Free guided 'First Day' hikes at Ore. state parks

KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 11:09 AM PST December 16, 2013    UPDATED: 11:10 AM PST December 16, 2013 
SALEM, Ore. -

The Oregon Parks and Rec reation Department invites the public to ring in 2014 by participating in one of 30 guided hikes to take place in state parks on New Year's Day, including Smith Rock State Park.

This is the third year that OPRD has participated in First Day Hikes, a nationwide initiative sponsored by America's State Parks (www.americasstateparks.org) to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate the New Year by getting out for a walk in a state park. Last year, more than 420 people participated in First Day Hikes in Oregon.

OPRD will waive the day-use parking fees on Jan. 1 for all visitors to participating state parks that normally require a permit. 28 parks are participating in First Day Hikes this year:

Portland Metro area:

* L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, 9:00-11:00 a.m.--meet at Hilltop Day-use Area picnic shelter
* Milo McIver State Park, 10:00-11:00 a.m.--meet at lower boat ramp of Riverbend Day-use Area
* Tryon Creek State Natural Area, 9:00-11:00 a.m.--meet at Nature Center

Columbia River Gorge:

* Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, 10:30 a.m.-noon--meet at Mark O. Hatfield East trailhead
* Rooster Rock State Park, 10:00 a.m.-noon--meet at far east end of parking lot

Willamette Valley/Cascades:

* Champoeg State Heritage Area, 9:30-10:30 a.m.--meet at visitor center
* Elijah Bristow State Park, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.--bring your horse and meet at equestrian staging area
* Luckiamute Landing State Natural Area, 10:00 a.m.-noon--meet at north trailhead
* North Santiam State Recreation Area, 11:00 a.m.-noon--meet at North Santiam picnic shelter
* Silver Falls State Park, 10:00-11:00 a.m.--meet on porch of South Falls Lodge
* Willamette Mission State Park, 10:00-11:00 a.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m.--meet at main entrance flagpole loop

Southern Oregon:

* Tou Velle State Recreation Site, 11:00 a.m.-noon--meet at picnic area A
* Valley of the Rogue State Park, 10:00 a.m.-noon--meet at program area

Coast:

* Beverly Beach State Park, 10:00-11:30 a.m.--meet at day-use parking area
* Bullards Beach State Park, 10:00 a.m.-noon--meet at east picnic shelter gazebo
* Cape Lookout State Park, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.--meet at Cape Lookout trailhead parking lot
* Crissey Field State Recreation Site, 10:00 a.m.-noon--meet at cluster sign off of parking lot
* Devil's Lake State Recreation Area, 10:00-11:00 a.m.--meet at registration booth
* Fort Stevens State Park, 9:00-10:00 a.m.--meet at historic area museum
* Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.--meet at group camp
* Oswald West State Park, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.--meet at South Neah-kah-nie Mountain trailhead
* South Beach State Park, 10:00-11:30 a.m.--meet at day-use area/jetty trailhead
* Sunset Bay State Park, noon-2:00 p.m.--meet at gravel pull-out just south of Shore Acres State Park
* William M. Tugman State Park, 10:00 a.m.-noon--meet at day-use parking lot

Central/Eastern Oregon:

* Cottonwood Canyon State Park, noon-1:00 p.m.--meet at Pinnacles trailhead
* Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.--meet at community building
* Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site, 10:00-11:45 a.m.--meet at parking area next to highway
* Smith Rock State Park, 10:00 a.m.-noon and 1:00-3:00 p.m.--meet at welcome center

Many of the First Day Hikes will be interpretive presentations focusing on local wildlife, plant species, geology, or history. Unique hikes this year include a "bring-your-own-horse" hike/ride that will be led by a ranger on a mule, a wild edibles hike, and a "zombie apocalypse" hike focused on outdoor survival skills. Some parks will be offering light refreshments or warm drinks to participants at the completion of the event. To get more details about specific hikes, including directions to the park and a description of the length and terrain, visit bit.ly/OPRDcalendar online and search for "First Day Hikes" under Event Category.

This year, OPRD is asking participants to share photos of their First Day Hike via social media by using the Twitter hashtag #ORfirstdayhikes or tagging "Oregon State Parks" on Facebook. Images can also be emailed to beth.wilson@state.or.us.

OPRD reminds those planning to join a hike on the 1st to dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring along water as well as a camera and/or binoculars. In case of inclement weather, each park should be contacted directly to find out about cancellation--phone numbers are available online. For helpful cold-weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society's webpage at americanhiking.org/cold-weather-hiking, and for road conditions, the Oregon Department of Transportation's TripCheck website at tripcheck.com.