Wear sturdy shoes on a hike at Montauk State Park in Salem or hike through a rocky hardwood forest, on top of a bluff overlooking the Meramec River at Onondaga Cave State Park as the annual First Day Hikes take place at 31 state parks and historic sites across Missouri on Jan. 1.
Annual First Day Hikes will take place at 31 state parks and historic sites across Missouri on Jan. 1. Participants can choose from more than 30 free, guided hikes that range in difficulty from easy to moderate, cover distances up to seven and a half miles and include a variety of trails in every region of the state.
In its ninth year, the annual event is part of America’s State Parks First Day Hike effort which gives people the opportunity to start off the year with an outdoor hike at a state park.
“Participating in a First Day Hike is a great way to start a new year with friends and family. We encourage you to get out and enjoy some fresh air, while exploring the landscape of your favorite Missouri State Park,” said Mike Sutherland, acting director of the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks. “We’d love to see you start off the new year at a state park and continue to visit throughout the year, taking advantage of both the physical and mental health benefits of nature.”
Nearly 55,000 people participate in guided hikes that cover more than 133,000 miles for First Day Hikes in state parks in 50 states. A list of Missouri state parks with guided First Day Hikes and other related activities is available at https://mostateparks.com/FirstDayHikes. Details on every state’s 2020 hikes are located at https://www.stateparks.org/. As in the past, participants are encouraged to log their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.
Want to go? Here are a few options:
Montauk State Park in Salem
Wear sturdy shoes for this moderately strenuous hiking trail that goes to the Montauk Upland Forest Natural Area. Here you will see how prescribed fire is beneficial to natural communities and possibly spot bald eagles flying overhead. After the hike, hot chocolate, coffee and a warm fire will await you at the stone shelter.
Hike Time: 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Meeting Location: Stone CCC Shelter
Location: 345 County Road 6670, Salem, Missouri
Contact: (573) 548-2201
Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg
Onondaga Cave State Park will be hosting a First Day Hike on the Deer Run Trail. This moderate 2.5-mile hike will take guests through a rocky hardwood forest, on top of a bluff overlooking the Meramec River, and into a glade restoration area. This informative hike will be led by an enthusiastic naturalist and Onondaga Cave tour guide.
Meet at the showerhouse parking lot in the campground to use the restroom and get instructions. Wear sturdy shoes, dress in layers and bring water. In the case of inclement weather, please check the status of the hike by calling (573) -245-6576, as the park might not be accessible in certain conditions.
Hike Time: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Meeting Location: Showerhouse parking lot in campground
Location: 7556 Hwy. H, Leasburg, Missouri
Contact: (573) 245-6576
Bennett Spring State Park in Lebanon
Ranger Bobby Sharp will lead hikers on the beautiful 2.5-mile Savanna Ridge Trail. Winding through open woodland and a glade, the trail overlooks Spring Hollow. A portion of the trail follows roads used by people from the 1840s to today as they accessed ponds and grazing areas. Abundant wildlife that may be viewed includes deer, chipmunks, squirrels and a variety of birds.
The Savanna Ridge Trail consists of steep grades, stream crossings without bridges and natural surface material such as rocks, dirt, mud, shifting rocks and slippery surfaces.
Hikers should wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather. Meet Ranger Sharp at the trailhead located past the cabins southeast of the spring at 11 a.m.
Hike Time: 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Meeting Location: Savanna Ridge Trailhead
Location: 26250 Hwy 64A, Lebanon, Missouri
Contact: (417) 532-4338
*Information from Missouri State Parks