The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced that five Kansas state parks will participate in the America’s State Parks “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day 2013. Each guided hike will offer individuals and families opportunities to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on the first day of the year.
Events are free at all locations. Except for Kaw River State Park, all participating state parks will require an annual or daily park permit for entry to the park, which will be available at the park office before the hikes begin. For all hikes, participants should wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and bring binoculars, camera, snacks and water bottle. State park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles in length.
“I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than hiking through one of our beautiful Kansas state parks,” said Linda Craghead, KDWPT Assistant Secretary for Parks and Tourism. “Hiking on one of the many maintained state park trails promotes a healthy lifestyle, is a great family activity and blends stunning winter landscapes with opportunities to see a variety of wildlife.”
Information about Kansas state parks is available online at ksoutdoors.com. The following hikes are scheduled:
Kaw River State Park, Topeka
A 1.5- to 2-mile hike of easy to moderate difficulty. The event begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the Region 2 Office of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, located at 300 SW Wanamaker Road, Topeka (from the 6th Street/Wanamaker Road roundabout, proceed north on Wanamaker and follow the signs). The route will be on natural and gravel-surfaced trails through oak/hickory woodlands near the Kansas River. Hikers may see different types of small wildlife and habitats. Contact the park office at 785-271-7346 for information.
Tuttle Creek State Park, Tuttle Creek Reservoir, Manhattan
An easy 1.5-mile hike. The event begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the state park office. Visitors can expect to see waterfowl, and there’s a good chance to spot bald eagles, as well. Contact the park office at 785-539-7941 for information.
Eisenhower State Park, Melvern Reservoir, 30 miles south of Topeka, 3 miles west of US-75
A 2-mile hike of moderate difficulty along a loop of the Crooked Knee Horse Trail. Adventurous hikers can opt to walk the entire 17-mile trail. The event begins at 10 a.m. Meet at the Crooked Knee Trailhead, located west of the park office. The trail is not ADA accessible. Participants may see native and migratory wildlife, including waterfowl and deer. Park staff will serve hot soup to participants after the hike. Dogs are welcome at the event, but they must be kept on a lead no more than 10 feet long. Contact the park office at 785-528-4102 for information.
Cross Timbers State Park, Toronto Reservoir, 12 miles west of Yates Center, south of US-54
An easy 1.25-mile hike on Overlook Trail. The hike begins at 1:30 p.m. Meet at the Overlook Trailhead, on the east side of the dam. Hikers will have opportunities to see eagles, deer, lichens and discuss the Cross Timbers Ecosystem with the guide. Contact the park office at 620-637-2213 for information.
Elk City State Park, Elk City Reservoir, 5 miles northwest of Independence
A 1-mile hike of easy to moderate difficulty along the Green Thumb Nature Trail. Hike begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the park office. Hikers may see small wildlife such as bald eagles, waterfowl and deer. Contact the park office at 620-331-6295 for information.
The guided First Day Hikes are sponsored by America’s State Parks. First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike at a state park. First Day Hikes are a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. There are 645 First Day Hikes scheduled across the United States. For more information on the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes, visit http://www.americasstateparks.org/first-day-hikes.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism