Welcome 2021 with an Indiana DNR tradition – a First Day Hike on Jan. 1.
First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start the new year and provide a chance to get outside, exercise, and enjoy nature.
In past years, Indiana state parks, reservoirs and state forests have offered organized hikes led by park staff and volunteers. These hikes have become a tradition for thousands of Hoosiers.
This year, in response to the need to practice social distancing and keep group sizes to those within an individual's personal “bubble,” the DNR has created hiking opportunities that allow Hoosiers to be their own tour guides.
After deciding which state park, reservoir or state forest to visit for a hike, stop by the site of choice to pick up an Indiana First Day Hike sticker. Stickers will be available at the entrance gates at Pokagon, Chain O'Lakes, Turkey Run, and Shades state parks, and at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area; at the nature center at Indiana Dunes State Park; and outside all other state park and reservoir property offices.
The state forest properties – Salamonie River, Clark, Greene-Sullivan, Yellowwood, Morgan-Monroe, Owen-Putnam, Ferdinand, Pike, Jackson-Washington, Martin, and Harrison-Crawford state forests, and Deam Lake and Starve Hollow SRAs will also participate.
All will have stickers available outside their offices.
Hikers are encouraged to wear their sticker proudly during their hike and be ready to say “happy new year” to fellow hikers on the trail.
Choose a favorite trail and look for a “resolution sign” at each trailhead. These signs will propose different new year's resolutions hikers might consider.
Snap a photo of with the sign, then take a hike. Hikers are encouraged to share their resolution or hike photos on the Indiana State Parks Facebook page at facebook.com/INdnrstateparksandreservoirs or on the Division of Forestry Facebook page at facebook.com/INdnrforestry and use either #FirstDayHikeIN, #FindYourResolution, or #IHikedTheFirstDay to allow images to be found so you can be included in the drawing for prizes.
The DNR will randomly select participants from those who post to win park passes, inn and camping gift cards, and more.
Make sure to bundle up, bring a warm drink and snack, and remember to wear a mask if on a popular or narrow trail where maintaining social distancing is a challenge.
If Hoosiers are not able to visit a state park, reservoir or state forest for a First Day Hike, check out a virtual First Day Hike video on the Indiana State Parks Facebook page on New Year's Day and enjoy the hiking experiences of others.
This annual event is organized by Indiana State Parks in cooperation with America's State Parks (stateparks.org and facebook.com/Americas-State-Parks-205324976548604).
Hikes and virtual opportunities will take place in many of the 50 states.
First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at 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.
See additional details and great ideas for fitness and hiking challenges on the DNR's Healthy Parks, Healthy People page at dnr.IN.gov/healthy.