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First Day Hikes


Join Delaware State Parks on Sunday, January 1, 2023, and start the New Year outdoors!

This year's First Day Hikes will continue the tradition of self-guided hikes at each park. Last year over 50,000 people participated in this nationwide movement by getting out into their state parks to start the year off right!Each park location listed below will have at least one self-guided hike for you and your group to choose from.Each park will also have a welcome station, where you can check in to be counted for this event and pick up your First Day Hike sticker or magnet(while supplies last). Sites will also offer a send off time, where you can gather with other hikers for a group photo and welcome message.Selected sites are offering guided hikes, details below.

Already planning to start your year with a First Day Hike on January 1st? Why not get a jump start on our Delaware State Parks Passport Program! This program challenges you to explore significant park sites and get involved in programming opportunities to win an annual pass and awesome Delaware State Parks swag.

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This Year's Hikes

Alapocas Run State Park

10:00 a.m. -noon - Blue Ball Barn

Check-in location: Alapocas Run State Park

Take a self-guided hike of the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail through Alapocas Woods to the Rock Wall. Send off at 10 a.m. or check-in at the welcome station in the courtyard of the Blue Ball Barn from 10 a.m. to noon.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Accessible? Yes- Paved
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 3 miles round trip
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Liz Andoskaut, elizabeth.androskaut@delaware.gov

Auburn Valley State Park

10:30 a.m to 1:00 pm - Event Parking Lot (Mansion) at 3000 Creek Road

Check-in location: Event Parking Lot (Mansion) at 3000 Creek Road

Kick off 2023 with fresh air and an outdoor adventure at Auburn Valley State Park. Take a self-guided hike to explore the area's history and key landmarks along our Yorklyn Bridge Trail or join the group hike up the Auburn Valley Loop Trail starting at 11am. Park at the Event Parking Lot then check-in at the Welcome Station during the times listed above. In case of snow or ice, the start location will be moved to the Paper Mill Parking lot on Benge Road.

  • Hike Difficulty: Yorklyn Bridge Trail: Moderate, Auburn Valley Loop Trail: Moderate with steeper grades
  • Accessible? Auburn Valley Loop Trail: Yes, Yorklyn Bridge Trail: Yes
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: Yorklyn Bridge Trail: 1.8 miles, Auburn Valley Loop Trail: 2.2 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Teresa Pierce, Teresa.Pierce@Delaware.gov

Bellevue State Park

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Top of Main Parking Lot

Check-in location: Bellevue State Park

The New Year is here! Make your first day of the year a good one by joining the national First Day Hike movement. Check-in with the Naturalists at the welcome station at the top of the main parking lot and then begin your First Day Hike! Send off at 1 p.m.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Yes- Paved
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 2.5 miles round trip
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Nick Madden, nick.madden@delaware.gov

Brandywine Creek State Park

10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. - Outside Nature Center

Check-in location: Thompson's bridge parking lot, nature center parking lot, nature center parking lot

At Brandywine Creek we are highlighting three trails for our First Day Hikes: the Brandywine Trail, the Meadows Trail, and the Hidden Pond Trail. Check-in at the welcome station outside the nature center between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to sign-in, get a map and pick your adventure. Take any of these self-guided hikes at your own pace! All three trails have interpretive signage and QR codes to our virtual nature center so you can learn fun facts on your hike. The park naturalist will lead a guided hike around the Hidden Pond which meets at the welcome station at 1:30 p.m.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy, Medium, Medium/hard
  • Accessible? Brandywine Trail: semi accessible, wide paved and gravel, Meadows (Cross Country)Trail: wide mowed grass, hilly in places, Hidden Pond: inaccessible, narrow, dirt and rocks, hilly
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: Brandywine Trail- 2.7 miles (one direction), Meadows (Cross Country) Trail- 1 mile, Hidden Pond Trail- 2.2 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather, bring a water bottle and sturdy walking shoes
  • Contact for more information: Lisa Watt, lisa.watt@delware.gov

Brandywine Zoo

Check in at the Zoo's ticket window fifteen minutes prior to the start of the tour - Zoo ticket window

Check-in location: Brandywine Zoo

Ring in the New Year with a guided -hike- through the zoo! Join one of our educators for a free half-hour tour through the zoo to learn all about the animals, how we care for them, and what you can do to make conservation a New Year's Resolution you can keep. Tours begin at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Space is limited, so checking in at the welcome station (Ticket Window) is encouraged fifteen minutes before the tour.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Yes- Paved
  • Restrictions: Service animals only
  • Length of hike: 1/10 of a mile
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Contact for more information: lauren.barczak@delaware.gov

Cape Henlopen

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. - The Point comfort station lot

Check-in location: The Point

Park at the Point Comfort Station parking lot and stop by the Welcome Station at The Point Overlook to check in with staff before embarking on a self-guided beach hike of The Point. Recommend for ages 5 and older with an adult.

