Happy New Year! Whether you are setting new goals or just want to keep doing what you’re doing, perhaps getting outside is on your 2024 bingo card. Several GMC and Vermont State Parks leaders volunteered to lead “First Day Hikes” all over the state this Monday, continuing a nationwide tradition to take a hike on New Year’s Day. Did you join an organized First Day hike, or take one of your own? Send us your photos and reflections to [email protected]
Bartlett Mountain Hike, Northeast Kingdom
Susan Winsor reports that 15 people explored the Willoughby State Forest in Westmore and had a great time starting the New Year off right. Co-leaders Susan and Cathi Brooks mapped out a 6-mile round trip loop, mostly sticking to multi-use CCC roads. The hike offers great views of Lake Willoughby, especially in winter when the leaves are off the trees. The road is often shared with cross country skiers and snowshoes are required if the trail has been groomed for cross country skiing, but with just a dusting of snow, hikers reigned this new year. Vermont State Parks sent special winter hats to celebrate the occasion, and dogs joined as well.
Happy Hill Shelter, Vermont Appalachian Trail
“We had 9 of us (including me and Bob) on our First Day hike to Happy Hill shelter in Norwich. The 4-mile hike offered plenty of ups and downs. This is the perfect New Year’s Day hike — it has a view, the A.T., old foundations, an A.T. shelter for lunch stop, the first handicap-accessible moldering privy on the A.T.” – hike leader Kathy Astrauckas, Upper Valley Ottauquechee section
Butler Lodge Hike, Mount Mansfield/Underhill
David Hathaway of the Burlington Section led a group of 11 on a challenging 4.1 mile hike to Butler Lodge under overcast skies. The trail was a mix of wet patches, bare spots of mud and rock, old crusty snow, and ice, so Microspikes came in handy. Folks enjoyed lunch in the lodge, as the wind had picked up by the time they reached the turnaround spot.
Other First Day Hikes in 2024
Other groups of hikers, led by other volunteers and state parks staff, took off across the Colchester Causeway, Lake Bomoseen State Park, Groton State Forest, and others. The GMC Montpelier Section led a hike to Spruce Mountain in Plainfield, known for its fire tower views. No matter how you are embracing the outdoors in 2024, we wish you good cheer!