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State Parks Visitors Brave Arctic Air on First Day Hikes
Indiana Ag Connection - 01/10/2018

Brutal temperatures couldn't deter the more than 1,000 people who participated in a guided First Day Hike at an Indiana State Park property on Jan. 1. Combined, those 1,033 hikers trekked 1,158 miles.

The average high across Indiana that day was 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to Angie Manuel, chief of interpretation for DNR Division of State Parks.

"If I didn't already know that Indiana State Parks had some of the most dedicated visitors, I sure knew it when 50 hikers joined me for a minus 7 degree prairie walk at Prophetstown State Park," Manuel said.

First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start the year and a chance to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and connect with friends. The hikes are hosted each year by staff and volunteers at Indiana's 32 state park properties and are part of a nationwide program promoted by America's State Parks.

Hikes ranged in length from a half-mile to 4 miles. The types of hikes varied, too. Charlestown State Park hosted a night hike for viewing the "supermoon," and hikers at O'Bannon Woods State Park walked with one of the property's resident oxen.

Monroe Lake welcomed the most participants, with 196 people attending an event offering 3.7- and 1.3-mile run/walks.

Across the country, almost 32,000 visitors to state parks hiked a combined 70,200 miles.

"The First Day Hikes are a way park rangers, naturalists and volunteers can get people outside to connect with nature and history while beginning new, healthy lifestyles," said Ellen Graham, First Day Hikes coordinator and chief naturalist, Georgia State Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites.

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation state park in Milton, Mass.

America's State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children.

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