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Breakheart in Saugus is a part of First Day Hike tradition

SAUGUS — For nearly three decades, Massachusetts residents have taken off their New Year’s Eve party shoes to lace up their hiking boots.

The First Day Hike on New Year’s Day was started in 1992 at the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton with 380 hikers. More than 1,000 participants each year continue to hike at the reservation.

The tradition was adopted at State Parks across Massachusetts, and in 2012, it went national. More than 55,000 people participated in guided hikes that covered 133,000 miles on 1,100 hikes across the United States. Last year, the hikes become an international movement with the addition of activities in Ontario parks in Canada.

“I always say that Massachusetts is known for starting revolutions,” said Priscilla Geigis, deputy commissioner of the Department of Recreation and Conservation. “We’ve started another one that has now gone across the nation.”

The hikes are meant to encourage year-round healthy living and remind the public that state parks are always open for recreational activities.

“This is really to get people outside and connected to nature,” said Geigis. “A lot of people make a New Year’s resolution to go and get fit and get healthy, so we’re capitalizing on that. They can start a new year out on a healthy hike. It’s really to foster healthy lifestyles and also to highlight that parks are available during all four seasons.”

As much as it is about creating a healthy lifestyle, it’s about spending time with others, said Geigis. For many, it has become a tradition to hike every New Year’s Day.  

This year, there will be a dozen hikes across the state and at least one in every other state. There will be more than 1,000 hikes total.

Two of the hikes will be at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus. One will be guided on a two-mile loop and a second, more moderate hike will be guided on a three-mile loop.

Both will begin at 10 a.m. at the Christopher P. Dunne Visitor Center.

“Breakheart is an incredible place,” said Geigis. “Suddenly you feel like you’re not near the city at all.”

Geigis recommends bringing hiking boots, bottled water, and dressing for the weather. She also recommends bringing sunglasses and wearing sunblock.

Chowder and hot cocoa will be provided for the hikers by Kelly’s Roast Beef. The hikes are co-sponsored by The Friends of Breakheart.

For more information about First Day Hikes, visit  

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