On New Year’s Day, pull on your mittens and boots for a “First Day” hike at one of the 27 state parks, of which three are within 30 miles.
Hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter and experience spectacular views, beautiful settings and the cultural treasures offered by Iowa’s state parks.
“We are excited to host First Day Hikes again as part of this effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa DNR’s State Parks Bureau. “These hikes are a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.”
In past years, more than 1,200 people began the year in an Iowa state park, hiking more than 1,100 total miles.
Staff and volunteers will lead free, guided First Day Hikes in Iowa’s 27 participating state parks. Some hikes will include wildlife viewing and hot beverages.
• To hike at Bellevue State Park, meet at the Dyas Unit Campground at 10 a.m., in appropriate attire with a drink to keep warm. The approximately-two-mile hike will take the park’s single service trail, built in 2015, and could include slick terrain.
• At Maquoketa Caves State Park, participants should meet at the stone shelter at 10970 98th St., Maquoketa at 1 p.m., prepared for a two-mile, moderate hike, with an easy guided hike potentially available as well.
Friends of Maquoketa Caves will provide hot drinks and bars. For closure information or additional information, see the Friends of Maquoketa Caves State Park Facebook page or call (563) 219-4512.
• At Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, hikers should meet at 1 p.m. at EB Lyons Interpretive Center, 8991 Bellevue Heights Rd., Dubuque for a two-mile hike on America’s State Tree Woodland Walk. For cancellation information, call (563) 556-0620. For more info, see the sponsoring Friends of Mines of Spain Facebook page for details.
To see a comprehensive national map of First Day Hikes, visit www.stateparks.org
Participants can share their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes or #iowastateparks.
For cancellation information, check www.iowadnr.gov/parks and click on “closure information” or call (563) 690-8992.