Maine State Parks Offer New Year’s Fun with Four “First Day Hikes” | Events

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Maine State Parks Offer New Year’s Fun with Four “First Day Hikes”
Maine State Parks Offer New Year’s Fun with Four “First Day Hikes”

New Year’s revelers will get the chance this year to welcome in 2012 in a new way, with four guided “First Day Hikes” sponsored by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL), under the Maine Department of Conservation.

Maine state parks are joining a nationwide initiative among all 50 states to offer “First Day Hikes” as way for individuals and families to connect with great outdoor fun and to create special, holiday memories. The Jan. 1 hikes mark the first time all U.S. state park systems have joined together to sponsor the event.

As part of the initiative, four easy and fun “First Day Hikes,” led by park staff at four different Maine state parks, will take place on Sunday, Jan. 1. All the hikes are free – in fact, no admission will be charged at any open Maine state park on New Year’s Day.

“What a great way to start the New Year – outside at Maine state parks!” said Will Harris, BPL director. “I hope folks will make this a New Year’s tradition.”

“There’s no better way to kick off the New Year than with a hike at a state park,” echoed Ruth Coleman, president of the National Association of State Park Directors, which is sponsoring the national program. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s state parks on New Year’s Day.”

Maine’s four, family-friendly “First Day Hikes” offer a variety of outdoor locales to experience at a special time of year, from the mountains of Aroostook County to Down East coastal seascapes to popular oceanfront parks. The four hikes will take place:

  • 8-11 a.m., Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle; groomed, classical cross country ski trails; sliding hill; lodge open as a warming area; hot cocoa, coffee, water and snacks provided; snowshoe rentals, $5 a day, please call to reserve; tel. no: (207) 768-8341.
  • 8:30-10:30 a.m., Cobscook Bay State Park, Edmunds Township; groomed ski trails; Hot cocoa, water and snacks provided. Snowshoes rentals, $5 a day; call to reserve, tel. no.: (207) 726-4412.
  • 2-3 p.m., Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport; free snowshoe use, courtesy of L.L. Bean; call to reserve; tel. no.: (207) 865-4465.
  • 10:30-11:30 a.m., Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg; tel. no.: (207) 389-1335.

Focusing on the natural landscapes of each park, the four hikes will have different themes, according to Gary Best, BPL assistant regional manager, who is organizing the statewide event.

“Our Maine state parks are very different on Jan. 1 than they are at the height of summer,” Best said. “We think these guided hikes at this time of year will offer visitors something new and different to experience.”

At Aroostook, known as “Maine’s First State Park,” Park Manager Scott Thompson will focus on “Stories in the Snow,” discussing park history, hike etiquette, animal track identification and winter habitats. At Cobscook, Park Manager Matt McGuire will present “A Cobscook Shore Walk,” discussing coastal ecology, natural history and wildlife. At Wolfe’s Neck Woods, Park Manager Andy Hutchinson, a well-known Maine naturalist, will discuss “Winter in the Woods," focusing on the ways that plants and animals survive in winter, as well as identification of animal tracks and signs. At Popham Beach, Jocelyn Hubbell, BPL interpretive specialist and an avid winter-time beach walker, will offer “The Gifts of the Sea”; hikers will experience the first low tide of the New Year and learn about beach and dune dynamics at one of Maine’s most popular parks.

Snowshoes, should they be needed, will be available at three of the state parks, Best said. This year, iconic Maine outfitter L.L.Bean, a strong supporter of BPL events, will provide 40 pairs of snowshoes for free use at Wolfe’s Neck Woods, Best said.

“One thing folks should keep in mind is to call ahead of time directly to the park for reservations, so we can set aside a pair of snowshoes for them,” he emphasized.

Best urged participants to dress appropriately in layers, wear sensible footwear, and bring water. He also suggested that visitors bring a lunch and spend the day at the park of their choice.

“People should come prepared,” Best said. “We would love people to spend more time at the parks at the conclusion of the walks.”

For more information, call the parks directly or go to: www.parksandlands.com

 

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