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First Day Hikes will continue at Oregon state parks on New Year's Day

There’s no better place to say “good riddance” to 2020 than the natural beauty of one of Oregon’s state parks.

Whether you’re throwing the old year into the ocean or shouting joyfully to the mountains, the annual First Day Hikes event on New Year’s Day offers a slice of a Northwest nature in which you can celebrate.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced earlier this month that the traditional event will continue on the first day of 2021, though the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced a few changes.

Most notable is the absence of any ranger or volunteer-led hikes, leaving visitors to explore parks on their own. Some parks will instead display posters showing recommended hikes and ranger favorites, the parks department said.

Park officials also are asking that visitors continue to follow public health guidelines, including keeping distance from people not in your household and wearing face masks when distance isn’t possible. People are encouraged to visit parks close to their homes, and to avoid parks that are overcrowded.

As always, parking will be free at all Oregon state parks on Jan. 1. While most state park sites don’t usually charge parking fees, 25 of the most popular places do, including Silver Falls, Fort Stevens and Smith Rock state parks. The parks department sells day passes as well as annual park passes for the rest of the year. Parking will also be free at Washington state parks on New Year’s Day.

First Day Hikes will come on the heels of Winter Whale Watch Week, another winter tradition at Oregon state parks that will go on without rangers or volunteers this season.