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Enter 2022 with a First Day Hike

The guided hikes are organized by Indiana State Parks in cooperation with America’s State Parks. First Day Hikes will take place in all 50 states. Photo courtesy of DNR

Usher in 2022 with other outdoor lovers at one of the many First Day Hikes offered Jan. 1 at Indiana’s state parks, forests, and lakes.
First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start 2022 and a chance to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and connect with friends. Nearly all state parks and lakes, as well as some state forests, will offer hikes. Find a hike near you at on.IN.gov/INstateparkevents.
The guided hikes are organized by Indiana State Parks in cooperation with America’s State Parks. First Day 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 (stateparks.org) or facebook.com/Americas-State-Parks-205324976548604.
For Hamilton County residents, the two closest First Day Hikes might be at Fort Harrison and Mounds. Details for those, and all the others received so far, are below.

Fort Harrison State Park. Meet at the Delaware Lake Shelter at 1 p.m. for a 2-mile, one-hour hike. Friends of Fort Harrison will be providing hot cocoa while supplies last.

Mounds State Park. Meet at the Nature Center Front Porch​ before 5:30 p.m. for warm beverages. At 5:30 p.m. will be a .25-mile easy hike lasting about 45 minutes along an illuminated trail.

Brookville Lake. Meet at 4 p.m. at the Campground Shelter at Mounds  State Recreation Area, which is across from the Wildlife Wander Trail. Hike is 0.7 miles, rated easy, and should last about 45 minutes. There will be a campfire after the hike.
Brown County State Park. This hike will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be self-guided with interpretive stops along the way, including a hot chocolate stop. Participants should start at the Nature Center. The hike is 2 miles and should take about 90 minutes.
Cataract Falls. A brochure for this self-guided hike is available at the gatehouse.
Chain O’Lakes State Park. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Sand Lake Beach parking lot for this 1.5-mile hike over easy terrain, which should last about 90 minutes. The hike will be followed by cocoa and cookies as supplies last.
Charlestown State Park. Meet at the Trail 3 and 4 parking lot at 10 a.m. for a 2.5-mile, two-hour hike to Rose Island. The hike is considered moderately rugged.
Clark State Forest. Meet at the west side shelter at noon for a guided hike on a 1-mile loop in the White Oak Nature Preserve. Enjoy this easy hike and the talk given about the importance of white oak trees and responsible management. 
Clifty Falls State Park. Meet at the Clifty Shelter at 2 p.m. for a two-hour moderately rugged hike along Trail 8. This trail meanders along the west side of Clifty Creek and offers scenic views of the canyon below. Water and cookies will be provided before the hike. The restroom at Clifty Shelter will be closed for the winter, so plan ahead.
Falls of the Ohio State Park. Meet at the Interpretive Center at 2 p.m. to hike the fossil beds and learn about Devonian sea life. Bring binoculars to look for winter birds. The Interpretive Center will be closed on Jan. 1 except for restrooms.
Ferdinand State Forest. Meet at the Sycamore Shelter at 9 a.m. to hike about 1.7 miles along a section of the Twin Lake trail with a brief stop to warm by a fire and have hot chocolate.
Greene-Sullivan State Forest. Take a self-guided 1-mile hike around Reservoir 26, where you’ll find a series of question and answers to related to natural resources. 
Hardy Lake. Meet at the Main Trailhead across from the beach access road at 9 a.m. for a 2.75- mile, one-hour hike.
Harmonie State Park. Meet at the pool parking lot at 10 a.m. CT for a moderate 2-mile, 90-minute hike. Cookies and cocoa will be provided by the Friends of Harmonie after the hike.
Indiana Dunes State Park. Meet at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center at 10 a.m. for a 1 ½-mile, 90-minute hike on the 3-Dunes Challenge. Drinks, snacks, a campfire, and a 3-Dunes Challenge sticker will be provided by the Friends of the Indiana Dunes.
Interlake State Recreation Area. Stop by the main office to pick up a map for a scavenger hunt from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT and complete the hike for a prize while supplies last.
Jackson-Washington State Forest. Meet at the parking lot below the CCC playground at noon at start of Trail 1, just before the Pinnacle Shelter, for a 2-mile, one-hour hike to Pinnacle Peak.
Lieber State Recreation Area. Join the naturalist for Lieber’s Sunset First Day Hike at 4:30 p.m. at Hilltop Shelter. Hike is a moderate 1.5-miles. Snacks and hot chocolate, and a campfire will be provided.
