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'First Day Hikes' Offered at 32 State Parks

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Dec 27, 2016 11:25 AM |

Free, guided hikes and snowshoe trips will be offered all across the state on January 1. Additionally, New Year's Day is a fee-free day. No Discover Pass is required.

Start off 2017 in style with a hike. Not sure where to go? No worries, 32 Washington state parks are offering free guided hikes, snowshoe trips and fat-tire bike rides. Trips will feature a variety of landscapes, including both scenic and historic sites. Most parks will have free refreshments available.

  • For details on any of the hikes below, including difficulty, age recommendations and whether dogs are allowed, check out the Washington State Parks blog.
  • Note that January 1 is a fee-free day in all state parks: a Discover Pass is not required to park, so you can also make your own first-day adventures. (Sno-Park permits are still required on free days at designated Sno-Parks during the winter season.)
  • If you’re going to be out of the state on New Years Day, similar events are planned all across the country.

Here are the Washington events planned, separated by county:

Asotin County

Fields Spring State Park: A moderate 2-mile roundtrip snowshoe hike, with an optional climb to some additional views. A limited number of snowshoes will be available for rent for those who arrive 20 minutes early. Meet at 10 a.m. at the trailhead near Puffer Butte Lodge parking area, at the end of Park Road—off Hwy. 129 near Anatone.

Chelan County

Lake Chelan State Park, Chelan: An easy 2.5-mile hike on the Little Bear trail. Depending on snowfall, snowshoes may be necessary. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Lake Chelan State Park office.

Lake Wenatchee State Park, near Leavenworth : Depending on the level of snow, this 1.8-mile moderate loop hike will be on foot or by snowshoe. Meet at 11 a.m. at the north entrance of the park near the reservation booth. Following the hike, at 2 p.m., the Annual Polar Bear Dip will take place at the South Park.

Lake Wenatchee winter
Lake Wenatchee in winter. Photo by trip reporter jdk610.

Clark County

Battle Ground Lake State Park, Battle Ground: Hikers can choose either a 1-mile or 2-mile easy to moderate route on the Upper and Lower Lake trails. The hike circles the rim of an old volcano and the edge of Battle Ground Lake. Meet at 1 p.m. at the picnic shelter in the day-use area.

Douglas County

Bridgeport State Park, Bridgeport: Explore the flora, fauna and geology of this section of the Columbia River with a park ranger, while learning about the principles of Leave No Trace. This easy-to-moderate hike can be a 2- or 4-mile round trip. Meet at 9 a.m. at the boat launch parking lot.

Lincoln Rock State Park, East Wenatchee: Parks staff will offer a hike and bike tour of the park and a portion of the Rocky Reach Trail, while providing historical, local and geographic information about the area on this easy 2-mile route.  Meet at 11 a.m. at the park’s day-use shelter.

Franklin County

Columbia Plateau Trail State Park, Pasco: A moderate 2-hour round-trip bicycle ride to the portion of the trail between Ice Harbor Dam Trailhead and the Snake River Junction Trailhead. Learn about the principles of Leave No Trace, while enjoying a brisk ride along this trail with scenic views of the Snake River. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Ice Harbor Dam Trailhead, east of Pasco.

Palouse Falls State Park, near Starbuck: Take a 2-hour, moderate round-trip hike featuring incredible views of Palouse Falls, Washington’s official state waterfall. Learn about the area’s flora, fauna and geology, while discussing the principles of Leave No Trace. Meet at noon, at the lower parking lot. Carpooling is recommended as the parking lot is small.

Grant County

Sun Lakes—Dry Falls, near Coulee City: The day’s activities will depend on weather conditions and participants’ preference. Meet at 10 a.m., at the Dry Falls Visitor Center for an overview of the geology of Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park. From there, the tour will either take off to Sun Lakes or Lake Lenore Caves, depending on the level of interest from the group. The hike will be a moderate 4 to 5 miles.

