Enjoy a First Day Hike in an Arkansas State Park on January 1, 2014

Article follows the photos:
First Day Hike participants pose with Lake Dardanelle State Park interpreter on January 1, 2013.
First Day Hike participants pose with Lake Dardanelle State Park interpreter on January 1, 2013.
Hikers enjoy the snowy landscape at Petit Jean State Park on New Year' Day 2013.
Hikers enjoy the snowy landscape at Petit Jean State Park on New Year' Day 2013.
Young park visitors joined Petit Jean State Park's First Day Hike this year.
Young park visitors joined Petit Jean State Park's First Day Hike this year.
Moro Bay State Park was one of the parks offering a First Day Hike last year.
Moro Bay State Park was one of the parks offering a First Day Hike last year.

(LITTLE ROCK, 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 joined this health initiative by also offering First Day Hikes and other outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day. Now all 50 state park systems join together to sponsor First Day Hikes, according to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) and America’s State Parks, an alliance launched by the NASPD to advocate for the healthful and economic benefits provided by the 50 state park systems across the nation (www.AmericasStateParks.org). America’s State Parks invites you to enjoy free, guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2014 at local state parks.

According to Arkansas State Parks Director Greg Butts, “State parks around Arkansas will join America's 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 or friends." Butts noted that Arkansas’s state park system includes 142 trails totaling 390 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 of the parks, and you’ll enjoy shared experiences creating memories to last a lifetime.”

He continued, “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.” Arkansas State Parks trails range in length from short nature walks to overnight backpacking adventures. Trails lead through rugged, scenic terrain in Arkansas’s two mountain ranges, the Ozarks and the Ouachitas. Trails stretch along the shores of Arkansas’s lakes and into bottomlands teeming with wildlife. Hikers can trek along the banks of renowned rivers including wild and scenic streams. Trail enthusiasts can explore state historic sites and Arkansas’s diamond site. In addition to walking and hiking trails, the state park system includes biking, equestrian, river, and off highway vehicle trails. There are even trails to experience on the water. Barrier-free trails accommodate the needs of visitors with disabilities. Nationally-designated trails are among this wide variety of choices.

Arkansas State Parks First Day Hikes will be held at the following state parks:

• Bull Shoals-White River State Park (Bull Shoals)—Big Bluff Trail from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

• Cane Creek State Park (Star City)—Combination of the Delta View Trail, Timberland Trail, and Cane Creek Lake Trail from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (meet at Pavilion 1 for this six-mile hike along these three trails.) Delta View Trail from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area (Wickes)—Harris Creek Trail from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

• Crater of Diamond State Park (Murfreesboro)—Little Missouri River Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Crowley’s Ridge State Park (Paragould)—Dancing Rabbit Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center.

• Davidsonville Historic State Park (Pocahontas)—Trapper Lake Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center.

• DeGray Lake Resort State Park (Bismarck)—Shoreline Hike from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Delta Heritage Trail State Park (Barton)—Trail walk from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Later beginning at 1:30 p.m. there will be a Bike Tour on the trail that is expected to last approximately two hours ($10 fee for Bike Tour includes bike rental, if needed).

• Devil’s Den State Park (West Fork)—Devil’s Den Trail from 10 a.m. to noon (meet at the park visitor center). Yellow Rock Trail from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m..

• Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area (Rogers)—Shaddox Hollow Trail from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sinking Stream Trail from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

• Jacksonport State Park (Jacksonport)—Tunstall Riverwalk Trail from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. A “Mighty Hike” to explore wooded areas at the confluence of White and Black rivers from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (meet at the boat launch ramp parking lot).

• Lake Catherine State Park (Hot Springs)—Falls Branch Trail from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• Lake Charles State Park (Powhatan)—White Oak Trail from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Lake Chicot State Park (Lake Village)—Delta Woodlands Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (meet at the park visitor center). “Lakeside Hike” stroll along the lakeshore from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (meet behind campsite #127 in the park campground).

• Lake Dardanelle State Park (Russellville)—Meadowbrook Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the amphitheater.

• Lake Fort Smith State Park (Mountainburg)—Ozark Highlands Trail from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center.

• Lake Ouachita State Park (Mountain Pine)—Caddo Bend Trail. Hikes of three different lengths from one to four miles will be led by park staff and volunteers from the Ouachita Mountain Hikers. All hikes begin at 10 a.m. In addition, a New Year/New Start Campfire will be hosted by park staff from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Relax by the campfire and enjoy hot beverages and healthy treats.

• Lake Poinsett State Park (Harrisburg)—Great Blue Heron Trail from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• Logoly State Park (McNeil)—Crane’s Fly Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the park visitor center. [Call the park ahead of time to join this hike.]

• Millwood State Park (Ashdown)—Waterfowl Way Trail from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Mississippi River State Park (Marianna)—Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Trotting Fox Trail from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Moro Bay State Park (Jersey)—Deer Run Trail from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

• Mount Magazine State Park (Paris)—Hike to Arkansas’s highest point on the Signal Hill Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet in the lobby of The Lodge at Mount Magazine.

• Mount Nebo State Park (Dardanelle)—Summit Park Trail from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at park visitor center parking lot.

• Petit Jean State Park (Morrilton)—Cedar Falls Trail from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (meet at the CCC Room in Mather Lodge, the park’s mountain lodge). CCC Hike/Bike Trail for a “Petit Jean History Hike” from 11:15 a.m. to noon (meet at the visitor center parking lot). Bear Cave Hike from 1:30 p.m to 2:15 p.m. (meet at the Bear Cave parking lot). Rock House Cave Hike from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. (meet at the Rock House Cave parking lot).

• Pinnacle Mountain State Park (Roland)—East Summit Trail from 9 a.m. to noon (meet at the trailhead). Rocky Valley Trail from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (meet at the park visitor center for this hike that includes the Rocky Valley Trail and the East Quarry Trail.)

• Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park (Prairie Grove)—Here at one of America’s most intact Civil War battlefields, learn about the 1862 Battle of Prairie Grove. Take a self-guided walk along the one-mile Battlefield Trail or drive the five-mile Driving Tour. Both trails are well marked and have information panels along the way. [NOTE: These are self-guided trail experiences.]

• Queen Wilhelmina State Park (Mena)—Lover’s Leap Trail from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

• Village Creek State Park (Wynne)—Military Road Trail from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Meet at the Lake Austell boat ramp.

• Withrow Springs State Park (Huntsville)—War Eagle Trail from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at the Dogwood trailhead on Ark. 23.

• Woolly Hollow State Park (Greenbrier)—Huckleberry Trail. Choose from three separate hikes ranging from ½ mile to 3½ miles in length from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Details about these hikes and all other programs to be held in the state parks on January 1 are online at: www.ArkansasStateParks.com .

“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,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the NASPD.

“Getting outdoors and connecting to the natural world 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 mountaintops, walk alongside ponds and on beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. They can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, and 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 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: Kelly Farrell, chief of Interpretation and Program Services, Arkansas State Parks, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201; phone: 501-682-2187; Kelly.Farrell@Arkansas.gov. 

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