Mid-Missourians participate in the national First Day Hikes program

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COLUMBIA – Community members kicked off the New Year on Sunday by going outdoors and hiking. 

Free hikes at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park were a part of the national First Day Hikes program.

America’s State Parks promoted the program in all fifty states.

Anyone from families to experienced hikers could hit the trails. 

There was a variety of hikes that vary in distance and landscape, and community members could choose from the five different hikes throughout the day.

Columbia resident Kathy Larison said it is a great time for a New Year's resolution.

"One of mine is to walk and be fit and be healthy," Larison said. "So this, the First Day Hike was just perfect for me to come on and then fulfull my New Year's resolution and just be outside on a beautiful, beautiful winter day."

Another hiker, George Tengel, said this was the first time he hiked in the event.

"It's important that people spend time with nature, instead of just like sitting around inside all day," Tengel said. 

State park staff and volunteers led the guided hikes.

Roxie Campbell, a park naturalist, said the event today might inspire others to get outdoors more often.

"Well this is just one of many opportunities people have to get out and enjoy their state parks," Campbell said. "And with Rock Bridge being so close here to Columbia, we hope people will maybe come next year to the First Day Hikes, but also throughout the year we have other programs and hikes."

Campbell expected about 100 hikers to come out. 

People can experience the state parks with a guide so they can go out and take advantage of the trails during the year.

America’s State Park programs encourage outdoor recreation in an effort to address obesity and promote mental and physical health.

People who participated could choose from the following:

  • 10 a.m. – Noon – Karst Trail (1.75 miles) – Bird watching, prairie and woods
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Deer Run Trail (3.75 miles) – Streams and woodland
  • 1 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. – High Ridge Trail (1.75) – Prairie, woodland and Clear Creek
  • 1 p.m. –  4 PM – Shooting Star Trail (2 miles) – Gans Creek, woodland
  • 1 p.m.  – 3:15 p.m. – Wagon Wheel Trail (1.75 miles) – History, Reyburn ruins

According to America’s State Parks, last year nearly 55,000 people hiked more than 133,000 miles around the country on guided hikes, while others hiked state park trails during the day.

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