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La Casa Inn
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Mar 20 - Mar 20, 2019
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On January 1, while the rest of us are sweeping up confetti and nursing mimosas, thousands of Americans head into the brisk winter air for so-called First Day Hikes. Organized by the America’s State Parks organization, these free, guided treks are the perfect antidote to December’s debauchery. So on New Year’s Day, load up on trail mix and jump-start your resolution to be more active.

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Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Los Angeles, CA: Escape the L.A. gridlock and head about 120 miles north to Red Rock Canyon State Park. At 9am, you’ll depart for a 9-mile hike into the ominous-sounding Nightmare Gulch and “Secret Silent City.” The strenuous route conncludes with a climb over three ridges and 3,000 feet of varying elevation. But the struggle is worth it; expect striking views of red rock formations against a backdrop of endless blue skies.

Panola Mountain State Park | Flickr CC: TranceMist

Panola Mountain State Park | Flickr CC: TranceMist

Atlanta, GA: Even if you sleep late, you can still squeeze in a jaunt through Panola Mountain State Park, just 20 miles southeast of the city. The conservation area, which is accessible only with a guide, offers a half-dozen New Year’s Day hikes every hour on the hour. After a 2.5-mile tour of the woodlands and trip to the peak of Panola, join park rangers around the campfire for the annual “Burden Burn” and some diet-busting s’mores.

Crowders Mountain State Park | Flickr CC: Charlie Cowins

Crowders Mountain State Park | Flickr CC: Charlie Cowins

Charlotte, NC: Earn bragging rights when you hike through two states in a single day. This 6-mile trek kicks off at Crowders Mountain State Park in North Carolina, with Instagram-worthy views of oaks, pines and dogwoods. The guide will lead you on to Kings Mountain State Park, South Carolina, where you’re free to camp for the night, hike back north on your own or catch the shuttle to your car.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park

Phoenix, AZ: Choose the time of day and level of difficulty that work best for you during one of three First Day Hikes through Lost Dutchman State Park, about 40 miles east of Phoenix. Each excursion is about 2.5 miles long and led by a ranger or volunteer guide, who should be able to school you on exactly who this lost Dutchman guy was.

Houghton's Pond | Flickr CC: Eric Moreno

Houghton’s Pond | Flickr CC: Eric Moreno

Boston, MA: New England winters are no joke, but hopefully the sun is out by 1pm for the First Day Hike through Blue Hills Reservation, about 15 miles south of Beantown. Stop by Venture Scouting for a cup of cocoa to keep you warm as you set off on one of three easy-to-moderate, 1.5-mile hikes. Bring the kids for a stroll around Houghton’s Pond, and save time for a stop at the playground before you gather ’round the bonfire.

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Tagged: California

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Dalia Colon

Dalia Colon

Dalia is a multimedia journalist in Tampa and the Smart Travel Insider for VISIT FLORIDA. Follow her on Twitter @daliacolon.

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