America's State Parks Celebrate the Start of a New Year With First Day Hikes on January 1, 2012

Arkansas State Parks Joins This Nationwide Invitation to Begin the New Year by Joining Family or Friends on a Trek along a State Park Trail Close to Home

For Immediate Release

(MURFREESBORO, Ark.)--First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The initiative targeted the first of January—the start of a new year—to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and the year-round recreation that can be experienced locally in state parks. Through the years, other states have joined this health initiative by also offering First Day Hikes and other outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day. January 1, 2012, will mark the first time all 50 state park systems will join together to sponsor First Day Hikes, according to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) and America’s State Parks (www.americasstateparks.org), an alliance launched by the NASPD to advocate for the healthful and economic benefits provided by the 50 state park systems across the nation. America’s State Parks invites the public to enjoy free, guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2012 at local state parks.

According to Arkansas State Parks Director Greg Butts, “State parks around Arkansas will join Americas State Parks’ nationwide invitation to the public to enjoy First Day Hikes by offering individuals and families the opportunity to begin the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1.” He emphasized, “Enjoying a state park trail is a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and welcome the New Year with family and friends.” Butts noted that Arkansas’s state park system includes 137 trails totaling 370 miles. “Explore a trail on your own, or join a state park interpreter on a guided hike. Our interpreters will connect you to the beauty and history found in the parks, and you’ll enjoy shared experiences that will make memories to last a lifetime.”

“Diversity is the hallmark of Arkansas’s state park system, and that is certainly represented in the variety of trail experiences to be enjoyed in our parks,” said Butts. Arkansas State Parks trails range in length from short nature walks to overnight backpacking adventures. Trails lead hikers through rugged, scenic terrain in Arkansas’s two mountain ranges, the Ozarks and the Ouachitas. Trails stretch along the shores of Arkansas’s great lakes and into bottomlands teeming with wildlife. Hikers can follow the banks of renowned rivers including wild and scenic streams. Trail enthusiasts can explore state historic sites and Arkansas’s diamond site. Barrier-free trails accommodate the needs of visitors with disabilities. And among this wide variety of trails are nationally-designated trails. In addition to walking and hiking trails, the state park system also includes biking, equestrian, river, and off highway vehicle trails. There are even trails on the water.

Arkansas State Parks’ First Day Hikes on January 1 will be held at the following state parks:

• Bull Shoals-White River State Park (Bull Shoals)—Big Bluff Trail from 10 a.m.- noon

• Davidsonville Historic State Park (Pocahontas)—Black River Trail from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

• Devil’s Den State Park (West Fork)—Devil’s Den Trail from 2 p.m.-4 p.m.

• Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area (Rogers)—Shaddox Hollow Trail from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Ozark Plateau Trail from 2 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

• Jacksonport State Park (Jacksonport)—Tunstall Riverwalk Trail from 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

• Lake Fort Smith State Park (Mountainburg)—Ozark Highlands Trail from 9 a.m. 11:30 a.m. followed by a potluck lunch brought by the trail hike participants [RSVP to the park is requested]

• Millwood State Park (Ashdown)—Wildlife Lane Trail from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

• Mississippi River State Park (Marianna)—Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail from 2 p.m.-2:45 p.m.

• Moro Bay State Park (Jersey)—Deer Run Trail from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

• Mount Magazine State Park (Paris)—Signal Hill Trail (meet near cabin #5) from 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

• Petit Jean State Park (Morrilton)—Cedar Falls Trail from 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., Bear Cave Trail from 11 a.m.-11:45 a.m., Cedar Creek Trail from 1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m., and Rock House Cave Trail from 3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m.

• Pinnacle Mountain State Park (Roland)—West Summit Trail from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and Kingfisher Trail from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

• Powhatan Historic State Park (Powhatan)—Historic Site Tour from 10 a.m.-noon

• Village Creek State Park (Wynne)—Old Military Road Trail from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

Details about these hikes in Arkansas’s state parks are available online at: http://tinyurl.com/FirstDayHikes

“What better way to kick off the New Year than with a hike at a state park?” said Ruth Coleman, president of the NASPD. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s state parks on New Year’s Day.” “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.”

America’s state parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Park visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Outdoor enthusiasts can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas, and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide. State 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 across the country, difficulty and length, terrain, and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website. Visit http://www.americasstateparks.org and click on your state of interest to find a First Day Hike nearest you.

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.

For additional information about First Day Hikes in Arkansas’s state parks, contact: Greg Butts, director, Arkansas State Parks, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201; phone: 501-682-7743; greg.butts@arkansas.gov

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