Park Connect, January 2018

January 2018  |  Issue 43

Taughannock Falls First Day HIke 2018

New Yorkers Shake Off the Cold for First Day Hikes

On January 1, frigid temperatures encased the northeast U.S. impacting the 7th Annual First Day Hikes program, but more than 2,300 intrepid participants braved the extreme conditions to kick-off 2018 in the outdoors.  This year the state Department of Environmental Conservation joined with New York State Parks in hosting the hikes, expanding the variety of options available across the Empire State. 

Because of the below-normal temperatures, some of the 75 originally-planned First Day Hikes were cancelled, postponed or shortened but those who hiked were glad they opted to celebrate outside among New York’s scenic winter beauty.  From smaller groups to the hundreds who showed up at several larger facilities, hikers of all ages enjoyed camaraderie and expertise of staff and volunteers at more than 55 state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, Forest Preserve trails and environmental education centers.  

Hikes are great ways to stay healthy, connect with people, discover a new park or embrace an old favorite.  If you missed joining in this year’s First Day Hike, be sure to mark your calendar and save the date in 2019. But in the meantime, visit for guided walks and hikes being held weekends (and some weekdays) at locations across the state this winter.   

Winter fun

Winter Fun

From cross-country skiing to ice skating to snowmobiling, there’s lots to do in winter in New York.

Find out which State Parks our staff recommend for snowshoeing.

Enjoy watching wildlife? Learn about New York’s winter bird population, discover how to decipher winter animal tracks, or take part in one of our popular seal walks at Jones Beach State Park. 

New York State boasts more than 10,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Join a snowmobile club and discover the thrill of snowmobiling.

Visit our calendar of events for more ideas about fun things to do in New York State Parks. Read more 

Snowmobiling in NY State Parks

Free Snowmobile Weekend

Governor Cuomo is welcoming visitors to New York’s snowmobile trails. The state’s annual will be held in communities across New York on Friday, February 2, through Monday, February 5, for all out-of-state and Canadian snowmobilers. Registration fees will be waived for properly registered and insured out-of-state snowmobiling enthusiasts wishing to explore New York’s 10,400 miles of trails.
As part of the state’s support for snowmobile, the Governor also announced more than $5 million for snowmobile trail maintenance and grooming across New York State. Read more

New park in Brooklyn

New York to Create New State Park in Brooklyn

Governor Cuomo announced in his annual State of the State address that New York State, in partnership with the National Park Service and the City of New York, are working to establish a new 407-acre state park on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, providing crucial new open space access to one of the most park-poor areas of the state. The new state park complements the state's efforts to create more pocket parks, community gardens, playgrounds and recreation centers within a ten-minute walk for every Central Brooklyn resident.

The park will open 3.5 miles of waterfront, miles of paths and trails, and a coastal highland planted with native species to create new opportunities for biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and waterfront environmental education. Read more

Sweet Deal 

If you haven’t already bought your Empire Pass online at the $65 price, act now!  The new 2018 Empire Pass can be shared among a household and is the key to all-season enjoyment at state parks, forests, beaches, trails, nature centers and more.  The pre-season sale price is good through March 31, 2018. Learn more

Roberto Clemente State Park Pitches In for Puerto Rico

Roberto Clemente State Park Pitches In for Puerto Rico

In response to the widespread damage and devastation from Hurricane Maria, Governor Cuomo launched the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico to provide needed services, goods and funds to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild, and provides opportunities for New Yorkers to contribute to the relief efforts. Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx was designated a drop-off location where citizens could donate much-needed goods for shipment to Puerto Rico. Nearly 200 full pallets of donations – including items such as batteries, flashlights, diapers, cases of water -- were accepted, sorted, stacked, wrapped, and loaded onto trucks by park staff and volunteers. Learn more

lake bonita

Governor's Budget Proposal Continues State Park Revitalization

Governor Cuomo's 2018-19 Executive Budget holds great news for State Parks, by continuing his bold plan to invest $900 million in State Parks by 2020. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 plan is funding capital improvement projects that are providing visitors with safe, fun and modern facilities at our state parks and historic sites. Learn more

Susan Carver

Behind the Scenery with Susan Carver, Environmental Educator

How long have you been with the agency?  Three years.

What does someone in your position do? My job is about helping New Yorkers know more about the animals and plants in our state parks. I do this by managing the New York State Parks blog; administering the Connect Kids Field Trip Grant program which has helped thousands of public school children visit state lands; visiting state parks with nature centers and helping staff with their projects; assisting state historic sites on environmental interpretation projects; and working with other state agencies on projects that get New Yorkers outdoors.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done while working for State? Listening to eight fourth graders spontaneously sing the national anthem to Sammi, the bald eagle at the Bear Mountain State Park zoo.

Is there a destination you’d recommend to someone? Hard to pick because we have so many great state parks and historic sites – whereever you go you can find beauty and wonder. 

What inspired you to work in the park system? When I was a child, my family and I would spend summer afternoons in the state park in my Massachusetts hometown.  Spending time in this special place started my lifelong love of state parks.  I feel especially lucky working for New York State Parks which manages so many amazing places.


Register to Vote