The holiday rush is near its end, which means the weeks upon weeks of cookies, pies, chocolates, and celebratory drinks is almost over. While we all have grand hopes of starting out the New Year on the right foot with a rigorous work-out routine or a fast-acting diet plan, sticking to New Year’s resolutions can be daunting. This year, we plan on starting the New Year out right, by participating in First Day Hikes with America’s National Parks. Spending the first day of 2015 with an active and fun outdoor Day Trip is the perfect way to ring in the New Year.

America’s National Parks celebrates the New Year with their First Day Hikes initiative, which occurs in all 50 states. The initiative encourages individuals and families to kick-off the New Year by getting outdoors and being active and healthy in any of our national parks. Locally, both Maryland and Delaware state parks will participate by offering free, guided hikes in state parks on New Year’s Day. It’s a terrific way to shake off 2014, rejuvenate, and welcome the New Year and all of its possibilities while exploring local parks. According to the National Association of State Park Directors, last year was a record breaking day for 1st Hikes, with over 800 hikes and more than 27,000 people in all 50 states participating (up 5,000 from 2013).

In Maryland, head to Assateague State Park for the Ilia Fehrer/Judy Johnson Memorial Beach Walk. Meet at the Assateague State Park Concession Building at 1pm for the guided hike. The hike is rated easy to moderate, and is ideal for families of all ages. The hike will take place on the beach toward the north end of the island. Following the walk, hot chocolate will be provided at the concession deck. Rangers Bill Yates and Volunteer Interpreter Chris Seymour will guide this year’s hike, “Finding your own Island.” Explore the unique habitat of the island and gain a new perspective on life beyond the sand and surf. The first Assateague Beach Walk was held on January 1, 1970, and the tradition has continued ever since. The walk was an initiative of the Committee to Preserve Assateague Island, a committee started largely by Ilia Fehrer and Judy Johnson. The committee has since evolved into the Assateague Coastal Trust, who along with Assateague Island National Seashore and Assateague State Park sponsor the New Year’s Day walk each year.

Pocomoke River State Park will also host a hike this year. The two-mile hike is rated easy for all ages and begins at 10am at the Shad Landing Administration Building. The hike will take you through a cypress swamp and past native stands of loblolly pines and mixed pines and hardwoods. Travel down the Hudson Tract while keeping your eyes peeled for a bald eagle or a wild turkey.

In Delaware, celebrate First Day Hikes at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes at 11am and Delaware Seashore State Park, south of Rehoboth at 1pm. Trap Pond State Park will host their hike along the Raccoon Pond Trail at 10 am (meeting place is the Bethesda Church). The 3-mile trek is pet-friendly. The Delaware Seashore State Park will kick things off at 1pm at the Hickman Road entrance. The 3.5 mile hike will take you through the “Fresh Pond Tract” where hikers will enjoy a variety of habitats including maritime, forest, meadow and salt marsh. Pets must be on a 6-foot leash.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts. The initiative began as an effort to promote healthy lifestyles not only at the start of the New Year, but all year long. Over the years, parks nationwide have joined in the initiative. In fact, last year was the first time that all