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Let's Get Out There: Ring in the new year with 'First Day Hikes'

Don't just turn the calendar page on New Year's Day. Take advantage of state parks' free First Day Hikes in Oregon and Washington.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we look ahead to First Day Hikes at state parks across Oregon and Washington.

If you’re looking to clear your mind after another head-spinning year, get outside and turn the calendar page with a number of guided “First Day Hikes” across Oregon and Washington.

“If folks are looking in the Portland area, Silver Falls is great. Champoeg State Park — halfway between Portland and Salem — is doing a couple first day hikes. I believe Tryon Creek is also doing a first day hike,” said Matt Palmquist, a park ranger at Silver Falls State Park.

“We are very, very busy most of the year. This time of year, it's really nice to slow down a little bit and enjoy it and enjoy how quiet it is,” he said.

2022 kicks off Oregon State Parks’ centennial celebration. They’ve offered First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day for ten years. It’s a way to encourage people to get out there. A big perk is parking and day use fees at state parks are waived.

“First Day Hikes are a tradition that Oregon State Parks do, as well as a lot of other states throughout the country,” Palmquist said. “It's a way to get people outside and get a good start to the new year by doing something active and exploring our state parks…and they are guided so we will be learning a lot of great things. We are really wanting to make sure that everyone feels welcome and safe in our parks, and so these First Day Hikes will be open for all levels of ability.”

There are first day festivities for Washington residents to check out as well, no matter their level of experience.

“I would definitely recommend for a lot of the newcomers to participate in the ranger hikes. Those ones tend to be easier,” said Emily Massett with Washington State Parks.

There are about 40 first day hikes planned in Washington, ten of them in the southwest part of the state.

“It's been awesome to watch people still get outside, and we just encourage people to plan ahead and recreate responsibly,” she said.

Be sure you “know before you go.” Prepare by dressing in layers and checking road conditions. No matter the season, it’s always good to have a plan B.

“For First Day Hikes, we do encourage people to check out our website pretty much daily, just in case. There are a couple hikes that have been already canceled due to the current weather conditions,” Massett said.

“These are all pretty accessible events,” added Palmquist. “We're not doing any really extreme hikes. The idea behind doing a guided hike is that they're generally shorter because we're going to be stopping and looking and learning all about things in the parks.”

RELATED: Let's Get Out There: Exploring Oregon's wildlife refuges

You can find a calendar of events and more First Day Hike information here:

Oregon First Day Hikes

Washington First Day Hikes

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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