First Day Hikes around New Jersey

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At NJMOM, we’re all about starting the New Year off on the right foot with a fun, family-friendly hike. Every New Year’s Day, the New Jersey State Park Service hosts 27 guided hikes, 2 mountain bike rides and 1 horseback ride in state parks, forests and historic sites as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes program. From Barnegat Lighthouse to Washington Crossing State Park, these free First Day Hikes offer a fun incentive to get outside, explore, exercise, enjoy nature, and celebrate the New Year with family and friends in one of one New Jersey’s state parks.first day hikes

Share this article with a friend and inspire them to join you for a fun and healthy way to start your New Year.

Here’s a couple of our favorite hikes around New Jersey:

For a full list of First Day Hikes, please visit NJDEP’s website.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

New Year’s Day Bird Walk
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Barnegat Inlet is a wonderful location to find birds that are normally tough to find elsewhere in New Jersey. Take a walk from the lighthouse to the end of the jetty, looking for winter birds, including loons, eiders, ducks, and more, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Barnegat State Park.
Hike Info: Easy-Moderate ~ 1.5 walking mostly on sand. Children 10 and over, with responsible adult, are welcome.
Meeting Location: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006, at the state parking lot near the entrance.
Registration & Cancellation: Registration is not required and please check the State Parks Website or Facebook page for cancellation due to inclement weather.


Island Beach State Park               

New Year’s Day Beach Hike
2:00 p.m.-4:00p.m.
Join the Friends of Island Beach State Park for a hike across the barrier island. The hike starts at the Island Beach State Park Interpretive Center, and from there, hikers will travel through the maritime forest, rich with American holly and eastern red cedar, to the ocean and bay sides of Island Beach. Be sure to bring binoculars to observe the birds.
Hike Info: Easy ~ 1 miles. All are welcome, including well behaved dogs on leashes. Restrooms are available at the Interpretive Center.
Meeting Location: Interpretive/Nature Center, located 7 miles into the park.
Registration & Cancellation: Registration is required by visiting here. Registered participants will receive an email if the program is cancelled.

Liberty State Park                                                               

US Flag Plaza to Caven Point Beach Walk
Liberty State Park
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Join the Liberty State Park staff on a walk from US Flag Plaza to the Caven Point Beach. The walk will explore the man-made and natural shoreline of the Upper NY Bay, while remaining in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and the unique features of Caven Point Beach.
Hike Info: Easy to Moderate ~ 3 miles. All ages are welcome as are dogs on 6 ft leashes with responsible adults. The hike is about 3 miles roundtrip, and surfaces include paverstone, boardwalk, and sand.
Meeting Location: US Flag Plaza / Park Office, 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305. Parking is free and restrooms are located at the park office.
Registration & Cancellation: Registration is required. Please email your name, email, phone number and number of people in your party to Please note, hike is cancelled if icy/snowy weather. Be sure to check the Liberty State Park facebook page for more info. Registrants will be emailed the night before it is necessary to cancel.

Monmouth Battlefield State Park

Follow the Footsteps of Molly Pitcher
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
11 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Walk the ground where Molly Pitcher fought at Monmouth! Meet Dr. David Martin, President of the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield, at the Visitor Center for an overview of the Battle of Monmouth, then drive approximately 2 miles (in your own vehicle) to the northern section of the Park, and walk along the American lines to the position of Proctor’s Artillery and other sites associated with Molly Pitcher. Hikers will finish with a visit to the likely site of Molly Pitcher’s “well.” The length of this interpretive tour is subject to change depending on weather and conditions. The tour is over open fields and hills, and includes detailed information about troop movements at the Battle of Monmouth.
Hike Info: Moderate ~ 2 miles. Hikers will move at a slow pac over open fields with uneven surfaces.
Children age 10 and over with parent/guardian are welcome. Service animals only. No restrooms along hike.
Meeting Location: Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center, 20 Business Rte. 33, Manalapan, NJ 07726 (about 2 miles west of Freehold Raceway Mall, Route 33 entrance)
Registration & Cancellation: Registration is recommended, but not required. For more information, email David Martin at The hike will be cancelled if there’s snow, ice or rain. To check on the status, call the Park office at 609-529-5356 on 1/1.

Washington Crossing State Park

From Ferry to Ferry – 100 horses, 18 cannons, and the wagons
Washington Crossing State Park/Johnson Ferry House                                               
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Enjoy a guided walk of the route taken by the “staff” of the Continental Army on Christmas Night, 1776 across the Delaware River into New Jersey. Sights and stops along the hike include the Washington Crossing Bridge, the Nelson House, the Ferry Boat replica, the pedestrian bridge, overlook, the Stone Barn, and the Johnson Ferry House.
Hike Info: Interpretive Tour/Easy to Moderate ~ 1.2 miles. Children of 10 years and older with responsible adult are welcome. Be sure to bring cameras, binoculars, note pad, water and snacks if desired. Service dogs and calm, well trained dogs on a leash welcome.
Meeting location: Begin at McKonkey’s Ferry Tavern in Washington Crossing Historic Park, PA (Hike will end at Washington Crossing State Park, NJ)
Registration & Cancellation: Registration is required. To register and/or for more information, call (609)737-2515 or 609-737-0623  or email

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