Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Usher in 2023 with other outdoor lovers at one of the many First Day Hikes offered Jan. 1 at Indiana’s state parks, forests, and lakes.
First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start 2023. They offer a chance to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature, and connect with friends. Nearly all state parks and lakes, as well as some state forests, will offer hikes. Find one near you at on.IN.gov/INStateParkEvents.
The hikes are organized by Indiana State Parks in cooperation with America’s State Parks. They will take place in all 50 states. First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to foster healthy lifestyles and promote year-round recreation at state parks. For more information, visit America’s State Parks website at stateparks.org.
In addition to the hikes, six Indiana state park inns and the Indiana Dunes Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park will be open for meals.
The Garrison at Fort Harrison State Park will host a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Indiana Dunes Pavilion will have brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Abe Martin Lodge at Brown County State Park, Canyon Inn at McCormick’s Creek State Park, Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park, Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, and Turkey Run Inn at Turkey Run State Park will have breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. and brunch beginning at 10 a.m. More information can be found at IndianaInns.com.
First Day hikes are listed below. More may be added, so check the website if your favorite place is not listed. Make sure to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes on all hikes and dress for the weather.
- Brookville Lake. Meet at the Campground Shelter at Mounds State Recreation Area at 4 p.m. to hike the Wildlife Wander Trail, a .75-mile hike that should take approximately 45 minutes. There will be a campfire for hikers to warm themselves after the hike.
- Brown County State Park. This self-guided hike will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will start at the Nature Center. It is 2 miles long and should take about 1.5 hours. There will be interpretive stops along the way, including a hot chocolate stop.
- Chain O’Lakes State Park. Meet at the Sand Lake Beach parking lot at 11 a.m. This guided hike is about 1.5 miles over easy terrain and should last about 1.5 hours. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served after the hike as long as they last.
- Charlestown State Park. Meet at the Trail 3 and 4 parking lot at 10 a.m. for a 2.5-mile hike to Rose Island. This hike will take approximately two hours and is considered moderately rugged.
- Clark State Forest. Meet at the Oak Lake Shelter at 1 p.m. for a guided hike. Advance registration is recommended by calling 812-294-4306. Oak Lake Shelter can be found by turning left off the main road and circling around the ball field. It is the second shelter.
- Clifty Falls State Park. Meet at the Nature Center at 1 p.m. for a 2-mile rugged hike along trails 1 and 3. It should take 1½ to 2 hours to complete. Drinks and cookies will be available before the hike. Parking at the Nature Center is limited. You may also park in the overflow lot across from the inn and walk over.
- Deam Lake State Recreation Area (SRA). Meet at the Lake Vista Trailhead at 10 a.m. This hike is rugged with some short, steep stretches that lead to rock outcroppings and the property’s highest point. Refreshments and prizes will be provided after the hike. At noon, there will be a trail ride beginning at the Oak Barn in the Horse Campground along the 6-mile Deam Horse Trail loop around the property.
- Falls of the Ohio State Park. Meet at the Interpretive Center at 1 p.m. for an exploration hike to the fossil beds. Learn about Devonian sea life, as well as plants and animals that live along the river’s edge. Bring binoculars to look for winter birds. The Interpretive Center will offer access to restrooms before and after the hike but will otherwise be closed.
- Ferdinand State Forest. Meet at the Sycamore Shelter at 9 a.m. to hike a 1.7-mile loop on a moderately rugged trail. See Fossil Lake and stop by the Civilian Conservation Corps Shelter along the route. Hot refreshments will be provided.
- Fort Harrison State Park. Meet at the Delaware Lake Shelter at 1 p.m. for a 2-mile hike on a paved trail. Dogs are permitted on leash. Hot chocolate will be proved while supplies last.
- Greene-Sullivan State Forest. Meet at the Reservoir 26 Shelter at 8 a.m. Hot chocolate will be available.
- Harmonie State Park. Meet at the pool parking lot at 1 p.m. CT for a 2-mile hike on a paved bike trail to Rush Creek and back. A shorter hike will also be available at the same time. Stay after for hot cocoa and cookies provided by the Friends of Harmonie.
- Indiana Dunes State Park. Meet at the Nature Center for a 2-mile moderate to rugged loop along Trail 9 from 10 a.m. to noon CT. See the park landscapes and learn about park history. Enjoy snacks and a cozy campfire provided by the Friends of the Indiana Dunes.
- Interlake Off-road State Recreation Area (OSRA). Meet at the Big Kate Shelter at the main parking lot at 10 a.m. CT for a two-hour riding tour around Interlake OSRA. Refreshments will be provided after.
- Jackson-Washington State Forest. Meet at the parking lot below the CCC picnic area at 9 a.m. The hike is approximately 2 miles and will go to Pinnacle Peak and back.
- Lieber State Recreation Area (SRA). Meet at the Hilltop Shelter for a 1-mile hike. Bring binoculars for bird-watching.
- Lincoln State Park. Meet at the Nature Center at noon CT for a 2-mile hike through Mr. Lincoln’s Neighborhood Walk. Dress like Abe or your favorite historical character and then enjoy snacks and hot chocolate after.
- Martin State Forest. Meet at the Hardwood Lake parking lot for a guided one-half-mile hike beginning at 10 a.m. CT.
- McCormick’s Creek State Park. Meet at Canyon Inn at 2 p.m. for a hike to the waterfall. There will also be a photo contest that day from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Multiple age categories will be judged anonymously by a volunteer panel. Each winner will receive a 2023 Annual Entrance Permit. Registration card will include submission instructions.