  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • Accessible? No
  • Restrictions: No pets allowed
  • Length of hike: 2 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Richard Julian, richard.julian@delaware.gov

Delaware Seashore

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - North Inlet Day Area (southeast corner of parking lot)

Check-in location: Delaware Seashore State Park

Take in sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Bay as you enjoy this self-guided hike over the iconic Indian River Inlet bridge at sunset. Check-in with park staff at the welcome station from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., send off at 4:15 p.m.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Yes- Paved
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 1 mile round trip
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather and wind
  • Contact for more information: Indian River Life-Saving Station 302-227-6992

First State Heritage Park

noon - 1:00 p.m. - John Bell House Interpretive Center (43 The Green)

Check-in location: The Green Dover, DE 19901

Out with the old, in with the new! Start 2023 out right by joining the national movement and partake in a refreshing, rejuvenating First Day Hike. At 1 p.m., meet at the welcome station at The John Bell House Interpretive Center (43 The Green) for one of our signature guided tours around the historic Dover Green with a knowledgeable First State Heritage Park interpreter. Also available from the mounted box beside the building are self-guided tour booklets of Dover's historic neighborhoods courtesy of the Friends of Old Dover.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Cobblestone sidewalk, generally level with some bumps and uneven spots.
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 1/4 mile
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather with comfortable shoes. A water bottle is advised.
  • Contact for more information: Rose Cottage, 302-739-9194, TourFSHP@delaware.gov

Fort DuPont State Park

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - Parking Lot at the end of Old Battery Lane/Wilmington Avenue

Check-in location: Accessible from the Old Battery Lane Parking Lot

Start the New Year off right by joining us for a hike on Fort DuPont’s trails. Experience both the beautiful natural environment and the historic structures that make this park unique. Be sure to wear comfortable water-proof shoes and dress warmly. This hike is self-guided, but we encourage you to start the hike at 10 a.m. to join with other First Day Hikers. We will have a welcome station with guide brochures and information.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Riverview Trail, partially accessible (wide trail, part of the trail is gravel, part is a dirt/grass trail).
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 0.7 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather, bring water, and wear sturdy, waterproof shoes that you don't mind getting dirty.
  • Contact for more information: jacob.miller@delaware.gov

Fort Miles

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Artillery Park

Check-in location: Fort Miles Historic Area

Start your year off right with a self-guided exploration of the Fort Miles Artillery Park. Those looking to add a little more history, nature and distance can also hike the Pinelands Trail and discover the importance of this area in coastal defense.

  • Hike Difficulty: Artillery Park: Easy, Pinelands Trail: Moderate
  • Accessible? Artillery Park: Yes Pinelands Trail: No
  • Restrictions: Artillery Park: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash , Pinelands Trail: No pets allowed
  • Length of hike: Artillery Park: .25 miles, Pinelands Trail: 1.5 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Tyler Dreiblatt, tyler.dreiblatt@delaware.gov

Holts Landing

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Picnic Pavilion

Check-in location: Holts Landing State Park

Meander through maritime forest, salt marsh, and meadow habitats on this self-guided hike of the Sea Hawk Trail. Check in with park staff at the welcome station from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Send off at 2 p.m.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Crushed stone and boardwalk surfaces
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 1.2 miles round trip
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Indian River Life-Saving Station 302-227-6991

Killens Pond State Park

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Nature center will also be open from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. - Sports Complex Parking Lot

Check-in location: Sports Complex Parking Lot

Kick off the year outdoors and be part of the national movement with a First Day Hike! The group will meet at the Sports Complex, then pick 1 of 2 self-guided trails to hike - the accessible Bike Trail or a section of the Cross Country Trail. Send off at 1 p.m.

  • Hike Difficulty: Bike Trail: Easy, Cross Country Trail: Moderate
  • Accessible? Bike Trail: Yes, Cross Country Trail: No
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: Bike Trail: 1.5 miles, Cross Country Trail: 1.5 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Kate Crane, kathleen.crane@delaware.gov, Nature Center Staff, DNREC_KPSPNatureCenter@delaware.gov

Lums Pond State Park

10:00 a.m. - noon - Campground Stage

Check-in location: Lums Pond State Park Campground: 3355 Red Lion Road, Bear DE 19701

This year’s self-guided hike will be a 2-mile loop on parts of the Swamp Forest and Little Jersey trails. Check-in at the welcome station at the campground stage to get details on the hike and general park information. Campers and non-campers are welcome to visit the new campground store before or after the hike to get snacks or fun park merch. The campground store will be open 9 a.m - 4 p.m. Interested in camping that weekend? Visit https://destateparks.com/Reservations

  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • Accessible? No
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 2 miles
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather, bring water and good walking shoes
  • Contact for more information: Samantha Sobel, Samantha.Sobel@delaware.gov

Trap Pond State Park

9:45 a.m.- noon - Baldcypress Nature Center

Check-in location: Trap Pond State Park

Join us at Trap Pond State Park for a First Day Hike, in the first state park, in the first state. Stop by the welcome station at the Baldcypress Nature Center to sign-in, grab a map, and chat with park staff. Several educational stops can be found along the American Holly Trail or customize your own hike within the park. Send off at 10 a.m.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Accessible? Well packed gravel pathways. Fully accesible nature center.
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: 1.1 miles round trip
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather
  • Contact for more information: Claire Mickletz, Claire.Mickletz@delaware.gov

White Clay Creek State Park

9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - Chambers House Nature Center

Check-in location: White Clay Creek State Park

A group hike will be led by park staff and members of the Friends of White Clay Creek State Park starting at 10 a.m. Self-guided option is also available.

  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • Accessible? Hard-packed dirt, stone and paved surface
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: Approximately 3.5 miles loop
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather, bring water and good walking shoes
  • Contact for more information: Claire Mickletz, Claire.Mickletz@delaware.gov

White Clay Creek State Park

10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Possum Hill Parking Lot

Check-in location: White Clay Creek State Park

A group hike led by park staff and members of the Friends of White Clay Creek State Park will be starting at 11 a.m. Self-guided option is also available.

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible? Yes- Paved
  • Restrictions: Pets must be on a max. 6-foot leash
  • Length of hike: Approximately 2 miles out and back
  • What to bring with you: Dress for the weather, bring water and good walking shoes
  • Contact for more information: 302-368-6900