January 4 2019,  Saugus

Walking into 2019

Hundreds participate in “First Day Hike” on New Year’s Day at Breakheart Reservation

An estimated 250 people started off the New Year on the right foot — with a healthy walk at Breakheart Reservation. Singles, couples, families and also a person in a wheelchair enjoyed the annual New Year’s Day hike at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, according to Peter A. Rossetti, Jr., a member of the Friends of Breakheart Reservation Board of Directors.

“The weather was perfect for hiking, in the 50’s and sunny,” Rossetti wrote in an email to The Saugus Advocate.

Rangers and staff from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which manages Breakheart, led two different walks that began in the morning. One of the hikes covered two miles. There was a second, more difficult three-mile hike for walkers who desired a tougher challenge.

“The participants were then taken to the visitors center for hot chocolate or coffee, cookies and clam chowder from Kelly’ Roast Beef on Route 1 in front of a warming fireplace,” Rossetti said.

Besides the exercise, there was a bonus for those who turned out to this year’s walk – which is part of a long New Year’s Day tradition at parks throughout Massachusetts. “During the hike, visitors were shown some of the signs of wildlife that are in the park and some of the different plant species also,” Rossetti said.

Breakheart is a 600-acre state-operated reservation with paved roads and nature trails through the forest. It is located at 177 Forest St. in Saugus, open from dawn until dusk daily and staffed by DCR personnel.

Saugus was one of several communities throughout the state that again joined in the nationwide celebration of America’s State Parks, as part of the First Day Hikes Initiative. This year marks the 28th year that DCR has offered First Day Hikes, “making sure the public has new and fun outdoor recreational options to take part in this holiday,” DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said.

“First Day Hikes provide a great start to the New Year, and are an excellent way for residents of all ages to enjoy the wonderful opportunities that await them in the Commonwealth’s state parks,” he said.

Begun in 1992 at Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Mass., First Day Hikes were launched to enable year-round outdoor recreation and to inspire the public to discover the Commonwealth’s impressive natural resources. A growing collection of participating states culminated when, in 2012, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor America’s State Parks First Day Hikes Initiative, which has since become the signature nationwide program for the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).

“For years, Massachusetts residents have welcomed in the New Year with a trek outdoors to appreciate the stunning natural resources of our state,” state Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton said. “The Baker-Polito Administration is thrilled to continue this tradition, and residents are encouraged to attend a guided hike where they will find passionate and dedicated DCR staff working hard to ensure land is protected and conserved for generations to come.”

This week across Massachusetts, visitors to the state parks found opportunities to experience unique and cultural treasures that are close to home. From hiking along mountain tops to traversing through forests, visitors found themselves surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Commonwealth’s natural landscapes. In Massachusetts, park staff led the hikes, which averaged from one to two miles or longer depending on location.

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