To start off the New Year, 49 state parks are hosting First Day Hikes on Jan. 1, 2020. The outdoor hikes launch the Iowa state park centennial in 2020.

“We are excited for this opportunity for park visitors to help us celebrate the centennial by getting outdoors with friends and family,” said Todd Coffelt, Parks, Forests and Preserves bureau chief at the DNR. “These hikes are for everyone, even those who have never visited a state park or been on winter hikes. We invite you to join us in kicking off the New Year and enjoying nature.”

Last year, more than 1,400 people participated in hikes on New Year’s Day across Iowa, hiking more than 1,100 total miles at dozens of state parks. Hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, and experience spectacular views, beautiful settings and the cultural treasures offered by Iowa’s state parks. Many parks will also provide hot beverages and snacks after the hike. Participants should dress for the weather, including warm, sturdy boots for winter conditions.

The 49 state parks participating are the most since the DNR started hosting the hikes nine years ago. For a complete listing of First Day Hikes in Iowa’s State Parks, including meeting locations and start times for each park, visit www.iowadnr.gov/firstdayhikes.

The DNR is planning numerous special events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of state parks throughout 2020 with the goal of celebrating, connecting and inspiring Iowans to visit and care for parks now and in the future. Backbone State Park near Dundee in northeast Iowa, was dedicated in May 1920 and marks the beginning of the Iowa state park system.

Two hikes will take place at Rathbun Lake. The Honey Creek State Park hike begins at the park office, 12194 Honey Creek Place beginning at 10 a.m. and is a mile in length with moderate difficulty.

The second is at Honey Creek Resort at the Nature Center at 10 a.m. It is a mile in length and is moderate difficulty.

Hikers are reminded to dress for the weather. Wear layers of clothing and sturdy hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves. Binoculars and a camera always come in handy, and remember to bring water. Strollers are not recommended. Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. Some hikes may not be appropriate for children under five years. Dogs must be on a leash and are not allowed into indoor locations, such as lodges and visitor centers. Trail difficulty may depend on the amount of snow on the ground.

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