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First Day Hikes See Record Participation Nationwide

A First Day Hike at Patapsco Valley state Park

A First Day Hike at Patapsco Valley State Park in Md.

The Maryland Park Service hosts 25 hikes and nearly 900 participants

From Hawaii to Texas to Maine, a record-breaking 27,861 people from across the nation kicked off the New Year with First Day Hikes January 1. All 50 states joined in on the fun, offering special hikes and activities to encourage their citizens to get outside and enjoy the sights, sounds and wonders of nature.

“Families across the nation welcomed the New Year with America’s State Parks by hiking in some of our nation’s most beautiful public lands,” said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors.

First Day Hikes contributed to 885 special hikes nationwide, with nearly 28,000 participants logging a total of 66,811 miles. The annual event, sponsored by America’s State Parks, highlights the value of state parks in providing year round recreation, connecting Americans to the great outdoors and promoting healthy lifestyles. This year’s participation was significantly higher than last year’s record turnout of 22,000.

In Maryland, the Park Service sponsored 25 hikes, which hosted 892 participants who hiked 1,820 miles. Among the events, guests journeyed through Cunningham Falls, the longest cascading waterfall in Maryland, and trekked to the historic Turkey Point Lighthouse at Elk Neck State Park. Click here for photos.

Gregory Miller, President of American Hiking Society, which encouraged its national membership to take part in First Day Hikes said, “We are excited that so many people are making First Day Hikes an annual tradition to start the year off on the right foot by getting outside and taking advantage of the scenic and family-friendly trails found in state parks.”

From guided history tours to fireside demonstrations, each park had something different to offer. In Utah, hikers saw shooting stars at the sunrise hike in Snow Canyon State Park, while participants at Antelope Island State Park witnessed a herd of bison. Despite frigid temperatures and gusty winds, around 100 participants turned out for the hike in Delta Junction, Alaska. Arkansas hosted several hikes, including one at Lake Ouachita where visitors were treated to a campfire and healthy snacks. Virginia State Parks sponsored hikes at all 36 of their state parks, and offered self-guided hiking opportunities for families.

Several states created videos to capture the day’s memories, including Hawaii, New Hampshire and Maryland, which can be viewed by clicking the associated links. To view photos and read more about individual adventures, check out #firstdayhikes on social media.

First Day Hikes ─ which originated more than 20 years ago at Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts ─ was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles and year-round recreation.

The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more.  With more than 7,000 park areas and visitation that exceeds 720 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year.

America’s State Parks, an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states, is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Encouraging kids to get outside and unplug from electronics creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and promotes creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.