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“First Day Hikes”: Free Hikes in California

01 January 2020

Saddleback Butte State Park, 17102 East Avenue J, Lancaster (corner of 170th St E and East Avenue J, near Lake Los Angeles)

9:00 AM

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“First Day Hikes”: Free Hikes in California

Celebrate the New Year with “First Day Hikes” at Saddleback Butte

Rejuvenate by taking a family friendly trek through a state park close to home.

California State Parks will sponsor free guided hikes at Saddleback Butte State Park on New Year’s Day, as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.  America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1st at a state park.  First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. 

“Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day” said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).  “Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit. We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

At Saddleback Butte State Park, staff and volunteers will lead the hikes which vary from an easy half mile to a strenuous five mile hike up the butte. Check in for all hikes at the park Visitor Center, 17102 East Avenue J, Lancaster (corner of 170th St E and East Avenue J, near Lake Los Angeles). Kids are welcome, but dogs are not allowed on trails in California State Parks. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the park’s Picnic  Area after returning from the hikes!  Fundraising activities will also be offered to benefit the Support Saddleback Committee (cash or checks only). Visit for more information and updates.

(times subject to change…)

9 a.m. – Hike to top of Saddleback Butte

Moderately strenuous. Five miles and about three hours round-trip; 1000 ft of elevation gain to an incredible view across the Mojave Desert.  Bring water and wear good hiking shoes and layered clothing; it can be very windy at the top. 

10 a.m. – Hike across the park

Easy to moderate.  4.3 miles with little elevation gain; about 1 ¾ hours.   Dress for the weather; bring water and hat, walking sticks are optional. Enjoy the beautiful high desert views over the Antelope Valley; this is a great winter’s hike. 

11 a.m. – Dowen Nature Trail

Easy.  Ranger-lead interpretive tour along the nature trail.  Learn about the unique natural and cultural history of the local area. 1/2 mile loop with mild elevation gain, about 1 hour; wheelchair/stroller accessible.

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.  From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, and feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.   

Nation-wide information about First Day Hikes offered, their difficulty and length, and tips regarding proper clothing can be found at America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children.  Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.