As we celebrate the New Year here on Delmarva, one of our favorite activities to embark upon on the first day of the year is a First Day Hike, a nationwide initiative to encourage people to get outdoors. Across Southern Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, we are fortunate enough to be in close proximity to several state and national parks that are open for exploration all year long. The first day of a new year is the perfect opportunity to explore our local parks and hiking trails. What’s more, starting off 2016 with an outdoor adventure could set the tone for an active and adventurous year for you and your loved ones. Last year, nearly 28,000 joined in the First Day Hikes initiative across the country, collectively hiking over 66,000 miles! Join the movement this year by making the decision to get outdoors and enjoy First Day Hikes on Delmarva:

Assateague Island: The Assateague Coastal Trust will once again host the annual Illia Fehrer/Judy Johnson New Year’s Day Beach Walk, which will be held at the State Park this Friday at 1pm. Meet the ACT staff at the Assateague State Park concession stand at 1pm to join in the popular event, which will be led by National Park Service Ranger Christopher Seymour. This is the 36th year for the walk, which gives participants a unique and educational look at the Island. Families are encouraged to call Assateague State Park at 410-641-1094 to register.

Jane’s Island State Park: The two-mile walk through Jane’s Island State Park in Crisfield will lead you past deer, turkeys, and hopefully a few bald eagles! The hike also boasts 30 miles of water trails, a reclaimed agricultural field, and a portion of the campground. This is an easy hike, perfect for families and leisurely hikers. Meet at the camper check-in lot near the park store and nature center at 1pm.

Pocomoke River State Park: Pocomoke River State Park is one of our favorite spots in Worcester County to enjoy a leisurely, scenic hike. The three-mile round trip hike is for all ages and will begin at 10am at the Milburn Landing area on Nassawango Road in Pocomoke City. Keep your eyes peeled for wild turkey, bald eagles, and other indigenous wildlife. Register with Pocomoke River State Park by calling 410-632-2566.

Cape Henlopen State Park: At Cape Henlopen State Park, First Day hikers will enjoy an educational hike along The Point, where the Delaware River meets the Atlantic Ocean. This 1.8 mile, moderate hike will include potential seal and winter waterfowl sightings, along with information on how wind, waves, and people have shaped the point where the river and ocean meet. Be prepared for walking in loose sand. The hike begins at 11am at the Seaside Nature Center. Note: the minimum age suggested for children is 7 years old. For more information, call 302-645-9852.

Delaware Seashore State Park: Enjoy a brief intro into the history of the Indian River Inlet Bridge and Coin Beach while enjoying sights of various birds and marine life (maybe even a few seals!) during the 1.5 mile hike through the Delaware Seashore State Park. The hike begins at 1pm at the South Inlet Day area. This is a moderate hike, so children younger than the age of 6 are not encouraged to participate.

Trap Pond State Park: This moderate hike is approximately 3.1 miles long, which marks one of the longer First Day Hikes. Join fellow hikers at the Baldcypress Nature Center at 10am to embark on the American Holly Trail and Bob Trail, which is a newly dedicated section of the park, named in honor of Retired State Senator Bob Venables. Trap Pond became one of Delaware’s first state parks in 1951 and features the northernmost natural stand of baldcypress in the United States.

Fort Miles Historical Area: The 1.5 mile hike through the Pinelands area of Fort Miles provides the perfect opportunity to hike while learning about Cape Henlopen’s history. The hike begins at 10am at the Fort Miles Orientation Building. This is the perfect trail for veterans and history buffs, as the area holds significant history regarding the Delaware shore and WWII.