Grays Harbor

Lake Sylvia State Park, Montesano: A park ranger will lead an easy 2-mile hike along the trail that loops around Lake Sylvia, a lovely lowland walk through old-growth forests. A volunteer from the Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia will lead a shorter stroll. Learn about the history of the lake area, and discuss native plants and wildlife. Meet at 1 p.m. at the park’s kitchen area.

Island County

Cama Beach Historical State Park, Camano Island: The park will offer two hikes. The first, more moderate hike will venture 2.6 miles through the forest to explore flora, fauna and history on the way to Cranberry Lake, with great bird-watching and a chance to see beaver activity along the trail. The second, easier hike invites participants to step back in time and learn more about the Cama Beach Resort era history. The Cranberry Lake hike starts at noon, leaving from the drop-off shelter. The second hike starts at 2 p.m. and leaves from the Cama Center.

Camano Island State Park, Camano Island: This park also will offer two hikes. The first hike, about 2.75 miles, will be at a moderate pace, focused primarily on exercise with minimal stops, and taking people along the beach and into the woods. The second hike is an easier hike of less than a half mile, along the Marsh Trail. The first hike starts at noon, and the second hike starts at 2 p.m. Both hikes leave from the park’s kitchen shelter

Deception Pass State Park, Oak Harbor: Take a moderate 2.5-mile hike along the Goose Rock Trail to the top of the peak and back. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Cornet Bay Retreat Center. Following the hike, enjoy treats, games and entertainment at the retreat center.

Fort Casey Historical State Park, Coupeville: Stroll through the park and up to Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Meet at 1:30 p.m., at the kiosk display between the main parking lot and Battery Worth.

Fort Ebey State Park, Coupeville: Take a moderate 1- to 2-mile hike along several trails in the park and learn about the forest and the exciting history of Fort Ebey. Explore the gun battery maze of rooms and learn about their historical uses. Meet at 1:30 p.m. by the Battery in the Gun Battery parking area.

South Whidbey State Park, Freeland: This moderate hike, just under a mile long, will follow the Wilbert and Forest Discover trails. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the ranger house.

Jefferson County

Dosewallips State Park, Brinnon: Enjoy an easy half-mile guided hike through forest, to the beach and uplands along Hood Canal. The program will focus on saltwater and freshwater ecosystems in the park and will include a look at some shellfish specimens. Meet at noon at the Meadows Trailhead (beach trail) parking lot, located on the opposite end of the highway bridge from the park entrance. Dress warm, and be prepared for blustery weather.

King County

Nolte State Park, near Enumclaw: This easy 1.25-mile stroll will take hikers on the Lake Trail Loop around Deep Lake and through the forested Green River Gorge with woodland animals likely spotted along the way. Discussion will focus on forest and lake ecology. This is an ideal outing for families with little ones. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at the park’s main bulletin board.

Saltwater State Park, Des Moines: Take one hike or two, starting with a short, easy 1/4-mile guided walk on the interpretive nature trail, followed by the more moderate 1.5-mile Loop Trail. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the interpretive center. The short, guided tour leaves at 10 a.m. and the longer walk follows immediately after. The Civilian Conservation Corps-built cabin will be open until noon for refreshments and viewing of displays.

Kittitas County

Gingko Petrified Forest State Park, near Vantage: A park interpretive specialist will lead a 3-mile hike through an ancient fossil bed with nearly two dozen exposed petrified logs. Look for ice-rafted erratics carried by the Ice Age Floods thousands of years ago. Meet at 1 p.m. at the interpretive trails parking lot, which is two miles west of the interpretive center.

Petrified gingko.
Petrified gingko at Gingko Petrified Forest State Park. Photo by Anna Roth.

Olmstead Place Historical State Park, Ellensburg: A park interpretive specialist will lead a stroll along the flat and easy 1-mile trail that wanders along Altapes Creek.  Meet at 10 a.m. at the park.

Lewis County

Lewis and Clark State Park, Winlock: Follow the Trail of the Deer path on this moderate 1.5-mile hike, while exploring the beautiful old growth forest in this park. Meet at 10 a.m. at the main entrance gate.

