Celebrate the New Year with a hike in the Porkies

Courtesy:  Michigan DNR

LANSING — The Department of Natural Resources will sponsor free, guided hikes in Michigan state parks on New Year’s Day (plus additional hikes throughout the week) as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike Thursday, Jan. 1, at a nearby state park. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome a new year with friends and family.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson. “First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the new year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks.”

“Last year, we hosted nearly 28,000 people who hiked 68,811 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. Last year marked the first time all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles or longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website. Visit www.naspd.org to find a First Day Hike nearest you.

Michigan state parks are extending the celebration to a full week of healthy events to start off the new year on the right foot with “Shoe Year’s Hikes.” Events will be offered at the following locations:

  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County): Dec. 31, 6 p.m.
  • Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County): Jan. 1, 11 a.m.
  • Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), Jan. 1, 10 a.m.
  • Mitchell State Park (Wexford County): Jan. 2, 1 p.m.
  • Bay City State Recreation Area (Bay County): Jan. 3, 10:30 a.m.
  • Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County): Jan. 3, noon
  • Maybury State Park (Wayne County): Jan. 3, 10 a.m.
  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County): Jan. 3, 1 p.m.
  • Ludington State Park (Mason County): Jan. 3, 6 p.m.
  • Sterling State Park (Monroe County): Jan. 4, 1 p.m.

For details about Michigan’s Shoe Years Hikes, visit www.michigan.gov/gogetoutdoors.

America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

The mission of the National Association of State Park Directors and America’s State Parks is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.

A Recreation Passport is required for any motor vehicle entering a Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.