HARRISBURG – Eighteen of Pennsylvania’s state parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day to help visitors ring in 2013 with healthy exercise and a glimpse of nature’s winter beauty.
First Day Hikes have been taking place for 20 years as part of a national effort organized by the National Association of State Park Directors and launched in Newton, Mass. State involvement has grown to the point where, for the first time in 2012, all 50 state park systems are participating.
“We are excited to join in hosting these hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said. “For the second consecutive year, First Day Hikes offer a great cure for cabin fever and a chance to burn off those extra holiday calories.”
The following Pennsylvania state parks are participating in 2013:
Bald Eagle, Black Moshannon, Leonard Harrison , Kinzua Bridge, Ohiopyle, Moraine, Raccoon Creek, Pymatuning, Keystone, Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Canoe Creek, Lackawanna, Promised Land, Nescopeck, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, Marsh Creek, French Creek and Delaware Canal.
“The hikes were selected to draw both novices and trail-hardened veterans into our state parks,” Allan said. “Different hikes will match different abilities.”
Pennsylvania State Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which are usually less than two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain. Details about hike locations, difficulty, length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website at www.americasstateparks.org.
“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.
“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 over 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,” Geigis said.
Additional details can be found at www.dcnr.state.pa.us; click on State Parks under “Quick Links,” then select “Featured Events.” For information on Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks, click on “Find a Park.”