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Arkansas State Parks Celebrate the New Year with First Day Hikes

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Meg Matthews                                                                                                                                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12/22/16

Public Information Coordinator

Arkansas State Parks

(501) 682-2873


Arkansas State Parks Celebrate the New Year with First Day Hikes

Visitors Encouraged to Connect with the Outdoors on January 1st


Little Rock, AR: Ring in the New Year with a First Day Hike at an Arkansas State Park. Free, guided hikes will be offered on January 1st at 33 parks throughout the state.  Arkansas State Parks are doing this in conjunction with a national First Day Hike initiative sponsored by the National Association of State Park Directors.   

 “America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to explore the beauty and serenity of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while discovering beautiful public lands in every state.”

This idea was hatched more than 25 years ago at a Massachusetts state park.  Since then, it’s grown to a nation-wide effort that attracts tens of thousands of participants. In 2016, 694 hikers covered 1123 miles while taking a First Day Hike in an Arkansas State Park

 “We are hoping to motivate even more Arkansans to get outdoors and into our parks on January 1, 2017,” said Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann.  “First Day Hikes offer a great way to exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.”

A wide variety of First Day Hikes will allow visitors to choose the best one for them. These include:

  • A one mile hike on Lover’s Leap Trail at Queen Wilhelmina State Park


  • A 1/3 mile hike under towering pines on the Spring Branch Trail at White Oak Lake State Park


  • A .45 mile hike on Ponder Trail at Crowley’s Ridge State Park. This paved trail is ADA and stroller accessible.


  • A 1.75 mile hike on the Big Bluff Trail at Bull-Shoals-White River State park. This trail is moderately strenuous and the hike will take about two hours.

 “First Day Hikes give visitors an opportunity to put those good intentions of New Year’s resolutions right into action.” Arkansas State Parks Chief of Program Services Kelly Farrell said. “Whether visitors join one of our scheduled guided hikes, or take a self-guided trek on our 400+ miles of trails, we are confident they will enjoy being part of a nationwide celebration and become inspired to make visiting state parks a year-round habit.”

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the trail. Visit or to find a First Day Hike nearest you and get details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing.

About Arkansas State Parks: Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,353 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark and 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

The state parks have 1,771 camp sites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, four lodges, eight restaurants, 10 marinas and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.

Established in 1927, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation.