Begin the New Year with a hike

Birding along the Colorado Riverfront Trail and the Jim Robb-Colorado River State Park is one of the winter recreation opportunities availalble for New Year’s day hikers.

Eighteen Colorado state parks, including Ridgway State Park, are offering special guided hikes today as part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s First Day Hikes initiative.

The initiative is designed as an opportunity for individuals and families to begin an active New Year by connecting with the outdoors.

“Getting outdoors is a great way to start the year off right — whether you’re burning off holiday calories or resolving to be more active,” said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “These hikes are perfect for the Colorado lifestyle and we are excited to again be part of the national First Day Hike initiative.”

The hikes are free but park visitors must have either a daily parks pass or a valid annual pass.

Ridgway State Park offers two different hikes. At 9:30 a.m., visitors should meet at the Dutch Charlie Visitor Center for a one-mile or three-mile hike along the Forest Discovery Nature Trail.

The hike offers spectacular views of Ridgway Reservoir and Mt. Sneffels.

At 1:30 p.m., a guided hike begins from the Dallas Creek Confluence restrooms for a chance to see a rarely visited area of the park. The hike goes along the Uncompahgre River and Dallas Creek, with views of Mt. Sneffels and scenic rock formations. Information at 970-626-5822.

Several local state parks, including Highline Lake and the Jim Robb — Colorado River State Park, offer year-round opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home.

Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

The initial First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation State Park in Milton, Mass.

Since then, America’s State Parks, a trade group representing the more than 7,000 state parks across the nation, and the National Association of State Parks Directors have helped the program reach to all 50 states.

Visitors taking the hikes should be aware of varying terrain because of winter conditions. In addition to proper clothing, water and snacks, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says hikers also may wish to bring snow shoes, strap-on ice cleats, trekking poles, cameras, binoculars and wildlife guide books.


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