First Day Hike events will be held on New Year’s Day at 21 of Kansas’ state parks, providing the perfect opportunity to walk off some of those holiday calories, enjoy nature, and welcome in the New Year with family and friends. If you need more convincing, free First Day Hike t-shirts will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said Linda Lanterman, Parks division director for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “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.”
All states, including Kansas, began offering First Day Hikes in 2012 after originating in Massachusetts more than 25 years ago. Last year in the U.S., more than 75,000 people participated in 1,300 guided hikes that covered more than 150,000 miles.
First Day Hikes are generally one to two miles of exercise and led by knowledgeable park staff who offer an educational experience, as well. Native prairies, rugged woodlands and scenic lake shores may be some of the family-friendly terrain hikers will encounter. Odds are you will see wildlife – perhaps even bald eagles – so be sure to bring binoculars.
After the hike, many state parks will offer refreshments and snacks in the park office, but hikers are encouraged to bring their own water and snacks to enjoy during the outing. Leashed pets are also welcome.
While the guided hikes are free, participants will need a vehicle permit to drive into the park. Daily vehicle permits are available for $5 at self-serve stations located in each park. Some park offices will be open to sell daily vehicle permits as well as $25 annual passes for those looking to make hiking at Kansas state parks a habit.
Consider attending a First Day Hike near you. More information, including news if hikes are cancelled due to weather, may be found on select state park Facebook pages.
- Cedar Bluff State Park – Meet at the park office at 10 a.m. to hike the 1.25-mile moderate terrain Bluffton Trail, open to hikers of all ages.
- Cheney State Park – Meet at the park office at 2 p.m. for the 1.5-mile West Side Nature Trail hike; easy to moderate terrain. All ages welcome.
- Clinton State Park – Meet at the entrance of Campground #3 at 10 a.m. to hike on the X-Country Ski Trail. The 1-mile route is through easy terrain; all ages welcome.
- Crawford State Park – Meet at the beach shelter house at 10 a.m. to hike the 2-mile Deer Run Nature Trail, which includes easy to moderate terrain suited for all ages.
- El Dorado State Park – Meet at the Walnut River Cabins at 1 p.m. for a 2-mile Walnut River Trail hike. The easy to moderate terrain is perfect for hikers of all ages.
- Elk City State Park – Meet at 11 a.m. at the Overlook trailhead for a 1-mile hike on the Table Mound Hiking Trail. The trail’s moderate terrain is open to hikers of all ages.
- Fall River State Park – Meet at the Fall River maintenance shop at 2 p.m. to hike the three-quarter-mile Post Oak Trail. The moderate terrain is ideal for hikers of all ages.
- Flint Hills Trail State Park – Meet at the old depot in Ottawa at 2 p.m. to hike 2 miles of easy terrain perfect for all ages.
- Green Recreational Trail in Pratt – Meet at 1 p.m. at the KDWPT barn/shop to hike 1 mile of easy to moderate terrain, open for all ages to enjoy.
- Hillsdale State Park – Meet at the park office at 10:30 a.m. to hike on the Hidden Springs Nature Trail. The 1.5 miles of easy terrain is recommended for hikers age six and up.
- Historic Lake Scott State Park – Meet at the trail head at 10 a.m. to hike the Historic Lake Scott Multi-Use Trail. The moderate terrain hike is 1 to 2 miles long and is open to all ages.
- Kanopolis State Park – Meet at the park office at 10 a.m. to hike the Split Boulder Trail. The 1.6-mile trail can be navigated by hikers of all ages.
- Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park – Meet at the park office at noon for one of two hikes: Life on the Rocks Trail hike or the Little Jerusalem Badlands Off Trail hike. The Life of the Rocks Trail is 1 to 2 miles over easy terrain, while the Little Jerusalem Badlands Off Trail is a 1-mile hike through advanced terrain. Both hikes are open to all ages.
- Meade State Park – Meet at the park office at 3 p.m. for the Eagle Trail hike. All ages are welcome for the 2.5-mile trail of easy terrain.
- Milford State Park – Meet at the Crystal Trail parking lot near the Walnut Grove Campground at 1 p.m. to hike on the Crystal Trail. The 2.18-mile trail includes moderate terrain and is open to hikers of all ages.
- Perry State Park – Meet at the day use area in the Wild Horse Campground at 10 a.m. to hike the 1.5-mile Jack-O-Lope Trail. The easy terrain is ideal for all ages.
- Pomona State Park – Meet at the park office at 1 p.m. for a 2-mile hike around several campgrounds. Hikers of all ages are welcome to enjoy the easy terrain.
- Prairie Dog (Norton) State Park – Meet at the Nature Trail parking lot at 8 a.m. for a 1.4-mile hike over moderate terrain open to all ages.
- Sand Hills State Park – Meet at the park office/cabin at 10 a.m. to hike the 1-mile Dune and Prairie trails, which include easy to moderate terrain. All ages welcome.
- Tuttle Creek State Park – Meet at the park office at 10:30 a.m. to hike the Western Heritage Trail. This hike is open to hikers of all ages and includes easy terrain covering 1 to 3 miles.
- Wilson State Park – Meet at the Cedar Trail parking lot at 1 p.m. to hike 1 mile over easy terrain. All ages welcome.
To learn more about what Kansas state parks can offer you, visit ksoutdoors.com/State-Parks.