Why not start 2014 with a little outdoor adventure? Several organizations plan New Years Day outings that are open to the public and either free or relatively cheap. In fact, The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands will sponsor free, guided hikes in five Maine state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative. The following list includes those five hikes, as well as a few additional outdoor events you may want to check out on New Years Day:
BEAVER COVE — Ranger-led hike along the shore of Moosehead Lake, noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 1, at Lily Bay State Park. This leisurely one-hour hike along the shore of Moosehead Lake. Wear warm clothes and sturdy shoes or boots. Meet at the entry booth parking lot. For information, call 695-2700.
CARRABASSETT VALLEY — All 4 eco-lodges within the Maine Huts & Trails system near the town of Carrabassett will be serving a champagne toast to overnight guests on New Year’s Eve. Stratton Brook Hut and Flagstaff Hut will host a special New Year’s Eve experience with a decorated dining room and a festive four-course meal serving locally sourced organic ingredients. Soup, salad, main course, dessert, and a variety of sides will be served, along with beer and wine for purchase, starting at 6pm. For information, visit the Maine Huts & Trails website at www.mainehuts.org or call 265-2400.
CASCO — 1.5-mile woodlands hike, starting 10: 30 a.m. Jan. 1, at Sebago Lake State Park, 11 Park Access Road. Snacks will be provided and hikers should wear warm clothes and sturdy foot wear. Snowshoes are a good idea if people have them. Meet at the day use area boat launch. For information, call 693-6231.
FREEPORT — “Winter in the Woods,” a program to learn how plants and animals survive the cold weather months and a 0.3-mile guided walk, starting at 10 a.m. Jan. 1, at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, 426 Wolfe’s Neck Road. The program length is approximately one hour in length. Dress for the weather. Meet at the picnic shelter by second parking lot. Dogs are not suitable for this hike. For information, call 865-4465.
GRAND LAKE STREAM — Community ice skate and cookout, starting at 1 p.m. Jan. 1, at Green Law Chopping on Water Street. The event is organized by the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, in partnership with the Washington County Community College and the Grand Lake Stream Snowmobile Club. This program may be rescheduled depending on weather. For information, call the Downeast Lakes Land Trust at 796-2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHIPPSBURG — Easy, 1-mile hike on the Fox Island tombolo to investigate tidal pools, starting at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 1, at Popham Beach State Park. Wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear. Meet at the west side parking lot. For more information, call 389-1335.
POLAND — A 1.5-mile, ranger-lead hike on an interpretive trail and along the beach, starting 12:30 p.m. Jan. 1, at Range Ponds State Park. The trail is easy with one short hill. Visitors are encouraged to bring warm clothes, boots or snowshoes if the snow is deep. Meet at the flagpole in front of bathroom buildings. For information, call 998-4104.
STEUBEN — New Year’s Day sunrise hike starting a bit before 6:30 a.m. Jan. 1, at the Pigeon Hill Trailhead located 4.5 miles south of Route 1 on Pigeon Hill Road. Pack your morning coffee or tea in a thermos and be prepared for winter hiking conditions; the trail may be covered with snow and ice. For information, visit www.downeastcoastalconservancy.org.