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Celebrate New Year with a First Day Hike on Jan. 1
Indiana Ag Connection - 12/05/2017

Usher in 2018 with other outdoor lovers at one of the many First Day Hikes offered Jan. 1 at Indiana's state parks.

First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start 2018 and a chance to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and connect with friends.

DNR's Division of State Parks is hosting 32 First Day events throughout the state.

Information on First Day events in Indiana is at StateParks.IN.gov/2420.htm.

The guided hikes are organized by Indiana State Parks in cooperation with America's State Parks. Hikes will take place in all 50 states.

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to foster healthy lifestyles and promote year-round recreation at state parks.

For more information, visit America's State Parks website (stateparks.org) or Facebook page (facebook.com/Americas-State-Parks-205324976548604).

First Day events at Indiana State Park properties are (all times are local):

- Brookville Lake, Mounds State Recreation Area, 4 to 4:45 p.m.: Meet at the Campground Shelter across from Wildlife Wander Trail for a 0.7-mile hike. Along the way, a naturalist will explain what life is like for animals during winter. The trail is rated easy. Hot cocoa will be served around a campfire afterward.

- Brown County State Park, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Meet at the Abe Martin Lodge for a hike around the original state park property, including a walk across the covered bridge. Learn about those early years, then stick around for refreshments and a slideshow with historic pictures of the park.

- Chain O'Lakes State Park, 2 to 4 p.m.: Meet the park's naturalists at the Sand Lake beach/nature center for an easy 90-minute, 1.3-mile hike around the lake. Hot cocoa and snacks will be available afterward.

- Charlestown State Park, 8 to 10 p.m.: A full-moon hike will begin at the Trail 1 parking lot. The hike will last two hours and is rated as rugged. Wear good shoes and bring a hiking stick and a red flashlight.

- Clifty Falls State Park, 11 a.m. to noon: Join the naturalist at Clifty Shelter to view scenic vistas, stunning waterfalls and unique rock features on this moderately rugged hike. Refreshments will be provided.

- Falls of the Ohio State Park, 1 to 2:30 p.m.: Hike along the upper fossil beds and learn about Devonian-age sea life as well as the plants and animals that now live along the river's edge. Bring binoculars to look for winter birds. The interpretive center will open a few minutes before and after the hike for access to restrooms and water fountains, otherwise it is closed on Jan. 1. The hike will be canceled in case of inclement weather. A $2 pay-to-park fee applies, but the hike is free.

- Fort Harrison State Park, 1 p.m.: Meet at the Delaware Lake parking area for a hike on Harrison Trace. The paved loop is approximately 1 to 1.25 miles long. The hike should take about 45 minutes. Light refreshments will be provided by Friends of the Fort group.

- Hardy Lake, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Meet at the property office for an "Owl Hoot Hike" to discover "whoooo's in the woods."

- Harmonie State Park, 10 a.m.: Meet at the pool parking lot for a 2-mile, 45-minute hike on a paved trail. Strollers are welcome. Join others afterward for hot cocoa, cookies and conversations.

- Indiana Dunes State Park, 10 to 11 a.m.: Meet at the nature center for a special 3-Dune Challenge covering 1.5-miles. At the end, park volunteers will welcome hikers with snacks and a fire provided by the Friends of the Indiana Dunes group.

- Lieber State Recreation Area, 10 a.m.: Meet at the Hilltop Shelter for a 2-mile hike expected to last about 90 minutes.

- Lincoln State Park, 1 p.m.: Meet at the nature center for a 2-mile hike through Sarah Lincoln Woods Nature Preserve. The hike should last about an hour and visitors should expect hills and somewhat rough terrain.

- McCormick's Creek State Park, 2 p.m.: Meet at Canyon Inn for a Canyon Hike and Photo Contest. The roughly 3/4-mile hike is easy to moderate. Hikers can bring cameras or smart phones to snap photos for an optional contest. Refreshments will be available at the end of the hike.

- Mississinewa Lake, 5 p.m.: Meet at Miami State Recreation Area's Bostwick Pond for a 1-mile hike that will last about 30 minutes. S'mores and a fire will be available after the hike.

- Monroe Lake, Fairfax State Recreation Area: Monroe Lake will host the fifth annual First Day Trail Run/Walk. Registration/check-in runs from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. at Bay View Shelter. The run/walk starts at 3:30 p.m. The event is untimed. Participants can choose from a 1.3- or 3.7-mile course. Registering in advance costs $15. The advance registration deadline is Dec. 30.

Those who register online in advance will have access to a post-event appetizer buffet at the Fourwinds Lakeside Inn. The first 300 people to register in advance will receive a commemorative patch and a $15 gift certificate for the restaurants at the Fourwinds Lakeside Inn.

Same-day registration is also $15. More information and online registration is at bit.ly/firstdaytrail2018.

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