New Year’s Day is a time of renewal and family bonding. Across the country, families come together to share meals, enjoy the outdoors, and partake in celebratory parades, creating memories that last a lifetime. Among these cherished traditions, nature walks stand out as a refreshing way to start the year with nature’s tranquility and beauty.
Sustainable Jungle recently commissioned a survey aimed at discovering the best nature walks to do on New Year’s Day. It surveyed 3,000 families asking them to rate which New Year’s Day nature walks across the U.S. they would most like to experience at the start of 2024. Sustainable Jungle then put together a list of the 150 most sought after nature walks to do on New Year’s Day. Here are the top 10:
1. Lanikai Pillbox Hike in Oahu, Hawaii. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the islands’ beauty, Lanikai Pillbox Hike on Oahu emerged as the most sought-after nature walk to experience on New Year’s Day. It is a 1.6-mile hike offering panoramic views of Lanikai and Kailua. It can be a challenging hike with some rocky parts, ideal for families who hike often.
2. Lookout Mountain Trails in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In second place came Lookout Mountain Trails in Chattanooga. Offering a range of trails with varying difficulty, the area around Lookout Mountain is perfect for families. The Guild-Hardy Trail is a popular option, providing a relatively easy and scenic walk through the forest with views of Chattanooga.
3. Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens Trail in Oahu, Hawaii. The third most popular New Year’s Day walk in the country is also in Hawaii. This 1.9- mile trail is more of a walk than a hike, passing through beautiful botanical gardens and ending at Waimea Falls.
4. Tomoka State Park, Florida. In fourth position is Tomoka State Park. It offers scenic trails where families can enjoy a leisurely walk amidst natural beauty. The Tomoka Trail is a half-mile trail that takes you along the Tomoka Point peninsula, and it’s known for its beautiful shady maritime oak trees.
5. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. This walk offers a unique experience of exploring cool cave formations. The Big Room trail is around 1.25-plus miles and has an option to take an elevator back up, which can be great for kids.
6. Amicalola Falls State Park Trails, Georgia. Located in the North Georgia mountains, this park is home to the tallest waterfall in Georgia, Amicalola Falls. The park offers various hiking trails, including the East Ridge Trail, which is a moderate 2.1- mile loop that provides stunning views of the waterfall and surrounding forests. There’s also a short, paved path to an overlook for those looking for an easier option.
7. Discovery Park Loop Trail in Seattle, Washington. This 2.8-mile loop trail in Seattle’s largest park offers a mix of forest and beach with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. It’s an easy, well-maintained trail that’s perfect for families looking for a nature escape within the city.
8. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Texas. This park offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. The Mission Reach Trail connects several historic missions and provides an easy, flat path suitable for all ages. It’s a great way to enjoy nature while also learning about Texas history.
9. Great Falls Park Trails near McLean, Virginia. Just outside of Washington, D. C., this park offers several easy trails that provide spectacular views of the falls where the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The River Trail, in particular, is a favorite for families.
10. Radnor Lake State Park Trails in Nashville, Tennessee. Rounding up the top 10 is Radnor Lake State Park. This state park features several easy trails that loop around Radnor Lake, providing a tranquil nature experience right in the city. The Lake Trail, in particular, is a flat, 1.3- mile path that’s perfect for a leisurely family walk.
The state of South Carolina had three nature walks voted among the 150 most popular in the country. These were:
80. Congaree National Park, Boardwalk Loop Trail. As South Carolina’s only national park, Congaree offers a unique old-growth bottomland hardwood forest. The Boardwalk Loop is an easy 2.6- mile trail elevated above the forest floor, allowing families to explore the park’s diverse ecosystem with minimal impact. It’s especially great for children, offering an up-close look at the park’s towering trees and wildlife.
86. Huntington Beach State Park Trails near Murrells Inlet. This coastal state park offers a variety of trails that are perfect for families. The Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail is a favorite, offering a gentle 2-mile round trip walk through a maritime forest and along a salt marsh, with great opportunities for birdwatching.
109. Caesars Head State Park, Raven Cliff Falls Trail. Located in the upstate region, this state park offers the Raven Cliff Falls Trail, a moderately easy hike that leads to an overlook with a view of Raven Cliff Falls, the tallest waterfall in South Carolina. The trail is about 4 miles round trip and offers beautiful mountain scenery.