Start new year off on right (or left) foot

First Day Hikes encourages outdoor recreation at state parks

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Kick off the new year by getting outside and taking a hike.

Colorado State Parks and Wildlife will again participate in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative, with 26 state parks participating by hosting an organized hike Jan. 1. Each park offers an opportunity to enjoy the new year, with most parks offering guided hikes and some parks providing multiple options to choose from, allowing you to select the time and route you prefer.

“Each year, we’ve had a growing number of our parks offering First Day Hikes events as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into state parks,” said Bob Broscheid, Colorado State Parks director. “First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and celebrate the new year in our amazing state with a walk our hike in one of our beautiful state parks.”

Visitors to Colorado State Parks can expect to be surrounded by nature in winter, experience spectacular views and, in many parks, benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide on hikes ranging from half-mile fun walks to challenging five-mile hikes. In addition, most parks offer refreshments and giveaways provided by a Colorado Parks Foundation grant.

“Getting outside is the best way to bring in a new year and Colorado state parks showcase all the best things about the outdoors,” said Crystal Dreiling, park manager at Trinidad Lake State Park, one of the participating parks. “We are thrilled to have seen this event continue to grow since we started the program in 2012.”

The hikes are free but park visitors must possess a valid parks pass to participate. The daily pass for entry to most parks costs $7 per vehicle; annual passes are available for $70. All First Day Hikes vary in ability levels and length depending on location and weather conditions. Bring snacks and water, dress in layers and be prepared with traction and/or trekking poles for winter hiking in snow or on icy trails; if there is snow, consider bringing snowshoes.

First Day Hikes was created to offer everyone an opportunity to begin the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors at a state park close to home.

According to the National Association of State Park Directors, 1,300 First Day Hikes were offered in all 50 states in 2017, with 61,800 participants covering more than 111,850 miles.

First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago with the goal of promoting both healthy lifestyles through the year and year-round recreation at state parks. Getting outside and unplugging from daily technology creates a connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources in kids and adults alike.

Whether participating in a First Day Hike, reserving a spring campsite or scheduling hunter education courses, start your 2018 outdoor adventure at http://cpw.state.co.us/

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