Missouri State Parks is partnering up with state parks across the nation in a hiking event Sunday afternoon.

Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Missouri State Parks Director Bill Bryan:

Bill Bryan

Press Release from Missouri State Parks

Celebrate the beginning of 2012 by participating in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes in one of nine Missouri state parks. The free guided hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy and rejuvenating hike Jan. 1.

“We’re excited to host First Day Hikes in Missouri state parks as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks. Hikes offer great ways to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Nine Missouri state parks will offer Jan. 1 guided hikes ranging from one-half mile to three miles. A list of state parks with guided hikes follows.

• Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, Wildwood. Meet at 2:30 p.m. at the Virginia Day Memorial Trailhead; hike will be one mile;
• Crowder State Park near Trenton. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Redbud Trailhead; hike will be two miles; Call 660-359-6473 or email [email protected]. to register.
• Graham Cave State Park near Montgomery City. Meet at 12 noon at the park office; hike will be one-half mile on the Indian Glade Trail.
• Pomme de Terre State Park near Hermitage. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Pittsburg area campground entrance near trail kiosk; hike will be 2.75 miles on the Indian Point Trail.
• Prairie State Park near Mindenmines. Meet at 10 a.m. at the park’s nature center; hike will be 1.5 miles on the Drover’s Trail.
• Roaring River State Park near Cassville. Meet at 12 noon at the Devil’s Kitchen Trailhead; hike will be 1.5 miles;
• Rock Bridge Memorial State Park near Columbia. Meet at 12:45 p.m. at the Devil’s Icebox parking area; hike will be three miles (with an option for a shorter hike) in the Gans Creek Wild Area.
• Trail of Tears State Park near Jackson. Meet at 1 p.m. at the park’s visitor center; hike will be approximately two miles along the park’s southern boundary. Please register in advance by calling 573-290-5268 and leaving a message.
• Washington State Park near De Soto. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Thunderbird Lodge; hike will be 1.5 miles on the 1000 Steps Trail.

“I hope you’ll take this opportunity to start the new year with a new tradition for your friends and family and take a hike in a Missouri state park. If you are not able to attend one of our guided hikes, you can still take advantage of the numerous trails throughout our state park system,” Bryan said.

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. While many states offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, this is the first time all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

“What better way to kick off the new year than with a hike in a state park?” said Ruth Coleman, president of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

“Studies have shown that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” stated Phil McNelly, NASPD’s executive director. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

America’s State Parks and Missouri State Parks are committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

For more information on the First Day Hikes as well as all Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. For information on the First Day Hikes initiative across the nation, visit americasstateparks.org.