Okanogan County

Alta Lake State Park, Pateros:  Explore the flora, fauna, and geology of Alta Lake and the Goat Mountain area with a Park Ranger. Discuss local history and the recent fire seasons. Choose from a 2- or 4-mile walk. One will be moderate to strenuous; the other will be an easy walk. Consider bringing snowshoes, depending on conditions. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Day use parking lot, near the swim beach.

Alta Lake State Park
Alta Lake in winter. Photo by trip reporter selma&oasisinwenatchee.

Pearrygin Lake State Park, Winthrop: Participants can choose to use snowshoes or fat-tire bikes for a moderate 2- to 4-mile ride or walk on the Rex Derr Trail, with views overlooking the lake and a tour of the park. Following the ride or walk, the park will offer a free barbecue-style lunch for those who want to stay and play in the snow. (Those interested in the barbecue should contact the park in advance at (509) 996-2370.)  Snowshoe hikers should meet at 10 a.m., and bike riders should meet at 10:30 a.m. at the welcome center.

Pacific County

Cape Disappointment, Ilwaco: Join the park’s interpretive specialist for a moderate 3-mile hike along the Benson Beach Trail to explore the wild coastline overlooking the Columbia River Bar. Learn how waves, currents and tides interact with this dynamic environment. Meet at 11 a.m.)

San Juan County

Lime Kiln Point State Park, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island: Explore the natural and cultural history of Lime Kiln Point and the surrounding woods and vistas on this moderate 2-mile hike. Meet at noon at the interpretive center in the lower parking lot.

Moran State Park, Olga, Orcas Island: Friends of Moran State volunteers will lead a guided stroll around the Cascade Lake Loop Trail, in the heart of the park, a moderate hike of just less than 3 miles. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Cascade Lake picnic shelter. The hike is followed by the annual Polar Bear Plunge—an Orcas Island tradition— at 11 a.m.

Skagit County

Rockport State Park, Rockport:  All winter long, Rockport State Park offers the “Deep Forest Experience,” guided hikes through a rare, old growth forest of ancient cedar, fir, hemlock and maple. New Year’s Day will be no exception for a First Day Hike. Hikes on the easier Sauk Spring Trail start at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. An afternoon hike on the moderate Evergreen Trail happens at 2 p.m. Meet for either hike at the Discovery Center, near the park office.

A hiker is dwarfed by the towering firs at Rockport State Park. Photo by Kim Brown.

Snohomish County

Wallace Falls State Park, Gold Bar: Take a moderate 2-mile hike on the Woody Trail to middle Wallace Falls—with a spectacular 265-foot drop. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the parking area trailhead.

Spokane County

Mount Spokane State Park in Mead will have three different First Day Hike events—two snowshoes hikes and one cross-country ski trip.

Mount Spokane State Park Snowshoe — Beginners: Join members of the Snowshoe Mount Spokane group for an easy 3-mile roundtrip trek, which includes a stop at the Snowshoe Warming Hut. This is an ideal activity for those new to snowshoeing. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Mount Kit Carson Loop Road.

Mount Spokane State Park Summit Snowshoe — Advanced, strenuous: The Snowshoe Mount Spokane group will also host a snowshoe hike for more experienced and physically fit snowshoers on 4-mile hike to Vista House at the summit of Mount Spokane. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Sno-Park parking lot, where the main road meets the Summit Road.

Mount Spokane State Park – Nordic: Join the Spokane Nordic Ski Association for this moderate, 2-mile cross-country ski trip on the Valley View, Sam’s Swoop and Lodge pole trails. Meet at 9 a.m. at Selkirk Lodge. Register with at

Riverside State Park, Spokane: Take an easy, 2-mile walk on the McLellan Riparian Trailhead, which runs along the Spokane River and the surrounding riparian area. Meet at 1 p.m. at the trailhead—turn  north on Mile 7 Road onto Riverside State Park Drive.

Thurston County

Tolmie State Park, Olympia: This moderate 3-mile walk will take hikers around the outer edge of the park on the Four Cedar nature trail. Meet at 9 a.m. at the lower parking lot/shelter area.