First Day Hikes, Local Trails Provide Winter Recreation

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
On New Year’s Day, First Day Hikes are being held across the nation in collaboration with state parks and the National Parks Service.

First Day Hikes are designed to encourage people to begin the New Year by reconnecting with the outdoors and to help people keep the common New Year’s resolution to be healthier. More than 50 First Day Hikes are being held in New York State.

Fort Ontario will host its third annual First Day Hike and guided tour on New Year’s Day.

Fort Ontario Superintendent Paul Lear will lead people on a 3-kilometer tour and he will discuss when the fort was a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I.

Another official First Day Hike will be hosted at the Sacket’s Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the history trail at the battlefield site as a National Recreation Trail.

Participants are encouraged to prepare for diverse weather conditions and may bring snowshoes or cross country skis, weather permitting.

Though the public is invited to participate in the First Day Hikes, there are many other trails throughout the region that provide opportunities for people to stay fit in the winter months.

We are fortunate in this area to have trails along lakes, rivers, and waterways where hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and even snow biking can be enjoyed during the seasons.

Winona Forest will host its 4th annual IditaFat Bike Race on March 4.

The 200 inches of snow that typically fall in Winona Forest make it a great location for fat bike trails and races.

The off-road bicycles have oversized tires and rims that allow for riding in the snow.

There is a 12K, 25K or 36K race for people to choose from.

Parks in Onondaga County offer snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Beaver Lake Nature Center has done a great job making it easy for the public to snowshoe in the winter by offering snowshoe rentals on site for a small fee.

Volunteers there work to help make the activity available.

On a sunny, winter day, this provides a great and enjoyable workout for the whole family.

Regardless of whether your New Year goal is to be more fit, there are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and find a nearby getaway in nature during the winter weather.

To register for the Fort Ontario hike on Jan. 1 at 10 a.m., call (315) 343-4711, visit the Fort’s facebook page, or email [email protected]

The tour begins inside the old stone fort located at the north end of East Fourth Street in Oswego.

The Sackets Harbor walk starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Sackets Harbor Visitors’ Center on the corner of Main and Bayard streets and brings visitors through parts of the Battlefield History Trail and village’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Trail, and ends at the visitors’ center.

To register for the Sackets Harbor call (315) 646-3634 or (315) 646-2321.

To learn more about the bike race in Winona Forest, visit

To learn more about Beaver Lake snowshoe rentals, call (315) 638-2519.

Snowshoe clinics are available on Saturdays and Sundays in January and February but visitors must register in advance.

To view a map of nearly all of Oswego County’s trails and scenic areas, visit

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.