The First Day Hike is set for New Year's Day at the major Western New York attraction

Winter is here, so let your outdoor fun begin in Letchworth State Park, Seneca Lake State Park and other state parks throughout New York. A variety of activities, programs and family-oriented adventures provide options to stay busy in the winter wonderland outside your front door.

First Day Hikes on Jan. 1 every year has been a state-wide event — part of a national initiative — that encourages starting the year off right with an active and informative day of hiking.

Letchworth State Park, in Livingston and Wyoming counties, has four guided hikes planned including a hike designed especially for families with young children, a Winter Wander to Ponds hike, an exotic tree hike and a Great Bend Gorge hike.

All hikes begin with a 12:30 p.m. registration at The Humphrey Nature Center, and participants in the hikes will receive a state parks souvenir on a first-come, first-serve basis. Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome. Refreshments are served after the hikes. 

The Genesee Valley Greenway State Park also offers three different hikes along the Greenway including starting points in Belfast, Mount Morris and Scottsville.

At Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva, off Routes 5 and 20, the First Day Hike kicks off at 9 a.m. Jan. 1 at Shelter #2. It's labeled an easy hike, fine for families with young children, and extends 2.5 miles. Friendly leashed pets are welcome, and the hike takes place rain or shine. Bring appropriate footwear, as part of the hike will be on unpaved surfaces. Refreshments are served before and after the hikes. Pre-registration is requested (though not required) and can be made by calling 315-789-2331.

At Catherine Valley Trail near Watkins Glen, the First Day Hike, a 4-mile trek appropriate for families with young children, starts at 10 a.m. at the trail kiosk at Watkins Glen High School and follows the old Chemung Canal Towpath through the Queen Catharine Wildlife Management Area. Friendly, unleashed pets are welcome. Pre-registration is not required, but is appreciated by calling 607-535-4511.

Taughannock Falls State Park in Ithaca has three hikes planned with different distances and levels of difficilty, all starting at 1 p.m. The hike begins with a group picture at Taughannock Falls. Friendly, leashed pets are welcom. Email the names of all hikers to For more information, call 607-387-7041, Ext. 131.

A new addition to New York State’s First Day Hikes this year is that all participants can enter to win an Annual Empire State Parks Pass for 2018.

Winter at Letchworth

With the First Day hike under your belt you can move onto the multitude of other hikes, lectures and programs offered throughout the winter season in Letchworth. The Genesee Naturalist is a quarterly publication of the park that details all hikes and programs offered through the seasons. The winter edition provides information about “winter wonder” hikes with a park naturalist and cross country ski nature hikes and snowshoe walks. There are family nature walks and as winter breaks, hikes for signs of spring are planned.

Letchworth's Winter Lecture Series brings guest speakers to the park every Sunday at 1:30 p.m. from January through March. Twelve topics ranging from the Seneca Army Depot’s white deer to bluebirds, life in a Seneca longhouse and what you need to know about the Giant Hogweed are planned. Lectures are held at the new Humphrey Nature Center in the park.

All programming in Letchworth is free and open to the public. The best entrance for all park activities is through the Castile entrance. The main park road from Perry to Castile is closed until spring. All park events, likes and lectures are listed at

Messenger Post Media contributed to this article.