Begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on Jan. 1, at a state park close to home. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hosting free, guided hikes in four state parks and recreation areas on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.
Hikes will be offered at Big Creek State Park (Polk County) at 10 a.m.; Walnut Woods State Park (Polk County) at 9 a.m.; Mines of Spain State Recreation Area (Dubuque County) at 1 p.m. and Brushy Creek State Recreation Area (Webster County) at 1 p.m. Visit www.iowadnr.gov/StateParkEvents for detailed information regarding the hikes.
“First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks,” said Kevin Szcodronski, bureau chief of Iowa’s state parks.
First Day Hikes is part of a national effort to get people outdoors and into state parks.
“Last year, we hosted more than 14,000 people who hiked more than 30,000 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2012 in all 50 states,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).
“To start 2013, we’re inviting kids and adults to get their hearts pumping and experience the beauty of our state parks at one of more than 400 hikes nationwide. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”
America’s state parks offer a beautiful setting for year-round outdoor recreation and each First Day Hike is an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.
“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Phil McNelly, NASPD’s executive director. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”
First Day Hikes began more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to promote healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Last year marked the first time all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes, offering 400 hikes nationwide.
Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer, depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website, www.americasstateparks.org.
America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.
Logo courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources