Free Guided First Day Hikes are back, giving you the chance to take a ranger and volunteer-led tour of 31 Oregon State Parks on New Year’s Day.
The Jan. 1 hikes are free and the $5 day-use parking fee is waived that day for all state parks that require a parking permit and are open.
You can find a full list of the participating parks at this link. Among the Central Oregon parks taking part are:
- Deschutes River State Recreation Area: registration required
- LaPine State Park registration required – Limited number of spots available
- Prineville Reservoir State Park
- Smith Rock State Park (Reserve one of the limited number of spots available)
Additional hike information such as hike times, meet-up locations and trail terrain are available via the park links on the web page.
Remember to plan for winter weather, dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and carry binoculars for viewing wildlife.
“I’m excited that we can offer 34 guided hikes in 31 state parks this year,” Oregon Parks and Recreation District Director Lisa Sumption said in a statement. “When more parks offer hikes, Oregonians have more options to hike near their homes or explore a new park and trail. Plus, this year we’re including more trail accessibility information in our online hike descriptions and are offering reasonable accommodations so visitors of all abilities can join us.”
Here are specific details about the Central Oregon First Day Hikes
Deschutes River First Day Hike (Registration required at this link)
Take a ranger-led hike on the historic Deschutes River Trail through the Deschutes River Canyon. The hike will loop from the Deschutes River Trail onto the Ferry Springs Trail to climb along an old wagon road to the highest point in the park with magnificent views of the Deschutes River Scenic Waterway. We will then dive back down into the canyon and onto the Blackberry Trail for the final leg along the rivers edge back to the campground.
Time: 9am – 12pm
Meet at: Oregon Trail Kiosk
Trail Names: Deschutes River Trail, Ferry Springs Trail and Blackberry Trail
Trail Terrain: Strenuous
Length of Hike: 5 miles
Recommended minimum age: 15 years old
Things to Note: This hike includes minor water crossings and large elevation gain/loss . Hiking boots, water, and weather appropriate clothing are necessary. Hike details may change depending on weather/trail conditions.
First Day Wildlife Hike with Think Wild! (Registration Required at this link)
Join us for a hike on January 1st, 2024 to celebrate the new year! Hike with a Wildlife Specialist from Central Oregon’s wildlife rehab and education center, Think Wild, and a LaPine State Park Ranger. We’ll trek along the Cougar Woods Trail and keep our eyes peeled for wildlife tracks in the snow as we wander through a winter wonderland. Be prepared for cold weather and potentially icy trails. Traction devices highly recommended for shoes.
Please meet in the South Loop Campground. From there we will walk the Cougar Woods Trail, which is three miles long and relatively flat.
Time: 10am – 12pm
Meeting location: South Loop Campground (follow signs to “Campground Loops”)
What to wear/bring: Weather appropriate clothing, winter boots, water, and snacks
For more info: LaPine State Park Office: 541-536-2428
First Day Hike At Lower 66 Trails
Join a ranger on a 1st Day Hike at the Lower 66 trails in Prineville. Come out and see a lovely view of Prineville and the mountain bike/hiking trails this area has to offer. We’ll be hiking the Rocky Raccoon trail which is a 1.5 mile round trip trail. Please meet the Ranger at the gate/Lower 66 trail head.
Hike starts at 10:00am
Rocky Raccoon trail is a 1.5 mile round trip trail, with mostly flat terrain with a slight elevation climb.
Hiking trail is at an easy level. Pet friendly event, but dogs must be on a leash no more than 6 ft. long. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
What to Wear/ Bring: Weather appropriate clothing, winter boots/hiking boots, water, and snacks.
Park staff will arrive 15 minutes early to provide instructions and additional information. The group will depart 10 minutes after the posted start time. Please be on time.
We value inclusion and access for all participants and are pleased to provide reasonable accommodations for this event. Please contact Ranger Roberto at 541-460-8935 to make a reasonable accommodation request. Requests must be submitted by December 18th 2023.
Canyon Trail hike at Smith Rock State Park (Limited spots available — register here)
Give 2024 a fresh start by putting on your hiking boots & immersing yourself in mindfulness, community, and the beauty of nature. Spending time in nature has many benefits, including improved concentration and reduced stress. Join Ranger Bridget to engage your senses in the natural world through “Forest Bathing”, and get curious about the world around you, as well as the world inside you!
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Terrain/Difficulty: This Canyon Trail hike is about 3 miles. A moderate out and back trail located within the Crooked River canyon, there is about 450 feet of total elevation gain. The trail is narrow and rocky in places, and is not paved.
Accessibility: The majority of this hike will be level along the river, but there may be accessibility challenges at the start and end of hike due to steeper sections in and out of the canyon. We are interested in facilitating full participation for all however we can. To request any reasonable accommodations, contact Bridget at 541-548-7501 and submit your request at least 3 days in advance.
Please wear appropriate layered winter clothing and hiking shoes, being mindful of weather conditions (if icy, hiking poles and traction devices are advised). Bring water and a snack. If bringing dogs, they must be on a leash no longer than 6’ at ALL times.
Meeting Location: Park staff will greet you in the open grassy area by the Welcome Center (green yurt). Please be on time as the group will depart as soon as introductions and safety instructions are complete.