'First Day Hikes' Help Start Year on Healthy Foot While Highlighting State Resources

Dec 20, 2013

It’s a common New Year’s resolution – to get more exercise. In hopes of jump starting those efforts, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is sponsoring free, guided hikes in 19 state parks.

“This is actually part of a nation-wide effort to get people active outdoors,” said DCNR spokeswoman Chris Novak. “Here in Pennsylvania, it’s to remind people that our state parks and forests are open year-round, including winter, and can offer great activities including not only hiking, but ice fishing, sledding, all kinds of things in the winter.”

The hikes are led by either state park staff or volunteers, and will take place in the cold, but if there is inclement weather, hikers are advised to call and see if the hikes are still on. The “First Day Hikes” are becoming a yearly tradition.

“We’ve done it for the past couple of years now,” said Novak. “It’s occurring in all 50 states. We hosted approximately 785 people last year who, on the first day of the year, hiked more than 2,000 in the state of Pennsylvania.”

The hikes are usually about one or two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain. Participating parks include Jennings Environmental Education Center, Ohiopyle, Moraine, Pymatuning and Raccoon Creek. A complete list can be found online.