California State Parks welcomes the public to start 2024 in a healthy way and to enjoy the fresh air with the annual First Day Hikes, on Monday, Jan. 1. Currently, up to 60 state parks will be participating, with over 70 guided hikes taking place across the state.
Californians and visitors from around the world can hike amongst the gentle redwoods or learn about the geology of the desert or catch a glimpse of bald eagles and other unique wildlife. California has some of the most unique and iconic parks in the country for everyone to explore.
First Day Hikes is a national-led effort that encourages individuals and families to experience, with a seasoned guide, the beautiful natural and cultural resources found in the outdoors and in doing so may inspire them to take advantage of these treasures throughout the year and an individual’s lifetime.
With more than 70 guided hikes taking place in California’s State Park System on Jan. 1, distance and difficulty will vary per hike or activity. Visitors are encouraged to check out details of start times and description of hikes. This year’s First Day Hikes webpage: parks.ca.gov/FirstDayHikes2024 is more interactive, as the public can search a map of locations by park name, county and region.
Visitors are also able to see the status of the hike and the last time it was updated, and by zooming into the map, they can find hikes taking place near that region of the map. Additionally, the webpage provides information on new hiking opportunities around the holiday. For example, Carpinteria State Beach will offer a hike the morning of Saturday, Dec. 30 and La Purísima Mission State Historic Park will have a Last Day Hike of the year the morning of Sunday, Dec. 31.
State parks offering First Day Hikes easily accessible from the Santa Clarita Valley include:
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
9853 Andora Ave.,
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Jan. 1 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Length of Hike: The Welcome Walk is rated moderate. It has an ascent of 284 feet and descent of 299 feet. Average gradient ascent is 4.4%, max is 6.5%. Average gradient descent is 4.9%, max is 8.2%. Length is 1.5 miles. The slow & gentle option is taken at a leisurely pace.
The Waterfall Trail is rated difficult It has an ascent of 328 feet and descent of 346 feet. Average gradient ascent is 7.6%, max is 18.4%. Average gradient descent is 5.9%. max is 15.3%. Length is 2 miles.
The Stagecoach Trail is rated difficult. It has an ascent and descent of 538 feet. Average slope is 8.9%. Max is 20%. Length is 2 miles.
Saddleback Butte State Park
Meet at the Visitor Center located at 17102 East Avenue J, Lancaster, CA 93535.
The park will offer three hikes of differing lengths and activity level.
All three hikes are offered on Jan. 1.
1. Start the new year off right with exploration of a Mojave Desert ecosystem on one of three different hikes. This is a strenuous 5-mile hike from the Visitor Center to Saddleback Peak (3,651 ft). Hike lasts around 3 hours duration and 1,000 ft of elevation gain. Bring water, snacks, good hiking shoes, and layered clothing; it can be very windy at the top. Views from the peak are spectacular. No scrambling required. Lead by a State Park interpreter.
Length of Hike: 5 miles; 3 hours.
Time: 9 a.m.
2. This is an easy/moderate 3.5-mile loop hike across the park. Enjoy beautiful vistas of local buttes, creosote, and joshua trees. Bring water, good hiking shoes, and layered clothing. Lead by a State Park volunteer. Under 2 hours duration with little elevation gain.
Length of Hike: 3.5 miles; 2 hours.
3. Easy 0.5-mile loop guided interpretive walk along the Dowen Nature Trail. Learn about the unique natural and cultural history of the area. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Great for kids! Around 1 hour duration with mild elevation gain.
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles; 1 hour.
Parking: Park at the Day-Use Area or Visitor Center and parking fee is $6 per vehicle.
Ages: All ages.
Preparation: Preparation is key for any successful desert activity. Bring 1 liter of water per hour of planned activity; bring snacks or pack a lunch; bring appropriate shoes, layered clothing (average January 1 weather is a high of 55 degrees), sunglasses and a hat. Consider stretching upon arrival.
Special Instructions: No RSVP required. Dogs are not allowed on the trail, except service animals. Extreme weather may cancel the event.
For more information contact Luis Malik at (661) 494-1321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Malibu Creek State Park
1925 Las Virgenes Road,
Calabasas, CA 91302
A leisurely ranger led hike along Malibu Creek on a mostly flat trail to the Rock Pool and Visitor Center. Three miles round trip. We will stop along our way to discuss the Natural History of the park. We will end our walk at the Visitor Center with everyone hiking back during the sunset at their own pace.
Length of Hike: 3 miles
Location: Highroad Trail at the main trailhead. Meet at Lower Parking Lot.
Jan. 1 3 – 5:30 p.m. (sunset)
Parking: Parking fee of $12 for the day. Parking at the “Lower Lot” parking lot.
Ages: All ages
Preparation: Participants should wear sturdy shoes and a hat, bring water and snacks. Dress in weather-appropriate clothing. Bring warm layers.
Special Instructions: No pets permitted. Steady rain will cancel.
Contact: To confirm, email email@example.com
Carpinteria State Beach
205 Palm Ave,
Carpinteria, CA 93013
The interpretive walk will start at the Visitor Center and end at the Harbor Seal Rookery. During the stroll stops will sbe made at the Chumash Tomol, Carpinteria Creek, asphalt mining relics and tar seeps/tide pools to discuss the cultural and natural history of Carpinteria State Beach.
Length of Hike: Approximately 1.3 miles from the Visitor Center to the Harbor Seal Rookery. The walk will last approximately 1 – 1.5 hours.
Location: Visitor Center to the Harbor Seal Rookery
Saturday, Dec. 30, 9-10:30 a.m.
Parking: Park in the Day Use Parking Area or on Palm Avenue.
Ages: All ages.
Preparation: Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, and bring water, snacks and binoculars to better view the seals.
Special Instructions: In the case of steady rain, we will cancel this walk.
Contact: To confirm, email us at CarpinteriaSB.Interp@parks.ca.gov or call Christina Furio at (805) 746-4284.
Most parks require a parking fee for the hikes. However, if visitors have checked out the State Library Parks Pass or have qualified for the Golden Bear Pass, they can enter for free at participating parks. Additionally, parents of fourth graders are invited to download the California State Park Adventure Pass that allows free entrance to visit park units like Millerton Lake State Recreation Area or Samuel P. Taylor State Park.
Learn more about these free passes at parks.ca.gov/OutdoorsForAll.
As with any outing, it is important for all visitors to recreate responsibly. Below are helpful tips to stay safe during First Day Hikes and all year long:
Know Before You Go: Prior to leaving home, check the statusof the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a backup plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick.
Play It Safe: Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. For example, make sure to dress in layers, bring plenty of snacks and water, and wear appropriate hiking shoes.
Leave No Trace: Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.
For more safety tips, please visit parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
Visitors can also use apps to stay safe and enhance their experience in the outdoors with:
what3words: Use the what3words app to communicate precise locations within any of the 280 state parks using just three words. This tool aids dispatchers in emergency situations, enabling assistance to those in need. Share locations with family and friends and provide directions to events, trails or campsites using this convenient app. To learn more on how the app works, visit ca.gov/what3words.
OuterSpatial: Discover the ultimate guide to California’s state parks with the OuterSpatial app. Navigate through interactive maps, receive real-time updates and stay connected with fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Enhance your exploration by monitoring visits, completing challenges like the Passport to Your California State Parks and sharing memorable experiences.
Visitors are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtags: #HikeInto2024, #FirstDayHikes, #HikeWithCAStateParks and #CAStateParks.