Lincoln State Park. Meet at the Nature Center at noon CT for a 1 ½-mile, one-hour hike to the Sarah Lincoln Nature Preserve. Snacks and hot chocolate provided at the Nature Center. A second 2-mile hike will be offered around Lake Lincoln.
Martin State Forest. Meet at the Hardwood Lake parking area at 10 a.m. for a half-mile guided hike.
McCormick’s Creek State Park. Meet at Canyon Inn at 1 p.m. for registration for Winter Magic Photo Contest Hikes, which will begin at 2 p.m. Pick one of three different guided hikes. After the hikes, enter your photos and enjoy refreshments courtesy of Canyon Inn.
Mississinewa Lake. Meet at the Blue Heron Trail within Miami State Recreation Area at 4:30 p.m. for this hour-long hike. S’mores will be served. Advance registration is requested by calling 260-468-2127.
Monroe Lake. The ninth annual First Day Trail Run/Walk will take place at Fairfax State Recreation Area. Registration is from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. at Bay View Shelter and the untimed event starts at 3:30 p.m. Participants can choose from a 1.3-, 2.9-, or 3.7-mile course. Cost is $15 and includes a grab-n-go box meal, event patch, gift certificate, and an entry for prize drawing. Advance registration is required by Dec. 30.
Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Meet at the forest office parking lot at 9 a.m. for this walk on an accessible trail.
O’Bannon Woods State Park. Meet at the nature center at 10 a.m. for a Walk with an Ox and the park’s donkeys, Garth and Gracie. The walk will be on a roadway for about 1 mile, with photo opportunities with the animals. Refreshments will be served at the Nature Center.
Ouabache State Park. The hike will start at 1 p.m. at the bison enclosure parking lot on Trail 1, an easy trail with a gravel surface, and will go around the American bison enclosure. The hike will include a stop at the feeding station where guests will be able to observe the bison up close.
Owen-Putnam State Forest. Meet at the Owen Putnam State Forest office at 9 a.m. for a guided hike on Poplar Top Trail.
Patoka Lake. Meet at the Nature Center at noon and grab a challenge sheet about Patoka history that participants can fill in during the hike. The winner will receive a 2022 Annual Entrance Pass. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served.
Pokagon State Park. Meet at the CCC Shelter for a 3-mile hike from 2 to 3:30 p.m. There will be a bonfire, cocoa, and treats after the hike. Park in the South Beach parking lot or near the basketball courts.
Potato Creek State Park. Meet at the Quaking Aspen parking lot at 2 p.m. for a 1-mile hike around Worster Lake. Bring binoculars. At 3:30 p.m., warm up at the Nature Center with a bowl of chili provided by the Friends of Potato Creek.
Prophetstown State Park. Meet at the Prairie View Picnic Area at 1 p.m. Jan. 1 or 2 for a 2-mile easy hike. Enjoy hot chocolate and apple cider by the campfire.
Raccoon State Recreation Area. Meet at the Bluebird Shelter at noon for this one-hour moderately rugged hike.
Salamonie Lake. Meet at the Interpretive Center at 10:30 a.m. for this one-hour hike through the woods along the Wildlife Management Trail. Advance registration is requested by calling 260-468-2127.
Shades State Park. Meet at the Hickory Shelter at 10:30 a.m. for this 1-mile moderate to rugged hike on Trail 1. Expert birder and park volunteer Alan Bruner will lead this hike, which includes Prospect Point, Silver Cascade Falls, and Devil’s Punchbowl.
Spring Mill State Park. Two hikes will be offered. Meet at the Spring Mill Inn at 9 a.m. for a 90-minute moderate to difficult Nature Preserves Hike along Trail 3. For an easier hike, meet at the Gus Grissom Memorial parking lot at 10 a.m. for a 30-minute hike along Trail 6, which is paved and .25 miles long. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served in the Lakeview Room at the Inn after the hikes.
Summit Lake State Park. Meet Smokey Bear at the Park Office from noon to 2 p.m. for photos and a scavenger hunt on Trail 4.
Tippecanoe River State Park. Meet at the Fire Tower parking lot at noon for this .5-mile hike to the tower.
Turkey Run State Park. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Turkey Run Inn for a guided hike through Turkey Hollow on Trail 6 and the Trail 7 loop.
Versailles State Park. Meet at the Oak Grove parking lot at 1 p.m. for a 2.5-mile moderately difficult hike on Trail 1. Refreshments will be provided.
Whitewater Memorial State Park. Meet at the Poplar Grove Shelter at 2 p.m. for a 2.5-mile hike of the Memorial Loop Trail, which should last about 90 minutes.
Yellowwood State Forest. Meet at the forest office parking lot at 9 a.m. for a first day hike along the 1-mile Resource Management Trail.