New Traditions

Don’t procrastinate. Start the year off right with a hike, walk, or ride in a Detroit-area park.


Illustration by Alanna Cavanagh

Here’s something you probably already knew: The number of people who stick to their New Year’s resolutions is low. Really low. Around 8 percent low, according to one University of Scranton study.

Luckily there are ample opportunities throughout metro Detroit to ensure your health and fitness goals get off to a strong start on or around the first day of the new year. 

First Day Hikes are an America State Park nationwide initiative to get people outdoors. It spread to all 50 state park systems in 2012. But other groups have jumped on the bandwagon or have organized similar outings for years.

Snow, rain, or shine, you’ll find plenty of healthy, outdoor fun on foot, on bikes, and yes, even on the water. (If that sounds cold, realize that we said on the water, not in it.)

And no matter what your preference for an outdoor workout, be sure to review our exercise tips before heading out.


Belle Isle, New Year’s Eve

What began as a small, friendly fun run and spaghetti dinner has turned into a New Year’s tradition for hundreds. At 45 years old, the Belle Isle New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run/Walk is one of the longest continuously held running events in Michigan. And at close to 2,000 yearly participants, it remains one of the most popular, too. Between the 1-mile all-ages fun run and the 5K run/racewalk/fitness walk, there’s something to get everyone’s blood pumping. The course starts at the Belle Isle Casino and snakes its way around the island’s western end where the views of the Detroit skyline make facing the winter cold worthwhile. “It can be a little colder on Belle Isle because we are by the water,” says race director Jeanne Bocci. “But it’s such a beautiful area to run in if we do get snow.” 
Dec. 31, 2014,

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Paddling Proud Lake State Recreation Area

In addition to hiking and snowshoeing, New Year’s Day at Proud Lake includes the opportunity to enjoy a winter paddling excursion down the Huron River with Heavner Canoe and Kayak Rental. The family has been offering recreation equipment at Proud Lake and other metro Detroit parks for 60 years, and that includes both summer and winter. “We started [a New Year’s Day event] years ago, and now it’s gotten kind of big,” says Heavner Canoe’s owner Alan Heavner. “It’s sort of an open house to bring people to the realization that we have a wonderful park sys-tem in Michigan that’s open year-round.” This year, a fitness instructor will also be on hand to provide winter exercise tips and training information.
Jan. 1, 2015,

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March Through Maybury State Park

Join the Friends of Maybury State Park and other outdoor adventurers for a 2- to 3-mile “Shoe Year’s Day” hike through the park. Hot chocolate and coffee will be on hand post-trek to bring back feeling into those cold fingers and toes. Other state parks and local recreation areas will be hosting “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes of their own, some on Jan. 1, others (like Maybury) on other days of the week. For a full list of participating locations, visit 

Jan. 3, 2015,

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Biking Through Ypsilanti

The cold doesn’t stop the folks of Bike Ypsi from pedaling through the winter, not even on Jan. 1. The group will be hosting two group rides on New Year’s Day: The first begins promptly at 12:30 a.m. (yes, that’s 30 minutes after midnight) and covers 6 miles. “It’s incredibly peaceful out,” says ride leader Bob Krzewinski. “We just use quiet residential streets and I don’t think the real craziness starts until two in the morning.” The second takes off at 1 p.m. and covers 12 miles, (1 mile for each month of the year) depending on weather and riding conditions. Any and all bike types and riders are welcome, though the group requires functioning front and rear lights for the early morning ride.
Jan. 1, 2015,

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Fit in Farmington

Life Time Fitness is putting on more than 60 family-friendly “Commitment Day” 5K fun runs and walks throughout the country to kick off 2015. In Michigan, make good on your own commitments with a run in downtown Farmington, which will start and end at George F. Riley Park and head through city streets and subdivisions.
Jan. 1, 2015,

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