Step off on the Right Foot on a First Day Hike at a Pennsylvania State Park
By: Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources
December 21, 2016
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Stay healthy, reduce stress, spend more time with family? We can help with all these things starting January 1 on a First Day Hike. Held in 28 Pennsylvania state parks, the guided hikes are free, and are part of a national effort to promote both healthy lifestyles and get people outdoors for year-round recreation at state parks.
An invigorating walk or hike in a beautiful state park helps burn off holiday calories, cure cabin fever and spend time together with friends and family.
State involvement has grown to the point where all 50 states sponsor First Day Hikes. Pennsylvanians are fortunate to have a state park within 25 miles, as well as 2.2 million acres of state forest land that they can explore. In addition to improving our quality of life and giving us places to play outdoors, state parks and the visitors they draw contribute close to a billion dollars in economic activity in nearby communities each year.
The following Pennsylvania state parks are participating during daylight hours January 1, 2017:
- Canoe Creek
- Cowans Gap
- Delaware Canal
- French Creek
- Greenwood Furnace
- Gifford Pinchot
- Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
- Jennings Environmental Education Center
- Kings Gap Environmental Education Center
- Little Buffalo
- Lyman Run
- Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center
- Parker Dam
- Pine Grove Furnace
- Prince Gallitzin
- R.B. Winter
Presque Isle State Park in Erie will offer a New Year’s Eve or “Last Night” hike for those who wish to ring in the new year while hiking. This 3-mile easy hike begins at 11 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, and will end around 1 a.m. Friday, Jan. 1. Also, Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County is offer an evening hike Dec. 31 that will focus on owls in the park.
Most of the hikes are about one or two miles, but some can be longer depending on the park and its terrain. The treks are guided by state park staff or volunteers. For a complete list of hikes and times check the DCNR Calendar of Events.
Last year in Pennsylvania, participants hiked more than 3,000 miles on the first day of the year.
If you’d rather hit the trail on your own, somewhere closer to home, Pennsylvania has more than 5,800 local parks. This online map lets you search for one by county, name or location.
The ‘welcome mat’ is out at our state and local parks and trails. I’ll be bundling up and heading to the First Day Hike at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Cumberland County. Join me!
Hikers are invited to share their experience on social media using #FirstDayHike and #GetOutdoorsPA.
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