State park properties offer First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day


Usher in 2019 with other outdoor lovers at one of the many First Day Hikes offered Jan. 1 at Indiana’s state parks.

First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start 2019 and a chance to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and connect with friends.

Information on First Day events in Indiana is

The guided hikes are organized by Indiana State Parks in cooperation with America’s State Parks. Hikes will take place in all 50 states.

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

For more information, visit America’s State Parks website ( or

First Day events at Indiana State Park properties are (all times are local):

—Brookville Lake, Mounds State Recreation Area, 4 to 4:45 p.m.: Meet at the Campground Shelter across from Wildlife Wander Trail for a 0.7-mile hike. Along the way, a naturalist will explain what life is like for animals during winter. The trail is rated easy. Hot cocoa will be served around a campfire afterward.

—Brown County State Park, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Meet at Abe Martin Lodge for a hike around the original state park property, including a walk across the covered bridge. Learn about those early years, then stick around for refreshments and a slideshow with historic pictures.

—Chain O’Lakes State Park, 2 to 4 p.m.: Meet the park’s naturalists at the boat rental parking lot for hike around the winter landscape. Two lengths of hikes are available. Hot cocoa and snacks will be served afterward.

—Charlestown State Park, 10 a.m. to Noon: Meet at the Ohio River overlook for a rugged hike on Trail 6. Enjoy great views of the Ohio River on this 2.3-mile hike.

—Clifty Falls State Park, 7 to 7:30 p.m.: Meet at the Clifty Falls State Park Nature Center to enjoy a winter night under the stars hike. It will be a half-mile, 30-minute hike to the observation tower on Trail 1 that will be lit with luminaries. This will be a moderate hike. Discover the night sky and learn about the animals that roam Clifty Falls in the dark. After the hike cookies and hot cocoa will be served at the inn.

—Fort Harrison State Park, 1 to 2 p.m.: Meet at the Delaware Lake parking area for a hike on Harrison Trace. The paved loop is 2.25 miles long. Hot cocoa will be provided by Friends of the Fort group.

—Hardy Lake, 10 a.m.: Meet at the main trailhead for a winter basic birding intro hike. Bring binoculars if you have them.

—Indiana Dunes State Park, 10 to 11 a.m.: Meet at the nature center for a special 3-Dune Challenge covering 1.5-miles. At the end, park volunteers will welcome hikers with snacks and a fire provided by the Friends of the Indiana Dunes group. —Lieber State Recreation Area, 10 a.m.: Meet at the Hilltop Shelter for a 2-mile hike expected to last about 90 minutes.

—Lincoln State Park, 1 p.m.: Meet at the nature center for a hike to the Lincoln State Park fire tower. The trail has been improved greatly, and hikers can climb to the top of the tower if they want. Be prepared for a bit of a wait. Not everyone will be able to climb the tower at once.

—McCormick’s Creek State Park, 2 p.m.: Meet at Canyon Inn for a Canyon Hike and photo contest. The hike will be on Trail 3 to the falls. Hikers can bring cameras or smartphones to snap photos for an optional contest. Refreshments will be available at the end of the hike.

—Mississinewa Lake, 5 p.m.: Meet at Miami State Recreation Area’s Bostwick Pond for a 1-mile hike that will last about 30 minutes. S’mores and a fire will be available after the hike. Advance registration is requested by calling 260-468-2127.

—Monroe Lake, Fairfax State Recreation Area: Monroe Lake will host the sixth annual First Day Trail Run/Walk. Registration/check-in runs from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. at Bay View Shelter. The run/walk starts at 3:30 p.m. The event is untimed. Participants can choose from a 1.3- or 3.7-mile course. Registering in advance costs $15 and includes a post-hike buffet. The advance registration deadline is Dec. 30.

—Mounds State Park, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Join the naturalist on an illuminated hike to the mounds. The hike will begin at the nature center and may involve rugged terrain and stairs.

—O’Bannon Woods State Park, 10 a.m. to noon: Meet at the nature center to walk with the park’s oxen, Forest and Gump, and its donkeys, Garth and Gracie. The walk will be on a roadway for about 1 mile. Enjoy refreshments upon return to the nature center. The event is contingent on weather and road conditions.

—Ouabache State Park, 3 p.m. The hike will start and end at the bison enclosure parking lot.  Hike will be on Trail 1, around the bison enclosure, with a stop at the feeding station where guests will be able to observe American bison up-close. It’s an easy trail with a gravel surface, but there are a few wet areas—boots or tennis shoes are recommended. Pets must be leashed.

—Patoka Lake, 1 to 2 p.m.: Meet at the nature center for a 3/4-mile hike on the scenic Garden Rock Loop Trail.

—Pokagon State Park, 2 to 2:30 p.m.: Meet at the nature center for an easy stroll to look at the winter landscape. The event will end with a bonfire and hot cocoa.

—Potato Creek State Park, 1 to 3 p.m.: Meet at nature center for a group photo before a one-hour moderate hike. Warm up in the Peppermint Hill Shelter afterward with hot drinks and s’mores.

—Prophetstown State Park, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: Meet at the visitors center for a prairie hike that ends at the Native American Village with a fire in the council house and hot beverages.

—Raccoon Lake. Noon to 1 p.m.: Meet at the park main gate for a midwinter hike through the ruins of the village of Portland Mills. This will be a 1 mile moderate hike on and off trail. Learn about this village, founded in the 1830s, that was removed in 1959 to make way for the lake.

—Salamonie Lake, 10:30 a.m. to noon: Meet at Salamonie River State Forest’s interpretive center for a leisurely stroll on Salamonie’s tree trail. Advance registration is requested by calling 260-468-2127.

—Shades State Park, 1 to 2 p.m.: Meet at Hickory Shelter for a one-hour hike on Trail 1. Reflect on the past year and look forward to 2019 at Prospect and Inspiration points.

—Shakamak, State Park, 1 to 2:30 p.m.: Meet at the log cabin by the aquatic facility for a walk down the pedestrian path, around the west shelter, and back to the log cabin. The log cabin will have snacks, warm drinks and a fire. The entire route is ADA accessible.

—Spring Mill State Park, 1 to 2:30 p.m.: Meet at Spring Mill Inn’s front patio for a lake hike highlighting the history of the CCC and the lake. Cookies and hot cocoa will be served at the inn after the hike.

—Summit Lake State Park: An indoor activity for kids starts at 10 a.m. at the park office. At 11 a.m., hikers should meet at the nature center for a 1-mile, 30-minute hike. Coffee, hot chocolate and cookies will be available at the park office beforehand.

—Turkey Run State Park, 11 a.m. to noon: Celebrate the new year by hiking trails 6 and 11 while learning about the natural and cultural history of Turkey Run. The hike is moderately rugged hike. Refreshments will be available afterward in the inn.

—Versailles State Park, 2 to 4 p.m. Meet at the Oak Grove lot for an easy 2.75-mile hike along trail 2, which runs along the edge of Fallen Timber Creek.

—Whitewater Memorial State Park, 1 to 2:30 p.m.: Meet at the Poplar Grove Shelter for a moderate, 2.5-mile hike on the Memorial Loop Trail with a trivia game. Participants can drink hot cocoa around a fire afterward.

If you don’t see the property nearest you listed, check the DNR calendar for updates.

To view all DNR news releases, please see

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