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State Parks Encouraging Healthy Start To New Year With First Day Hike

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(KFSM) — Arkansas State Parks is encouraging people to start the new year off on the right foot with a healthy hike.

Several Arkansas State Parks are taking part in the nationwide First Day Hike events on Jan. 1, including Lake Fort Smith State Park in the River Valley and Devil’s Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas.

First Day Hike events are taking place in all 50 states and for the eighth year in a row in Arkansas.

Lake Fort Smith will hold a waterfall hike at 10 a.m. on a short portion of the Ozark Highlands Trail. The moderate hike is about 1.25 miles and starts at the Visitor Center.

The park will also hold a First Night Hike at 5 p.m. starting at the Visitor Center. The moderately easy hike covers about 1.25 miles, and hikers are asked to bring a flashlight and water and to dress warmly.

Devil’s Den State Park near Winslow will hold three hikes on Jan. 1, starting with the Devil’s Den Trail hike at 10 a.m. This moderate-to-strenuous hike will include views of waterfalls and crevices and is about 1.5 miles long. It will start at the Visitor Center.

The Yellow Rock Trial Adventure hike at 2 p.m. includes views from the Yellow Rock Overlook and will conclude with hot cocoa to warm up. This easy to moderate hikes begins at the Yellow Rock Trailhead near Camp Area A, and hikers can complete the entire trail on their own, if they wish.

Finally, Devil’s Den will wrap up its hikes with the short, easy Hiking Through the Legacy of the CCC trek, during which park interpreters will give the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built many of the structures in the park in the 1930s. That hike begins near the CCC Interpretive Trailhead near the Large Pavilion.

The Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area near Mena will also have a First Day Hike from 1-4 p.m. on the Harris Creek Trail. The hike will include Goat’s Bluff, which offers a scenic view high above the park. Hot chocolate and s’mores will be served afterward.

All hikes are free to the public.

“It’s fun to do a First Day Hike at a state park because while you walk, you make connections with others who are excited to be part of this nationwide event,” said Arkansas State Parks Chief of Interpretation and Program Services Kelly Farrell. “There is a growing, dedicated following of families who now treasure First Day Hikes as a tradition. We always swap stories about where we went in past years, and reminisce about the weather—maybe it was super cold or exceptionally lovely—either way made memories and enjoyed spending the first day of the year outdoors.”

Last year’s 48 hikes in 34 parks saw 279 hikers cover nearly 300 miles collectively.

Park rangers, interpreters and volunteers will share their knowledge of natural and cultural features along the hikes, and participants are encouraged to share their hikes on social media under the hashtags #FirstDayHikes and #ARstateparks.

Hikers are encouraged to dress in layers, wear rain gear if needed, wear appropriate footwear and carry food and water.

More information on First Day Hikes statewide is available here.

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