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Celebrate the New Year with a First Day Hike

The First Day Hikes initiative offers individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on Jan. 1, 2014. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. The hikes themselves are free but park visitors must have either a daily parks pass or a valid annual pass.

"Getting outdoors is a great way to start the year off right - whether you're burning off holiday calories or resolving to be more active," said Bob Broscheid, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "These hikes are perfect for the Colorado lifestyle and we are excited to again be part of the national First Day Hike initiative."

State parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. 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.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. Since that time, "America's State Parks" and the National Association of State Parks Directors have helped grow the program to all 50 states.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes. All Colorado state parks recommend that First Day Hike participants bring water, sun protection and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions. Other recommended items, depending on the weather conditions and terrain, include snow shoes, strap-on ice cleats, snacks, trekking poles, cameras, binoculars and wildlife guide books.

In Colorado, hikes will be offered on January 1 at the following locations and times:

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
9:30 a.m.
Meet at the Midland Railroad Grade parking area 1.5 miles north of the Collegiate Peaks Overlook Area east of Johnson Village. Join Volunteer Naturalist Bob Hickey on a short, morning hike in the scenic northern Fourmile Recreation Area. There will be fantastic views of the snowy Upper Arkansas Valley and the Sawatch Mountain Range. Bring a picnic lunch. RSVP by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30 by calling 719-539-7289.

Barr Lake State Park
11 a.m.
Meet at Nature Center for an easy three-mile hike with lots of bird watching including bald eagles. Dogs on leash are welcome.

Boyd Lake State Park
9 a.m.
Meet at the park office for a short, one-hour hike around the park. See some wildlife and get some information about the park from a ranger. RSVP at 970-669-1739.

Castlewood Canyon State Park
11 a.m.
Meet at Falls Parking Lot for a moderate three-mile hike to see the historic dam at Castlewood Canyon and other scenic natural features with the park's volunteer naturalist. Hikers should bring snacks and/or lunch for hike that will conclude early afternoon. Dogs on leash are okay.

Chatfield State Park, two hikes offered
10 a.m.
Meet at the Gravel Ponds Parking Lot for a Winter Wonderland Hike along the South Platte River. There's plenty of wildlife and native and migratory birds to be seen. This is a two-hour, two to three mile hike.

Meet at the Platte River Parking Lot for a hike exploring the Wildlife and Heron Viewing areas along Chatfield Reservoir as well as learn about the history of Chatfield State Park. This 2.5 mile hike goes north from the Platte River Parking lot along a paved trail to the Heron Viewing area, where a superb view and photo opportunity of the foothills, lake, dam, and historical Slocum Cabin is available.

Cherry Creek State Park
11 a.m.
Meet at the Campground Registration Building for an easy two-mile hike with wildlife viewing opportunities and free hot cider at the end. The hike is not recommended for children under age five. No dogs allowed.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at the Day Use Trailhead Parking Lot for a choice of two 10 a.m. hikes. One will be a one mile trek on the Zook Loop. If you're feeling more adventurous, try the 3.3 mile hike on Sundance Trail.

Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 a.m.
Meet at the lower lot near the restrooms for a guided hike with the Park Manager up the road and out the Eldorado Canyon Trail. A special "warm surprise" will be in store at the Visitor Center after hiking up the Eldorado Canyon Trail. This is also a chance to get a tour of the flood damaged picnic area at Eldorado Canyon.

Eleven Mile State Park
2 p.m.
Meet Park Naturalist Beth Dodd at the Coyote Ridge Parking Lot Trailhead for a one to two hour hike that will feature information about the survival challenges faced by the plants and animals of Eleven Mile during the cold season. Explore the winter woods and the shores of the frozen lake. Weather and snow conditions permitting, we will hike a mile along the Ponderosa Loop. Bring warm boots, gloves or mittens, and head gear as desired. Water or a thermos of warm liquid would also be beneficial.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at the Visitor Center for a two to three hour hike along the Beaver Trail. This is a strenuous hike, especially if there is snow. Join Dr. John Moyer who will discuss the history and wildlife of the area as well as taking participants for a breathtaking view of the Continental Divide. The hike will wrap up with hot chocolate, cider and cookies at the Visitor Center. Due to the difficulty and length of this hike, it is not recommended for children under the age of 12. Children in backpack carriers are permitted. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a 6 leash, as always.
For more information, call 303-582-3707.

Lake Pueblo State Park
11 am
Meet at the Cottonwood Picnic Area as our partners from the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo help lead an interactive and fun three-mile hike that features animal specimens, geocaching, live birds of prey, and more. Participants may choose to walk the full three miles to the Nature and Raptor Center or complete a shorter family hiking loop that includes a scavenger hunt.

Lory State Park
11 a.m.
Meet at the Arthur's Rock Trail Head for a guided hike or a guided First Day run. REI Fort Collins is providing snowshoes and poles for up to 30 people for this incredible First Day Hike at Lory State Park. Whether you choose the hike or the run option, finish up at the Visitor Center for hot drinks and cookies.

Mueller State Park, three hikes offered
10 a.m.
Meet volunteer naturalists Joe and Felicia Mendygral at the School Pond Parking Lot for a two-mile nature hike on the Stoner Mill Trail. See some wildlife and look for tracks, scat and scratch marks that show the animals that use the area.

11 a.m.
Meet at the Peak View Trail Head for a two-mile, moderate hike with wildlife viewing opportunities and a chance to learn about the wide variety of trees along the trail.

Meet volunteer naturalist Char Barnes at the Outlook Ridge Trail Head for a hike that will feature winter photography tips. See the vistas of Pikes Peak and other 14ers.

Ridgway State Park, two hikes offered
9:30 a.m.
Meet at the Dutch Charlie Visitor Center for a one-mile or three-mile hike along the Forest Discovery Nature Trail. You'll get spectacular views of Ridgway Reservoir and Mt. Sneffels.

1:30 p.m.
Meet at the Dallas Creek Confluence Restrooms for a guided hike and a chance to see a rarely visited area of the park. Walk along the Uncompahgre River and Dallas Creek and capture views of Mt. Sneffels and scenic rock formations.

Roxborough State Park, three hikes offered
9 a.m.
Join Naturalist, Paul Bleau for a guided 6.4-mile (roundtrip) hike to Carpenter Peak at 7175, the highest point on the Park. Enjoy a panoramic view of the greater Denver area while eating lunch on the peak. Bring water, food, and clothing appro [truncated for length]
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