|Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit near Hartford Wisconsin.|
MADISON -- Anyone looking to start their New Year's resolution for better health can start the year off on the right foot by participating in any of 10 First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park properties on January 1.
On a First Day Hike, visitors can enjoy walks through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park rangers or volunteers. Most hikes include additional activities such as campfires, naturalist guides, wildlife tracking, and hot beverages after the hike.
All 50 states are participating in the fifth annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.
On Jan. 1, 2015, 507 participants hiked 1,191 miles at 10 different Wisconsin state park properties, up from the 190 participants who hiked a total of 605.7 miles in 2014. Nationwide, 41,000 people rang in the New Year with a First Day Hike at a state park, participating in more than 990 hikes throughout the country, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.
In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:
- Newport State Park. This will be an easy 2-mile hike. Meet at the visitor center parking lot. Bring snowshoes or hiking boots, depending on the weather. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10-11:30 a.m. Phone: 920-854-2500.
- Peninsula State Park. This will be an easy guided 1- to 3-mile hike on the Sunset Trail. Co-sponsored by Friends of Peninsula State Park. Meet at the Weborg Shelter. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10 a.m. to noon. Phone: 920-868-3258.
- Harrington Beach State Park. Celebrate the First Day of 2016 with an easy 1.5-mile hike on either the Quarry Lake or Shuttle Trail. The Friends of Harrington Beach will provide a warm fire in the Welcome Center along with complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider or coffee. Bring your lunch and kick off the New Year at Harrington Beach. This event is sponsored by Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-285-3015.
- Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit. The Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance will be hosting a First Day Hike at Lapham Peak. Vehicle admission fees will be waived for the day. Enjoy a moderately difficult hike then warm up with hot beverages and snacks at the Nature Center afterwards. Hike 3 to 4 miles on the Ice Age Trail. Meet at the Hausman Nature Center parking lot. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-646-3025.
- Mirror Lake State Park. Bring your snowshoes or winter boots for some fun winter hiking around the park. Your trail guide will show you some of the beautiful highlights of Mirror Lake and a little about our history. Our adventure starts off at noon from the Winter Rec. Area (aka Beach-Picnic area). This will be a 2-mile hike on the Sandstone Trail. Leashed pets are welcome on this hike. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. Noon to 1:30 p.m. Phone: 608-254-2333.
- Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit. This hike offers two separate options with two separate leaders. One hike offers 2 miles and the other offers a more strenuous 4 miles, both on the Ice Age Trail. Both hikes start together and break off at a half-way point. Leashed dogs are welcome on this hike. Meet at the Beach Parking Area by the North Shelter at noon. Dress for the weather and bring hiking boots or snowshoes. Vehicle parking fees do not apply on the first day of 2016 at Pike Lake. Noon to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-670-3400.
- Richard Bong State Recreation Area. This will be an easy 2-mile hike on Rhodes Road. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Visitor Center. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 1-2 p.m. Phone: 262-878-5601.
- Buckhorn State Park. This will be an easy 1.5-mile hike on the Barrens Nature Trail. Meet at the Barrens Nature Trail parking lot. Hot chocolate, coffee and treats will be available at the park office to warm up after the hike. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 2-4 p.m. Phone: 608-565-2789.
- Devil's Lake State Park. This year at Devil's Lake, we are going to take a 2.5-mile twilight hike/snowshoe through Steinke Basin. Dress warm and bring a flashlight and your snowshoes (if we have snow). We'll have snowshoes to loan as well. Meet at the Steinke Basin parking lot on Hwy DL. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 3:30-5 p.m. Phone: 608-356-8301.
- Stower Seven Lakes Trail Choose your own distance from 1 to 23 miles. An easy hike, ski or fat bike. A 2016 State Trail Pass is required to bike or cross-country ski. Passes will be available and are valid for calendar year 2016 on all Wisconsin State Trails throughout the State. Hot chocolate furnished by Brothers Country Mart. Meet at the trail parking lot in Nye. Sponsored by the Friends of Stower Seven Lakes State Trail and Brothers Country Mart. a0 a.m. to noon. Phone: 715-485-9294.
For helpful cold weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society's website atwww.americanhiking.org (both links exit DNR). For a complete listing of all State Park events, including First Day Hikes, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "get outdoors." For a listing of properties, search "find a park."
All participants are encouraged to log their First Day Hike adventures on social media with the hash tag "#firstdayhikes."