The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 29, 2012

Area parks schedule First Day Hikes on Jan. 1

From staff reports
From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — A New Year’s Day tradition that started at a state park in Massachusetts more than 20 years ago has caught on in the Four-State Area.

First Day Hikes are planned at Prairie, Stockton and Roaring River state parks in Southwest Missouri on Tuesday, Jan. 1. Devil’s Den and Hobbs, state parks in Northwest Arkansas, and Bernice State Park in Oklahoma, also will offer hikes that day.

Hikers are asked to dress for the weather and bring their own water.

Missouri

• The prairie in winter will be the focus of a 1.6-mile hike that begins at 1 p.m. at Prairie State Park. The hike will be on the park’s Gayfeather Trail, but visitors are to meet at the nature center.

The trail passes through high quality prairie in the park. Visitors may see bison, deer, northern harriers, short-eared owls, bald eagles and other prairie animals. Following the hike, “Greenfire,” a documentary about Aldo Leopold, will be shown at the nature center.

Details: 417-843-6711.

• Roaring River State Park will offer a hike beginning at 10 a.m. Hikers are to meet at the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center for the 2.5-mile hike that will take them on parts of three trails. It will travel along a ridge top, then down and along the river back to the nature center.

Details: 417-847-3742 or 417-847-2539.

• Stockton State Park will offer a 1.75-mile hike beginning at 1 p.m. on the Umber Ridge Trail. Hikers will pass through open oak-hickory woodlands and have opportunities to see bald eagles, white-tailed deer and turkeys. Hikers should meet at the Umber Ridge Trail trailhead.

Details: 417-276-4259.

Arkansas

• “View Sunrise from Yellow Rock,” is the theme of an early morning hike at Devil’s Den State Park south of Fayetteville, Ark. The two-mile hike begins at 6:30 a.m. and will catch sunrise from a rock outcropping within the park. The hike will last two hours. Hikers should meet at the Lower Yellow Rock Trailhead near Area A in the state park.

Another First Day Hike will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. along the Devil's Den Trail, also in Devil’s Den State Park. Hikers are to meet at the flagpole near the Visitor Center. This hike will highlight many natural features, including rock formations, cave and waterfalls.

Details: 479-761-3325.

• The Shaddox Hollow Hike begins at 11 a.m. in Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. It is a 1.5-mile hike and participants are to meet at the Shaddox Hollow Trailhead.

A shorter half-mile Ozark Plateau Hike will begin at 1 p.m. Participants hike one-half mile on a paved trail. Meet at the park’s visitor center.

Details: 479-789-5000.

Oklahoma

• Hikers can gather at the nature center at Bernice State Park on Grand Lake south of Afton, Okla., for a First Day Hike that begins at 11 a.m. It will be 1.5 miles and will follow the shoreline of Grand Lake along the Bernice Nature Trail. Many bird species such as the red-tailed hawk, dark-eyed junco, downy woodpecker and several species of gulls make Grand Lake their home during the winter.

Details: 918-257-8330 or 405-230-8385

Learn more

For more information on First Day Hikes, visit www.americasstateparks.org