Virginia First Day Hikes Start the New Year Right

Updated on November 28, 2023 by Julie McCool

Virginia First Day Hikes are a great way to kick off the new year with healthy, family-friendly fun at parks around the state. People all over the country start the new year with new exercise goals. On January 1st, America's State Parks support personal and family fitness with special events and guided hikes.

If fitness and health are part of your New Year's Resolutions, First Day Hikes are a perfect way to start the new year. All Virginia State Parks celebrate the new year with free park entry, special programs, and plenty of trails if you want to head out on your own.

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Fairfax County Parks also join the fitness fun with a First Hike Fairfax photo contest and prizes. Regional parks and battlefields are other options for First Day Hikes, and you can always plan your own outing. Read on for information and tips to plan your own Virginia First Day Hikes.

Sky Meadows State Park VA

Find more great Virginia trails: Northern Virginia Hikes and Favorite Bike Trails Near DC.

Northern Virginia State Park First Day Hikes

Every year Virginia State Parks encourages everyone to start the new year outdoors with First Day Hikes. In 2024 there are both ranger-led hikes and self-guided hiking opportunities. Happily, admission and parking are free at all Virginia State Parks on January 1, 2024.

Guided hikes at Northern Virginia State Parks are ideal for families, infrequent hikers, and anyone who'd like to explore a park with a group. Everyone is also welcome to skip the guided events and create their own First Day Hikes at Virginia State Parks.

Here are four beautiful Virginia State Parks in Northern VA where you can enjoy a variety of First Day Hikes. Find schedule details on the VA State Parks website.

First Day Hikes at Leesylvania State Park

Leesylvania State Park in winter
Winter at Leesylvania State Park

In 2024, Leesylvania State Park encourages First Day hikers to explore park trails on their own. For example, we suggest a Leesylvania State Park Hike Through History which includes a scenic view and several historic sites. Leashed dogs are welcome at the park.

First Day Hikes at Mason Neck State Park

Bay View Trail Fall Hike in Mason Neck State Park
Fall Hike Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park has a fun collection of trails from easy to moderate in difficulty. In 2024, the park will welcome First Day hikers with several ranger-led hikes of varying lengths throughout the day. Mason Neck is a dog-friendly park, but your four-legged friend must be on a leash at all times.

Sky Meadows State Park First Day Hikes

Thistle and View from the Piedmont Overlook in Sky Meadows State Park VA
Piedmont Overlook View Sky Meadows Park

Start the new year with a stunning sunrise when you hike to one of the overlooks at Sky Meadows State Park. The gates open at 5:30 AM on New Year's Day and admission to the park is free all day.

Later, enjoy ranger-led hikes beginning at 10:00 and 1:00. Or strike out on your own on this beautiful Sky Meadows Loop Hike to Virginia Piedmont Views. Leashed dogs are welcome.

Sweet Run State Park First Day Hikes

Fall Foliage at Gordon Pond, Sweet Run State Park in Northern Virginia
Fall Foliage Gordon Pond Sweet Run State Park

The new year is a great time to visit Virginia's newest park, Sweet Run State Park. Rangers will lead two First Day Hikes at Sweet Run. At 9:30, join a moderate 5-mile hike to Gordon Pond and the Legacy Loop Trail. Or at 1:30 join a Family Friendly 4-Senses Scavenger Hike near the Nature Play Area.

Of course, everyone is welcome to explore the Sweet Run Park's 11 miles of trails on their own as well. Leashed dogs are welcome on all trails.

Shenandoah River State Park First Day Hikes

Join two guided hikes at Shenandoah River State Park then enjoy refreshments at the Visitor Center. You can also explore 24 miles of trails on your own, from an easy riverside walk to steeper and longer trails. Leashed dogs are welcome at the park.

First Hike Fairfax at County Parks

The Fairfax County Park Authority joins in the New Year fun with its own First Day Hikes to get you outside and on the trail. In 2024, hikers can enter a photo contest with special prizes.

Here's how the contest works:

  • Take a hike at any of the Fairfax County Parks on January 1 and take some photos.
  • Upload your favorite photo from your hike to enter the First Hike Photo Contest. There are several categories including Best in Show for Landscapes, Wildlife, People, and Pets.
  • Prizes include $100 and $75 Park Authority Gift Cards and Rec Center fast passes in several photo categories.

New in 2024, naturalists will host guided hikes at Burke Lake Park to enjoy the first sunrise and sunset of the year. Find more info and a full list of photo contest rules on the Fairfax Parks website.

Photographers at Huntley Meadows Park Northern VA
Photographers at Huntley Meadows Park

Here are a few of our favorite Fairfax County park trails perfect for a First Day hike:

First Day Hikes in Prince William County

Neabsco Creek Boardwalk, a beautiful boardwalk trail in Northern Virginia
Neabsco Creek Boardwalk Trail

Start the new year with Virginia First Day Hikes on these Prince William County trails:

Will you be kicking off the new year with Virginia First Day Hikes? Happy hiking!

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Enjoy Virginia First Day Hikes at Virginia State Parks and Fairfax County Parks with special events and contests.
First Day Hikes