As we finalize last-minute preparations for this most wonderful time of the year, our spirit of goodwill and harmony will soon give way to a post-holiday hangover.
A sure cure for the aftereffects we suffer from our turkey-induced coma, eggnog fog and fruitcake overload is outside our door. The treatment is easy and free and includes a heavy dose of fresh air and sunshine.
For the second year, Oklahoma State Parks is participating in a nationwide effort with America’s State Parks to encourage visitors to begin a healthy new year with free hikes in a state park on Jan. 1. Last year, all 50 states held First Day Hikes with six Oklahoma state parks hosting the inaugural event.
“We’re excited once again to welcome visitors to our parks and encourage everyone to establish a healthy New Year’s tradition with their families and get outdoors,” said Kris Marek, Oklahoma state parks director.
This year, 13 Oklahoma state parks invite visitors to explore the parks, hike for free and enjoy the beauty of nature in the wintertime.
• Arrowhead, Canadian: Meet at the park office at 10 a.m. for an easy one-mile hike.
• Beavers Bend, Broken Bow: Meet at the Forest Heritage Center at 9 a.m. for a moderate one-mile hike along the Cedar Bluff Trail.
• Grand Lake-Bernice Area: Meet at the Nature Center at 11 a.m. for an easy half-mile hike along the Bernice Nature Trail.
• Foss State Park, Foss: Meet at the Mouse Creek Campground at 10 a.m. for a moderate three-mile hike along the Warrior Trail.
• Greenleaf, Braggs: Meet at the Kid’s Fishing Pond Gazebo at 10 a.m. for an easy one-mile hike along the Family Fun Trail.
• Lake Murray, Ardmore: Meet at the park office at 2 p.m. for an easy half-mile hike along the new Park Office Trail.
• Lake Thunderbird, Norman: Meet at the park office at 10:30 a.m. for an easy to moderate hike along the Hog Creek Trail. The trail is divided into three separate sections that range from a half-mile, one-mile and two miles in length.
• Lake Wister, Wister: Meet at the Ward’s Landing Pavilion at 1 p.m. for an easy one-mile hike on the Lone Star Nature Trail.
• Osage Hills, Pawhuska: Meet at the park office at 9 a.m. for a moderate hike along the two-mile Lake Trail.
• Robbers Cave, Wilburton: Meet at Shelter Six at 9 a.m. for hikes along two separate park trails. The Outdoor Classroom Trail is an easy .8-mile hike through a wooded area near the outdoor classroom. The Mountain Trail is a moderate to strenuous three-mile hike with a steady incline to an area with a scenic view above the cliffs overlooking Lake Carlton. Children are welcome but must be carefully supervised along the higher elevation bluff trail.
• Roman Nose, Watonga: Meet at the Roman Nose Lodge parking area at 10 a.m. for a moderate hike along the 3.5-mile Path to Inspiration.
• Sequoyah, near Wagoner: Meet at the Three Forks Nature Center at 10 a.m. for a moderate hike along the quarter-mile Fitness Trail.
• Tenkiller, Vian: Meet at the Driftwood Nature Center at 10 a.m.9 for a moderate hike along the 1.5-mile long Crappie Point Trail.
The trails in the parks provide hikers with a variety of furry and feathered friends to discover along their journey. A refreshing day in the outdoors can be very rewarding, especially in the winter, but guests should dress appropriately for cool weather and wear comfortable shoes. Come prepared with water, a snack for longer hikes, binoculars and a camera. A walking stick might come in handy but is not required.
For more detailed information on the hiking event at the individual park, visit Americasstateparks.org and click on the First Day Hikes logo. For Oklahoma state park descriptions, addresses and phone numbers, visit TravelOK.com.