Start Your New Year Off Right With A First Day Hike

Helena – Start 2022 off on the right foot with a First Day Hike at a state park near you. On Jan. 1, Montana State Parks will host First Day Hikes at Flathead Lake State Park (Wayfarers, West Shore, and Lone Pine units), Travelers’ Rest State Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park and Makoshika State Park. Being immersed in nature has never been more important for your mental health and physical wellbeing. These fun and informative hikes are open to all ages and are family friendly.  

Montana State Parks First Day Hikes are available at:

Flathead Lake State Park (Big Arm, Wayfarers and West Shore Units) and Lone Pine State Park 

Every time you hike, snowshoe, fat-tire bike, sled or cross-country ski a trail at one of these parks, log your miles at the trailhead to help lead your park to victory. At the end of the month, the participants with the most miles from each park will receive a prize. The competition will kick off on Jan. 1 and conclude on Jan. 31.  

Flathead Lake State Park consists of six unique park units located around Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. The park units on the east side are Wayfarers, Yellow Bay and Finley Point and the west side units are West Shore, Big Arm and Wild Horse Island. In addition to boating, swimming and fishing, each park unit offers unique winter views of the lake and its surrounding mountains and don’t forgot the wildlife viewing opportunities.  

Lone Pine State Park is located 5 miles southwest of Kalispell and offers one of the most vivid views of the valley, 7.5 miles of trails, and a beautiful interpretive center that provides information on living in a wildlife urban interface. While out on the trails in January, a hiker may come across several different mammal tracks or birds that are toughing out the Montana winter.  

Travelers’ Rest State Park 

Stop by Travelers’ Rest State Park between 10 a.m. and noon for a special self-guided First Day Hike. Brochures and activity guides will be placed outside the Travelers’ Rest Visitor Center at the park kiosk for you to take with you. Enjoy a 1.5 mile walk around the park to learn about why winter is such a special season. Enjoy the fresh air and look for wildlife on the traditional homeland of the Bitterroot Salish people, and around the only archaeologically verified campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

Spring Meadow Lake State Park 

Visit Spring Meadow State Park for a short, easy hike just under a mile. We will discuss the history and interesting facts about Spring Meadow Lake. Hike begins at 11 a.m. 

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park 

The gates at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park will be open from 1-4 p.m. on New Year’s Day for people to come out and enjoy the park’s 3-mile, self-guided trail. Ranger Alice will be leading a guided hike from the visitor center starting at 1:30 p.m. for those that who like to hike with a ranger and learn about the history of this fascinating park. For more information, please call 406-866-2217 or email [email protected]  

Makoshika State Park 

This 1-mile hike on the Bluebird Trail will introduce participants to Makoshika State Park badlands topography. Hike begins at 11 a.m. Free food; refreshments and drinks will be provided following the hike in the visitor center by the Friends of Makoshika. For more information, call 406-377-6256. 

Hikers should wear weather-appropriate clothing, bring a water bottle and ice cleats or snowshoes if the trail conditions are snowy or icy. First Day Hike participants are encouraged to share their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes. For more information on these or other Montana state parks, visit:  

First Day Hikes is an annual, nationwide special event co-sponsored by America’s State Parks which originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Mass. All 50 states will be participating in the tenth annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with guided outdoor exploration. 


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