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State Parks offer First Day Hikes
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Looking for an outdoor getaway for New Year’s? America’s state park systems across the nation will sponsor over 500 guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2013, offering hikers an up-close and personal look at the country’s natural beauty.

 “Last year, we offered 400 hikes and 14,000 participants logged over 30,000 miles in our state parks in all 50 states,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors.  “To start 2013, we’re offering over 500 hikes nationwide and inviting kids and adults to get their hearts pumping and experience the beauty of our State Parks.”

The tradition of First Day Hikes originated at a state park in Milton, Mass. 20 years ago, when a park ranger wanted to promote year-round healthy living and recreation.

From California to Maine, hikers will have the chance to climb hills and mountain loops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies.

Hiking isn’t just a great way to see nature and history, though. A 160 pound person burns 438 calories in an hour of hiking, according to the Mayo Clinic, making hiking a great way to get a workout.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Phil McNelly, NASPD 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.”

 Though no Valley state parks are part of the First Day Hikes, there are a few Northern California parks participating including Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, Wilder Ranch State Park in Felton, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Scotts Valley and Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek.

State park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park.  Details about hike location, terrain, and tips regarding proper clothing are stated in the America’s State Parks website.

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