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More than 15 state park areas to hold guided hikes on New Year’s Day

LINCOLN, Neb. – Each with a unique experience to offer, more than 15 Nebraska state park areas will offer guided hikes to visitors on New Year’s Day.

Part of a larger effort of the America’s State Parks alliance, First Day 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 6 feet long. The hikes are designed to be family-friendly, but some may be challenging especially for small children and people pushing strollers.

More Nebraska state parks are offering First Day Hikes than ever before, giving those interested in attending a range of options and unique settings to choose from. Hiking opportunities include:

— Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park; Burwell; Jan. 1, 2019; 10 a.m. Fort Hartsuff once stood as a buffer between settlers and Native Americans, and is typical of Plains infantry outposts. Because the main fort buildings were constructed of a lime/concrete mixture, many have survived. Go on a one-mile history hike at Fort Hartsuff to see it all, with hot chocolate and coffee to follow.

— Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area; Ogallala; Jan. 1, 2019; 8 a.m. The one-mile hike at Lake Ogallala takes place during the peak of bald eagle viewing season, with the chance to see over 100 bald eagles.

— Mormon Island State Recreation Area; Doniphan; Dec. 31, 2018-Jan. 1, 2019; 11 p.m.-1 a.m.: The Full Moon Celebration hike includes a bonfire and other activities, and will take place at midnight to celebrate the kick-off of the New Year beneath a full moon. Hikers can enjoy the sounds of nature at night: owls hooting, deer crunching through the snow, and the slushy river flowing.

— Platte River State Park; Louisville; Jan. 1, 2019; 9 a.m.: Hikers at Platte River State Park will ring in the new year with bird watching as well as hiking. Visitors can climb the Lincoln Journal Star Tower and enjoy birdwatching along the Stone Creek trail by the park’s iconic waterfall.

— Ponca State Park; Ponca; Jan. 1, 2019; 2 p.m.: Bigley’s Ravine Trail takes visitors through the oak woodland of Ponca State Park. Hikers will find themselves surrounded by oak, hackberry and ironwood trees as they catch glimpses of the Missouri River at the trail’s highest points.

For complete details on these events, as well as information about the many other hikes available, visit Calendar.Outdoornebraska.gov.

Vehicles entering the parks must have a 2019 park entry permit, available for purchase online at OutdoorNebraska.org or at permit vendors and Game and Parks district offices across the state.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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Pictured are the cabins at Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area in Knox County. Kurrus, Feb. 7, 2008. Copyright NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

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