- Mississinewa Lake. Meet at the Shelter House in Miami SRA at 4:30 p.m. for a 1-mile roundtrip, 1.5-hour easy hike to the campground pond. Walk the Frances Slocum Trail, which is newly paved, and see the beach at winter levels. Bring binoculars to watch for eagles.
- Monroe Lake. Meet at the Bay View Shelter in Fairfax State Recreation Area for the annual First Day Trail Run/Walk. Registration/check-in runs from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. and the untimed run/walk starts at 3:30 p.m. Participants can choose from a 1.3-, 2.9-, or 3.7-mile course. Advance registration is available through Dec. 30 for $15 at bitly/firstdayrun2023 and includes a hot foods station, event patch for the first 300 registrants, and an entry to the prize drawing. Same-day registration is $20, cash or check only.
- Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Meet at the Walls Shelter at 8 a.m. for a 1-mile hike on an accessible trail.
- Mounds State Park. Meet at the Nature Center at 4:30 p.m. for light refreshments and to fill out a “Nature’s New Year’s Resolution” card. At 5:30 p.m. the naturalist will lead a luminary walk to the Great Mound. The hike is easy to moderate and will last approximately 1 hour.
- O’Bannon Woods State Park. The park’s “Walk with an Ox” event will be at the Nature Center at 10 a.m. Meet oxen Gump, Cash, and Carter, and donkeys Garth and Gracie. The walk will be on a roadway for about 1 mile. Refreshments and photo opportunities will be available after the hike.
- Ouabache State Park. Meet at the bison enclosure parking lot at 1 p.m. for a tour of the area. The hike is on a mostly level gravel surface and will include a stop at the feeding station to observe the bison up close. There will be a walking tour of the Wonderland of Lights displays at 5:30 p.m. at the campground parking lot. No vehicles are allowed in the Wonderland of Lights during this time. Bring flashlights for the wonderland tour.
- Owen-Putnam State Forest. Meet at the park office at 8 a.m. for a guided hike on Poplar Top Trail.
- Patoka Lake. Meet at the Nature Center at noon for a trivia game based on the history of the park while hiking 3/4-mile Trail 4. Hot chocolate will be available after the hike, as well as a drawing for a 2023 Annual Entrance Permit.
- Pokagon State Park. Meet at the CCC Shelter at 2 p.m. for a 2.5-mile hike. A bonfire and refreshments will be available afterward. Park in the main beach parking lot or the lot by the basketball courts.
- Potato Creek State Park. Meet at the Quaking Aspen parking lot at 2 p.m. for a 1-mile hike around Worster Lake. Bring binoculars to view eagles and other wildlife.
- Prophetstown State Park. Meet at the Prairie View Picnic Area at 1 p.m. for an easy 2-mile hike. When the hike is over, enjoy hot chocolate and apple cider by the fire. This hike will also be offered on Jan. 2 at the same time.
- Raccoon SRA/Cecil M. Harden Lake. Meet at the Hollandsburg Boat Ramp, which is 500 feet east of the main park entrance, at 1 p.m., for a 1/2-mile hike into the lakebed along old U.S. 36. Hikers should expect a steep hill, mud, and wind.
- Redbird Off-road State Recreation Area (OSRA). Meet at 3 p.m. for a motorized “hike” along Trail 3. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided afterward.
- Salamonie Lake. Meet at the Interpretive Center at 10 a.m. for a 1.5-hour easy hike on the 1-mile Wildlife Management Trail. A portion of the hike will be on the accessible stone path, and there will be test drives of the motorized wheelchair on this section of the trail.
- Salamonie River Forest. Meet the property manager at the Three Falls Trail parking lot at 3 p.m. for a moderately rugged hike past all three of the waterfalls, down the newly repaired section of the Purple Trail, and out to the Salamonie River to look for bald eagles. Bring binoculars and cameras.
- Shakamak State Park. Meet at the Group Camp Mess Hall at 1 p.m. for a hike on Trail 2. Hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies will be provided after.
- Spring Mill State Park. Two hikes, one long and one short, will be available. The long hike begins at 9 a.m. at the Lakeview Activity Center. It is moderately rugged and should take about one hour to complete. The short hike is a 20-minute, 1/4-mile hike and begins at 9:30 a.m. at Trail 6 near the Grissom Memorial. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served at the activity center after both hikes.
- Starve Hollow State Recreation Area (SRA). Meet at the Forest Education Center at 10 a.m. for a 1-mile walk around the campground to spot wildlife and discuss winter survival. Light refreshments will be provided after the hike.
- Summit Lake State Park. Meet at the park office at 9 a.m. to get a photo with Smokey Bear, as well as coffee and snacks. At 10 a.m. join park staff for a prairie hike.
- Tippecanoe River State Park. Meet at the fire tower parking lot at noon for this 1/2-mile hike, which will include a talk on the fire tower’s history.
- Turkey Run State Park. Meet at the Nature Center at 11 a.m. for a guided hike through Rocky Hollow Nature Preserve. Learn about some of Turkey Run’s geology along the way on this 2-mile very rugged trail. Bring plenty of water.
- Versailles State Park. Meet at the Oak Grove parking lot at noon for a 2.5-mile hike on Trail 1, which is approximately 2.5 miles long and considered moderately difficult. Refreshments provided afterward.
- Whitewater Memorial State Park. Meet at the Poplar Grove Shelter at 2 p.m. for a 2.5-mile hike of the Memorial Loop Trail that should take approximately 90 minutes. There will be a fire afterward.
- Yellowwood State Forest. Meet at 4523 T.C. Steele Road in Nashville for a 2-mile hike along an access road with some off-trail hiking. To get to the location turn left, or east, at the 4523 mailboxes onto a gravel road and travel about a 1/2 mile. Park at the green gate.
To view more DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.