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Group Hikes Scheduled for New Year’s Day

Winter scene at Chadron State Park
Winter’s wonders, such as this frost-covered scene at Chadron State Park, are sure to greet those who ring in the New Year with a First Day Hike. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is inviting the public to ring in the New Year by enjoying a guided hike through one of the state’s scenic state park lands.

First Day Hikes are scheduled at six Nebraska parks on New Year’s Day, part of a larger effort of the America’s State Parks alliance.

Bob Hanover, assistant parks division administrator, said the hikes are a great way to get outside, enjoy nature, exercise and enjoy time with friends and family. The hikes are 1-3 miles with varying degrees of difficulty.

Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather and bring drinking water and snacks. Pets are welcome on most of the hikes, but must be on a leash no more than six feet long. The hikes are designed to be family- friendly, but some may be challenging especially for small children and people pushing strollers.

More information about each of the hikes is available by visiting the “calendar” link at OutdoorNebraska.org. Vehicles entering the parks must have a 2016 park entry permit, available online at outdoornebraska.org, or from vendors across the state.

Information about Nebraska’s First Day Hikes (All times local):

Ash Hollow State Historical Park, Lewellen, 10 a.m., Picnic Grounds, 3 miles, easy. Informative hike about area history.

Chadron State Park, Chadron, 10 a.m., Sawmill Shelter, 2 miles, moderate. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument staff will join in leading an informative nature hike.

Fremont State Recreation Area, Fremont, 10 a.m., Tow Line Concession, 2.5 miles, easy. Nature hike will feature hot chocolate and a look at new facilities and trails.

Mahoney State Park, Ashland, 3 p.m., Kountze Memorial Theater, 1 mile, moderate. Bonfire will commemorate park’s 25th anniversary following the hike. Hot chocolate and popcorn available for 25 cents each.

Platte River State Park, Louisville, 9 a.m., Walter Scott Lodge, 1.5 miles, easy. Hot chocolate served after a hike through the woods.

Ponca State Park, Ponca, 2 p.m., The Riverfront, 1.4 miles, moderate/difficult. First installment of the Ponca State Park Hiking Marathon Challenge.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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