About 25 years ago, it's said that some hikers in Massachusetts decided to designate a walk in the Blue Hills Reservation on January 1st as a "First Day Hike." Now, all 50 states have some form of the official National First Day Hike, which is in its 10th year.

Go For a Hike in January

Montana State Parks are hosting a half-dozen January hikes throughout the state. Western Montana has Travelers' Rest State Park in Lolo. The park, alongside Highway 12, will have brochures and activity guides at the park kiosk (right outside the visitor center) and self-guided hikes will happen between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. The suggested one-and-a-half mile hike will take you to the only "archaeologically verified" Lewis and Clark Expedition campsite. They even stayed there twice - once on the way over to the Pacific and again on the way back.

Hiking at Flathead State Park

At Flathead Lake State Park, there are First Day Hikes at Big Arm, Wayfarers and West Shore Units. There are other hiking trails, too - Yellow Bay, Finley Point, and Wild Horse Island. They are having a contest during the month of January where the hiker with most miles (hiking, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, sledding or cross-country skiing) from each park will receive a prize.

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Hiking at Lone Pine State Park

Lone Pine State Park, five miles south of Kalispell, has over seven miles of trails and great views. Birds and animal tracks will let you know what other creatures are out in the winter.

Other Montana Hikes

In the rest of Montana, there are three more First Day Hike events. You can have a short hike at Spring Meadow Lake State Park at 11 a.m. Makoshika State Park will use the Bluebird Trail at 11 a.m., with free food and refreshments in the visitor center. Call 406 377-6256. At First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, the park opens from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with a 3-mile trail. You can hike on your own or join a guided hike at 1:30 p.m. to explain the buffalo jump. Call 406 866-2217 for more information.

How to Prepare for your First Day Hike in Montana

The hikes are open to all ages and you should be prepared for the changing winter weather. Bring a water bottle. If it's icy, ice cleats or snowshoes are recommended. And afterward, you can report your hike at #FirstDayHikes. Of course, you could just go out and start your own First Day Hike tradition at your favorite hiking location.

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