OKLAHOMA CITY — In keeping with an annual tradition, Oklahoma State Parks will again host First Day Hikes on Jan. 1, 2018. The free, guided hikes present an opportunity to begin the New Year on a healthy perspective by getting outdoors, connecting with nature and promoting year-round recreation.
Osage Hills State Park west of Bartlesville is among parks in northeastern Oklahoma and across the state that will host First Day Hikes. Osage Hills will offer three separate hikes.
The first hike will take place directly at midnight. Hikers will start gathering after 11 p.m. Sunday at the ballfield.
“There will be a bonfire going,” said Park Manager Nick Conner. “Hikers will start gathering after 11 p.m. at the ballfield. Just follow the signs.”
A second hike will be held at 1 p.m. Both hikes are relatively easy, 1-mile hikes along the fairly level terrain of the Creek Loop Trail. Well-behaved dogs on leashes welcome.
“Just show up and have fun,” Conner invited. “If you want to bring something to roast — hot dogs, marshmallows — the bonfire will be going.”
A third hike includes a hay ride to the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp and a guided tour and presentation on the history of the park with a park ranger. After exploring the camp, hikers will hike down Lake Trail to Lookout Lake (about 3/4 mile total) and catch a hay ride back to the bonfire. However, this hike is by reservation only, and Conner said reservations were currently full.
He advised all hikers to wear appropriate footwear and especially clothing, as temperatures will be very chilly.
“It looks like it's going to be pretty cool,” he said.
But the hike will go on “rain or shine,” he added. The event will only be cancelled if the weather is dangerous.
Last year, more than 150 hikers participated at Osage Hills, and Conner is expecting similar numbers for this year's event. Officials with Oklahoma State Parks are hoping for a great turnout across the state as well.
“Last year was the biggest year for our state park first day hikers,” said Oklahoma State Park Director Kris Marek. “We had an outstanding turnout of more than 1,300 participants and hiked a combined 2,400 miles statewide at our parks. The weather was perfect for being outdoors and we hope Mother Nature cooperates with us again in 2018.”
Nineteen Oklahoma State Parks will host hikes on New Year's Day, including Arrowhead State Park, Beavers Bend State Park, Lake Eufaula State Park, Lake Wister State Park, Robbers Cave State Park, McGee Creek State Park, Lake Murray State Park, Lake Thunderbird State Park, Foss State Park, Roman Nose State Park, Great Plains State Park, Keystone State Park, Osage Hills State Park, Grand Lake State Park, Grand Lake State Park, Natural Falls State Park, Greenleaf State Park, Tenkiller State Park and Sequoyah State Park.
Park staff and volunteers will lead the free hikes. Hikers may bring a camera or binoculars for wildlife viewing, and don't forget water and snacks.
In the event of inclement weather, information will be available by calling Osage Hills State Park at 918-336-4141 or find the Osage Hills State Park on Facebook.
For information on other parks, visit TravelOK.com.