First Day Hikes at Arkansas State Parks
Have you heard of First Day Hikes before? It’s a neat concept. Basically, state parks across the U.S. celebrate the start of a new year with these hikes on January 1.
The first one took place over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The initiative targeted the first of January—the start of a new year—to promote healthy lifestyles. Through the years, other states have joined the program by offering First Day Hikes and other outdoor programs on New Year’s Day.
Arkansas State Parks is among them.
Arkansas’s state park system includes 140 trails totaling 388 miles. Folks can explore a trail on their own or join a state park interpreter on a guided hike.
According to a news release sent by Joan Ellison of Arkansas State Parks, trails range in length from short nature walks to overnight backpacking adventures. Trails lead hikers through rugged, scenic terrain in Arkansas’s two mountain ranges, the Ozarks and the Ouachitas. Trails stretch along the shores of Arkansas’s great lakes and into bottomlands teeming with wildlife. Hikers can follow the banks of renowned rivers, including wild and scenic streams. Trail enthusiasts can explore state historic sites and Arkansas’s diamond site. Barrier-free trails accommodate the
needs of visitors with disabilities. Among this wide variety of trails are nationally-designated trails. And, in addition to walking and hiking trails, the state park system includes biking, equestrian, river, and off highway vehicle trails. There are also trails to experience and enjoy on the water.
Arkansas State Parks First Day Hikes will be held at the following state parks. Of note regarding conditions following the record snowfall: All the parks that previously had hazardous roads have reopened and all of the hikes are a go. All hikes are weather dependent so remember to call ahead before you head to a park.
• Bull Shoals-White River State Park (Bull Shoals)—Big Bluff Trail from 10 a.m. to noon
• Cane Creek State Park (Star City)—Delta View Trail from 2-4 p.m.
• Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area (Wickes)—Harris Creek Trail from 1-4 p.m.
• Crater of Diamonds State Park (Murfreesboro)—Little Missouri River Trail from 2-3 p.m.
• Crowley’s Ridge State Park (Paragould)—Dancing Rabbit Trail from 10-11 a.m.
• Daisy State Park (Kirby)—Daisy Creek Nature Trail from 1-2 p.m. (meet at the pavilion parking lot)
• Davidsonville Historic State Park (Pocahontas)—Trapper Lake Trail from 2-3 p.m.
• DeGray Lake Resort State Park (Bismarck)—Island Trail from 9-10 a.m. (meet in the lobby of DeGray Lodge); Green Heron Trail from 2-3 p.m. (meet in the park visitor center parking lot)
• Devil’s Den State Park (West Fork)—View Sunrise from Yellow Rock on the Yellow Rock Trail (meet at the Lower Yellow Rock Trailhead near Area A) from 6:30-8:30 a.m.; Devil’s Den Trail from 1-3 p.m. (meet at the park visitor center)
• Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area (Rogers)—Shaddox Hollow Trail from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Ozark Plateau Trail from 1-1:30 p.m. (meet at the park visitor center); Eagle Cruises from 3-4:30 p.m. (meet at the Rocky Branch Marina): Cost: Adult—$10, Child (6-12)—$5; under age 6—free
• Jacksonport State Park (Jacksonport)—Bring a Tyke and Take a Hike on the Tunstall River Walk Trail from 10-11 a.m.; Jacksonport State Park Mighty Hike from 2-4:30 p.m. (meet at the park’s boat launch parking lot)
• Lake Catherine State Park (Hot Springs)—A Hike Through the Woods and Along the Lakeshore from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (meet at the park’s trailhead)
• Lake Charles State Park (Powhatan)—New Year’s Resolution Hike on White Oak Trail from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
• Lake Chicot State Park (Lake Village)—A Hike to Start off the Year along the Delta Woodlands Nature Trail from 3-3:45 p.m.
• Lake Dardanelle State Park (Russellville)—Meadowbrook Trail from 10-11 a.m.
• Lake Fort Smith State Park (Mountainburg)—Ozark Highlands Trail from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (meet at the park visitor center)
• Lake Frierson State Park (Jonesboro)—Dogwood Lane Trail from 1-2 p.m. (meet at the park visitor center)
• Lake Ouachita State Park (Mountain Pine)—Caddo Bend Trail from 9 a.m. to noon
• Lake Poinsett State Park (Harrisburg)—Great Blue Heron Trail from 2-3:30 p.m. and enjoy a warm, Dutch oven treat with park staff at the finish of the hike
• Logoly State Park (McNeil)—Hike Logoly on the First Along Crane’s Fly Trail from 10-11 a.m. (meet in the park visitor center)
• Millwood State Park (Ashdown)—Waterfowl Way Trail from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• Mississippi River State Park (Marianna)—Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail from 2-3 p.m.
• Moro Bay State Park (Jersey)—Low-Water Trail from 2-3:30 p.m.
• Mount Magazine State Park (Paris)—Hike to the High Point on Signal Hill Trail from 9-10 a.m. (meet at the entrance to The Lodge at Mount Magazine)
• Mount Nebo State Park (Dardanelle)—Summit Park Trail from 2-4 p.m.
• Petit Jean State Park (Morrilton)—View the Birds on Seven Hollows Trail from 8:30-9:15 a.m. (meet at the Seven Hollows parking area); A Hike Through the Ages on a trek to the Cedar Falls Overlook from 10:30-11:30 a.m. (meet in the Mather Lodge breezeway), Taking Care of the Trail to Bear Cave from 1-2:30 p.m. (meet at the Mather Lodge breezeway); Rim Trail Hike along the rim of Cedar Creek Canyon on one the most scenic sections of the Boy Scout Trail from 3:30-5 p.m. (meet at the Rock House Cave parking area)
• Pinnacle Mountain State Park (Roland)—Early Morning Base Trail Hike from 9-11 a.m. (meet at the West Summit Trailhead); Kingfisher Wetland Wonders Hike on the Kingfisher Trail from 2-3 p.m.
• Powhatan Historic State Park (Powhatan)—Historic Town Tour from 1-3 p.m. (meet at the Powhatan Courthouse)
• Queen Wilhelmina State Park (Mena)—Lover’s Leap Trail Hike from 9-11 a.m. (meet at the Day-use Area parking lot); Step Back in Time walk from 1:30-3 p.m. (meet at the Ouachita Trail trailhead just west of the park’s Tent Camping Area)
• Village Creek State Park (Wynne)—Military Road Trail from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (meet at the Lake Austell boat ramp)
• White Oak Lake State Park (Bluff City)—Hike in the Sand Hills from 9-10 a.m. (meet at the park visitor center)
• Withrow Springs State Park (Huntsville)—War Eagle Trail Hike from 10-10:30 a.m. (meet at the Keith Ham Pavilion)
• Woolly Hollow State Park (Greenbrier)—Huckleberry Trail from 1-3 p.m.
Details about these hikes in Arkansas’s state parks on January 1 can be found online here.