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Group hikes scheduled for New Year’s Day

LINCOLN, Neb. – 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 15 Nebraska state park areas on New Year’s Day, part of a larger effort of the America’s State Parks alliance. The hikes have been offered at Nebraska state parks for the past five years, and see robust attendance each year, said Assistant Parks Division Administrator Bob Hanover.

Hanover said the hikes are a great way to get outside, enjoy nature, exercise and enjoy time with friends and family. The hikes range from a half mile to 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. Most of the hikes are not stroller-friendly and some may be challenging for small children.

“Bring a camera, binoculars and a nature journal, and come explore these beautiful winterscapes at our parks,” Hanover said.

Hiking opportunities include:

Mormon Island State Recreation Area, Doniphan, 11 p.m., Dec. 31-1 a.m. Jan. 1: Hikers will experience the sounds and senses of the nighttime woods during this midnight hike. The hike is moderate difficulty and approximately 1 mile. Meet at Lake No. 2 Cedar Campground East Parking Lot.

Indian Cave State Park, Jan. 1, 2 p.m.: This flat and easy walking trail will take you through a .75-mile nature viewing journey where many deer, raccoon and an abundance of birds can be seen.

Ponca State Park, Jan. 1, 2 p.m.: Hikers will find themselves surrounded by oak, hackberry, and ironwood trees as they catch glimpses of the Missouri River on the trail’s highest points. The trail is 1.6 miles of hilly terrain rated as moderate and recommended for ages five and up. Meet at the West Shelter.

Ash Hollow State Historical Park, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.: This scenic 1-mile hike includes lookouts over the North Platte River Valley and a great vantage point to see numerous species of wildlife and geographic and historical features.

Buffalo Bill State Historical Park, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.: This 2-mile historical hike will take participants through the grounds of the Buffalo Bill ranch while learning about the history of the world-renowned showman. Meet at the Buffalo Bill Mansion.

Platte River State Park, Jan. 1, 9 a.m.: The hike will offer birding along the Stone Creek Trail as it passes a small waterfall, with a bonfire and hot chocolate provided.

More information is available at Calendar.outdoornebraska.gov. Vehicles entering the parks must have a 2020 park entry permit, which may be purchased on-site, at OutdoorNebraska.org, or from vendors 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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