Join Vermont State Parks For Free First Day Hikes (and learn how to prep for a day outside)

Jump-start your new year with a free family hike... now with extra added snow!

Local experts all around Vermont will be offering guided hikes on January 1st, and we welcome everyone to participate. Start your new year by getting outside and enjoying the new snowfall. 

Dogs are welcome on a leash. Hikes vary in length and difficulty, so there is something for everyone. All hikes are listed as easy to moderate, with the exception of Hunger Mountain, which is difficult. (Detailed description of Hunger Mountain hike is at the bottom.)

How Should I Prepare For a Winter Hike? 

Jessica Savage, Recreation Program Manager, and Niquette Bay State Park hike leader gives us a rundown:

"Bring a backpack with water and snacks. Make sure to have an extra hat and gloves, as well as an extra pair of wool hiking socks.

Dress in layers, synthetic or wool. A good long underwear base layer under lined snow/ waterproof pants, with several warm layers on top, under a winter jacket. When you get warmed up from hiking, you can take off some layers and put them in your pack. Wear wool hiking socks. Wear a good hat and gloves/ mittens.

Footwear: Wear good solid winter hiking boots with traction, If it's icy, bring traction devices (microspikes or YakTraks.)"

Also, bring your snowshoes if you own a pair.

And.. if not?

"If you don't have snowshoes and we get a lot of snow, you should still come to a hike! The guides and other participants with snowshoes can pack down the trail ahead of you," says Savage.

Bottom line: Be prepared, but don't let the our winter weather stop you from joining us!

For latest hike updates on December 31st and January 1st, please call (802) 249-1230.

Full List of Hikes and Descriptions:
Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park in Hubbardton, VT
Hike led by state bat biologist Alyssa Bennett
Info: Meet at noon. Hike is 2-3 hours on easy to moderate terrain. There will be freshly baked cookies afterwards. Come take a look at our newest state park!

Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester, VT
Hike led by local trails expert Jessica Savage
Info: Meet at noon at the trailhead at Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester. 1+ hour, easy to moderate terrain. This is a family friendly hike suitable for small children.

Button Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh, VT 
Hike led by the Otter Creek Audubon Society 
Details: Join the Otter Creek Audubon Society on a New Year's walk in search of overwintering birds. Meet at 9am at park entrance. A 3 hour, easy hike on park trails.

Underhill State Park in Underhill, VT
Hike led by John Connell (local innkeeper)
Details: Meet at 1pm at the gate just below Underhill State Park on the mountain Road in Underhill
Center. Hike is 3+ hours, easy to moderate terrain.

Mt. Ascutney State Park in Windsor, VT 
Hike led by naturalist Scott Davison  
Info: Meet at 10am at the ranger station at the entrance to the park. Hike is 1+ hour easy loop on trails and woods roads.

Groton State Forest in Groton, VT
Hike led by local legend Dave Spencer
Info: Meet at 1pm in the parking area at the Groton State Forest Nature Center on Boulder Beach Road, 1.6 miles from Rte. 232. Hike is 1+ hour loop across multiple trails in the forest.

Jamaica State Park in Jamaica, VT
Hike led by Lowell Lake State Park ranger Scott Renker
Info: Meet at 10am by the park office at the entrance to the park. This will be an easy, flat walk along an old rail bed, with the option to extend the hike along the same trails. Pets welcome on a leash. Suitable for all ages.

Bomoseen State Park in Castleton, VT
Hike led by park naturalist Caitlin Gates
Info: Take a walk around Bomoseen State Park. Meet at 1 pm at park entrance.

**Hunger Mountain, Waterbury VT
Meet at 9 am at Hunger Mountain trail-head, Hike: 3.5 miles, 5 hours, moderate to difficult.
This hike is the most challenging, so be prepared with extra snacks and water, and preferably a warm drink. You should have an entire extra layer to put on a the summit. We highly recommend traction devises for this hike, as the final part is steep and usually icy. 


  1. Thanks to Scott, we had a great little hike along the river on a beautiful day! What a great way to start the new year!!!


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