Start Your New Year Off Right With A First Day Hike

Helena - Kick off the New Year right with a First Day Hike at a state park near you. On Jan. 1, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will host First Day Hikes at Flathead Lake State Park (Wayfarers, West Shore, and Lone Pine units), Travelers' Rest State Park, Missouri Headwaters State Park, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Pictograph Cave 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 forget 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

Walk in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition at Travelers Rest State Park! Travelers' Rest is the only archaeologically confirmed campsite along the Lewis and Clark Trail. On this First Day Hike, participants will learn about the scientific process and the technology used to pinpoint the location of the Travelers' Rest site and see the areas that were excavated to uncover the campfire and latrine. The hike will start at 2 p.m. at the flag plaza and will be an hour long. Participants will get exclusive access to the visitor center after the tour and can enjoy hot chocolate and ask additional questions. Dress accordingly for the weather and expect to walk a little under a mile. For more information, call the park at 406-273-4253.

Missouri Headwaters State Park

This 2- to 4-mile hike will start about 11 a.m. from the main picnic grounds by the Gallatin River. A park ranger will lead participants on a tour of Fort Rock. There will be great views of the rivers and the mountains surrounding the Gallatin Valley. Hot chocolate and toasted bagels will be provided by a warming fire. Minimum age for kids is 8 years old. No dogs, please.

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on New Year's Day for people to come out and enjoy the park's 3-mile trail. A ranger will lead a guided hike from the visitor center for those who like to learn about the history of the park. For more information, please call 406-866-2217.

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Visit Spring Meadow State Park for a short, easy hike just under a mile. We will discuss the history, flora and fauna and interesting facts about Spring Meadow. Hot Chocolate and cookies provided after the event. Hike begins at 10 a.m. No dogs, please.

Pictograph Cave

State Park

This year, Pictograph Cave State Park will offer a ranger-led three-quarter-mile interpretive tour at 9 a.m. Tour will begin and end at the visitor center parking lot and will take approximately an hour.

Makoshika State Park

This 1-mile hike on the Bluebird Trail will introduce participants to the Badlands topography in this beautiful park. 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. No dogs, please.

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, MA. 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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