State Parks Host New Year's Day Hike

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COLUMBIA - More than 50 Columbians started their new year with a hike at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park at the First Day Hike event Wednesday. Organizers said they hoped the hike would encourage people to get outdoors and take advantage of state parks in the new year. 

First Day Hike is a national event, and Missouri State Parks hosted 40 guided hikes in conjunction with the event. Columbia hosted three hikes at two locations, two at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and one on the Katy Trail. Sixty-three people participated in all three hikes total.

Naturalist Roxie Campbell said Rock Bridge Memorial participated in the national event for the second time this year, but the park has hosted winter hikes for years.

"Winter's just a great time to get out and enjoy the open spaces, you know after the holiday, get some exercise," she said.

Campbell said this year's event focused on prairies and sinkholes, which she said is the environment the first settlers would see in Missouri.

"It'll be like being in the middle of a dried flower arrangement, all around you," she said.

Stephanie Hull, a graduate student at MU, said this was her first time participating in the event.

"I thought it was a really cool event that the Department of Natural resources was doing," she said. "I really enjoy being outside, and it's kind of different being outside in the winter, as opposed to the summer."

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is open all year. For maps and other information on the park's trails go to its website.