

Be The First To Hike Allaire
Approximately four miles long, here is your chance to be one of the first to hike Allaire State Park with the fam. This hike is moderate, and ages 5+ are welcome, along with dogs on leashes. Unfortunately, this is not wheelchair or stroller-friendly.
Meeting Location: Allaire State Park – 4265 Atlantic Ave. Farmingdale, NJ 07727 – Main Parking Lot at Allaire Village

Southern NJ

First Day Dog Hike
Explore Cape May County and bring your dog, too. This moderate trail is for ages 10 and up. Registration is not required.
Meeting Location: Belleplain State Forest Office – 1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine, NJ 08270

Belleplain First Day Nature Education Hike
Take a nature walk in Belleplain State Forest. This easy walk is for ages 10 and up. Registration is not required.
Meeting Location: Belleplain State Forest Office – 1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine, NJ 08270

Brendan Byrne First Hike of the Year
Take a look at nature, wildlife, and Reeves’ Bog. This easy hike is for all ages. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Forest Rd, Browns Mills, NJ, 08015

Discover Double Trouble First Day Jaunt
Explore the historic village, Mill Pond Trail, and Cedar Creek. This easy trail is open to ages 10 and over. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: 581 Pinewald Keswick Road, Bayville, NJ 08721

Parvin First Day Winter Walk
Celebrate the new year with a hike at Parvin State Park. Children with parents and guardians are welcome. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Parvin State Park Office – 701 Almond Road, Pittsgrove, NJ 08318

The Resilient Pine Barrens Guided Walk
Take a 2-mile, guided interpretive walk in the Pinelands National Reserve to start the New Year. This moderate hike lasts approximately 90 minutes, and kids aged 10 and up are welcome with an adult. Registration is required.
Meeting Location: Batsto Visitor Center in historic Batsto Village at 31 Batsto Road Hammonton, NJ 08037

Carranza Monument To Apple Pie Hill Hike and Tower Climb
Take a hike to Apple Pie Hill before you stop for a lunch break, and climb the tower before returning to Carranza. Children ages 10 and older are welcome.
Meeting Location: Carranza Monument, Carranza Road, Tabernacle Township, NJ 08088

First Day Hike at Bass River
Start the new year at New Jersey’s first state forest. This scenic hike will take you through some historic sites and is an easy hike, lasting 2 miles. Afterward, warm up with some hot cocoa or tea. All ages are welcome, and registration is not required.
Meeting Location: Bass River State Forest, 762 Stage Road, Bass River Twp 08224, at the office

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