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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Kick-off 2022 with a Hike at an Arkansas State Park

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In all 50 states, hikers in America’s State Parks will kick off the new year with healthy, fun, outdoor experiences as part of the annual First Day Hikes event. This year for First Day Hikes, Arkansas State Parks will offer guided hikes at many locations, as well as encourage self-guided walks and hikes throughout the “First Weekend,” January 1 and 2, for those who would like to explore on their own. All participants are eligible to receive a free sticker.

“We are happy to bring back guided hikes this year, and we also invite our guests to take a self-guided hike to kick off the new year outdoors,” said Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst. “Our 52 state parks are located throughout the state, giving Arkansans an opportunity to find the perfect trail at a park close to home.”

Participants can receive a free sticker one of two ways:

Take part in a guided hike and receive a sticker at the program.

Log self-guided hikes in Arkansas State Parks by filling out a form (to be posted on ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes on Dec. 31) and receive a free sticker in the mail for each person in your group.

“First Day Hikes are a new tradition for so many families and friends of Arkansas State Parks,” said Arkansas State Parks Deputy Director Shea Lewis. “We love being able to offer many different opportunities for our guests to honor these traditions and continue to build meaningful connections to the resources of state parks.”

Arkansas State Parks asks guests to recreate responsibly and remember:

When the parking lot is full, the park is full. Consider planning your hikes on less-visited trails or off-peak times of the day. Consider having a Plan B in place.

Dress for the weather. Wear and bring warm layers and sturdy shoes.

Bring water and snacks.

Practice physical distancing. Keep 6’ distance from hikers who don’t live in your immediate household.

Stay on designated trails. Shortcuts cause damage and are unsafe.

Practice “Leave No Trace” principles.

A few park locations are closed on the January 1 holiday but will be open on January 2. Visit the Arkansas State Parks event calendar to find a First Day Hike near you.

Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Lover’s Leap Trail

Meeting Place: South Side Lover’s Leap Trailhead

Saturday, Jan. 1, 8:30-10:00 a.m.

Join a park interpreter on the 1.3-mile Lover’s Leap Trail for a blood-pumping hike with amazing views. Much of the Lover’s Leap trail is difficult due to elevation changes, rocky areas, and steep slopes. Hikers must wear proper close-toed shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. 

Cossatot River State Park

Meeting Place: Visitor Center

Saturday, Jan. 1, 1- 4 p.m.

2-mile hike on the Harris Creek Trail with a break at the scenic Goat’s Bluff Overlook.

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