Ranger-led First Day Hikes, a beloved tradition to start the new year in Oregon, will return in 2022 following last year’s suspension of the program due to the pandemic.
Oregon Parks Forever, the nonprofit dedicated to raising funds to maintain state recreation areas, announced today that the Jan. 1 rugged walks would once again be guided by personnel who provide details about the geology and history of each location.
The number of hikes available is dramatically smaller in 2022 when compared to what the agency offered prior to COVID-19. Typically, there are sessions at dozens of parks in every region of the state. This time around, only three sites are participating.
But the return of the activity on any scale is a welcome change, since recreationalists who wanted to ring in 2021 with a hike were told by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to go it alone.
So if you’d rather spend the first few hours of 2022 engaged in some brisk cardio instead of crumpled up in bed nursing a New Year’s Eve-induced hangover, your three guided hike options take place at Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria, Champoeg State Heritage Area just east of Newberg, and Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park near Florence along the Central Oregon Coast. At this point, there is no need to register to join, and day-use parking fees will be waived that day.
Another winter ritual typically aided by state park volunteers at Depoe Bay will not go forward this year. The coastal town’s popular Whale Watching Center remains closed because of concerns about viral spread.
So while you may not be able to use the facility’s binoculars or ask a stationed ranger any questions, there are plenty of open-air perches along the Pacific where you can keep an eye out for gray whales traveling south to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico. The migration period begins in mid-December and continues for about a month.