Start the new year off with a healthy hike.
The 32 Washington state parks are offering free guided hikes, snowshoe trips and fat-tire bike rides in January.
New Year’s Day also is a free day that doesn’t require a Discover Pass for parking, although Sno-Park permits are still required at designated Sno-Parks.
No matter where you go, remember it is winter.
Dress for the weather and conditions, and bring the essentials:
- sturdy hiking shoes
- and micro-spikes for your shoes if conditions are icy.
Not sure where to go? Here are some Eastern Washington suggestions for New Year’s Day.
Badger Mountain Hike with IMAC
The Intermountain Alpine Club is carrying on a tradition it started almost 70 years ago.
They invite you to brave the weather and join them for their annual hike up Badger Mountain on New Year’s Day.
The group will meet at the Dallas Road Trailhead parking lot at 10:15 a.m.; the hike starts at 10:30 a.m.
It’s two miles to the top and back — about two hours.
The hike is very informal; you can come and go as you please.
You can also extend the hike by taking the Canyon Trail and the Langdon trails.
Tapteal Greenway in Richland
The Tapteal Greenway board members will lead hikes of two distances: a 3.3-mile loop through Chamna Natural Preserve and for those who want a longer walk they will also offer a 5.9-mile hike around Columbia Point and back to Chamna.
Meet at the main parking lot of Chamna at 1 p.m. New Year’s Day.
For information email email@example.com.
Columbia Plateau Trail near Ice Harbor Dam
The Columbia Plateau Trail — a 4,109-acre, 130-mile-long railroad bed — traces the original path of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle railroads.
At 10 a.m., a park ranger will give a talk all about Leave No Trace principles and then lead a hike along the trail.
You can then start hiking and enjoy a three- to four-mile hike that’s relatively flat and easy, with wonderful views of the Snake River.
Stay with the ranger to learn about the area flora, fauna and geology. Enjoy post-hike refreshments and prizes.
Meet at the Ice Harbor Dam Trailhead, outside Pasco.
The trail is ADA accessible, stroller accessible, and dogs are allowed on leash. Call 509-646-9218 for information.
Palouse Falls State Park
Palouse Falls is a showcase destination about 45 minutes away from Tri-Cities.
The park offers a remarkable view of a large waterfall, where the Palouse River runs through a narrow basalt cataract and drops 200 feet into a round churning bowl, and then through a winding gorge of columnar basalt, to the confluence with the Snake River.
After a Leave No Trace talk from the park ranger at 10 a.m., go on a guided hike that features the evidence of the Ice Age Floods, along with the area’s flora, fauna and geology of this area.
Meet near the bathroom at the state park’s lower parking lot.
The hike is rated easy, but it’s not ADA accessible. It is stroller accessible.
Dogs are not allowed on leash.
Call 509-646-9218 for information.
Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, near Coulee City
Sun Lakes-Dry Falls is dead center in one of Washington’s most striking and historically significant landscapes.
Dry Falls was carved by Ice Age floods more than 13,000 years ago.
The now much-eroded waterfall was once four times the size of Niagara Falls.
Today, it is still an imposing 400-foot-high, 3.5-mile-wide cliff that contrasts with big sky and a remarkable landscape filled with deep rocky gorges and cool, dark, reflective lakes.
The park is a notable site along the National Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail.
A park ranger will talk about the geology at 10 a.m., depending on the participant preferences, then lead a hike to either Sun Lakes or Lake Lenore Caves.
Meet at the Dry Falls Visitor Center. The hike will be a moderately difficult four to five miles.
The hike is not ADA or stroller accessible, and dogs are not allowed.
Paul Krupin is an avid local hiking enthusiast, retired environmental specialist, and a member of the Intermountain Alpine Club (IMAC). He has been hiking the trails of the Pacific Northwest since 1976. Find out more at the IMAC Facebook or Meetup pages. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.