Dec 252013

Each year America’s State Parks announce a national collaboration of all 50 State Park systems across America to sponsor guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. Arizona State Parks will charge day-use entrance fees only for the First Day Hikes at 13 parks on Jan. 1, 2014.
According to State Parks Director Bryan Martyn, “We are committed to promoting outdoor recreation as a way to get families outside and unplugged from their video games and other electronic media. This is a great opportunity to take the family on an easy hike.”
Northern Arizona state parks participating in guided hikes on Jan. 1 include:
* Dead Horse Ranch State Park (Cottonwood). The hike begins at 10 a.m. Meet at the west lagoon parking lot. The hike will last about two hours and cover about three miles. Hikers will meander along the Verde River riparian area as well as the three lagoons on the park.
* Red Rock State Park (Sedona). Hikes begin at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. Meet at the visitor center. No dogs are allowed. Enjoy a 1.5-hour interpretive naturalist-led hike about birds, nature or geology of the area.
* Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (Payson). Hikes begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The hike will proceed to the Gowan Trail to the observation desk under the natural bridge. It will last about two hours even though it is only a half-mile. The trail is steep and requires steps. No pets or strollers are allowed on the hikes. Afterward a guided tour of the historic lodge will be offered. Call (928) 476-2261 for more information.
For all hikes, wear warm clothes in layers, bring one liter of water, hat, sunscreen, good walking shoes, walking stick, binoculars and a camera for your hike. There are always good photo opportunities on these hikes. Also, be sure to check with the park for details about the hike before you leave to be sure there are no changes to the hike for that day due to the weather. Children under 6 years old may need to be carried throughout the hike, so plan to hike with backpacks.
For information about First Day Hikes in other parts of Arizona, as well as details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing go online to or call 1-800-285-3703. You can also keep up with new information about activities in Arizona State Parks through Facebook and Twitter at AZStateParks.