This year marks the 31st anniversary of the inaugural First Day Hike, which occurred on January 1, 1992. You will find links to all First Day Hikes across the South at the bottom of this article. But first, a little history on the power of one person’s vision …

Patrick Flynn, the former supervisor of the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, MA, was thinking ahead of his time. In order to get more people to spend time outdoors and come to Massachusetts State Parks in the winter, he set out to create a local initiative: First Day Hikes. For that first one, on New Year’s Day 1992, Patrick hosted 380 people at Massachusetts’ Blue Hills Reservation to open the new year with a guided hike. As years followed, the tradition stuck and was adopted by many state parks across the country.

On January 1, 2012, 400 First Day Hikes were held across the country at America’s state parks. The initiative even became an international phenomenon in 2018 with Canada’s Ontario Parks’ participation. Although Patrick passed away in 2016, his legacy lives on. First Day Hikes have been around ever since (source).

Today, there’s no need to convince Americans to go to the park. If there’s anything recent years have taught us, it’s that a daily walk or a respite in nature is essential for personal well-being. With 2023 just around the corner, there’s no better way to kick off the new year than with some fresh air, some extra steps, and time to enjoy what state parks across the country have to offer.

Across the USA, over 85,000 participated in First Day Hikes in 2022, and we anticipate this trend continuing to grow.

First Day Hikes Map
Look at all the state parks offering special First Day hikes! And, as a southern publication, we were happy to see a majority of these are found in the south. Whether you live in Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, Little Rock, Richmond or … you get the picture. Get outside and enjoy! See the hundreds of opportunities HERE.


  • See all Alabama First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Arkansas First Day Hikes HERE


  • See all Florida First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Georgia First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Kentucky First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Mississippi First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Maryland First Day Hikes HERE.


  • We were not able to find any information for First Day Hikes in Louisiana.

North Carolina

  • See all North Carolina First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Oklahoma First Day Hikes HERE.

South Carolina

  • See all South Carolina First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Tennessee First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Texas First Day Hikes HERE.


  • See all Virginia First Day Hikes HERE.
To find more hikes near you, head to


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About the Author
Margo Ghertner