Roaring River State Park will host its inaugural First Day Hike on Jan. 1, 2012. Hikers are invited to meet at the Devil's Kitchen trailhead at noon.
"A good way to kick off the New Year on the right foot is by getting out and enjoying our natural resources," said Tim Smith, Roaring River naturalist. "Bring a camera. This will be a nice hike."
Smith said there are not fitness requirements for hiking the Devil's Kitchen trail, which is 1.5 miles in length. He does encourage participants to dress for the weather.
"We have no idea what the weather will be like that day," said Smith. "Dress for the forecast, and come planning to have a wonderful time."
Although he cannot promise sightings of native birds or woodland creatures, Smith said he wouldn't say hikers won't come across any forest animals.
"It will depend on the number of hikers we have and how quiet they are on the trail," said Smith. "There is a good chance that we could see some wildlife.
"We still have eagles in the park," said Smith. "So, even if they don't see anything on the trail, they can plan to spend a little time in the park before or after the hike to view the eagles."
Nature enthusiasts will also have an opportunity to view the eagles during Roaring River's eagle viewing events on Jan. 21, 2012, and Feb. 18, 2012.
"We're excited to host First Day Hikes in Missouri state parks as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks," said Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director. "Hikes offer great ways to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.
"I hope you'll take this opportunity to start the new year with a new tradition for your friends and family and take a hike in a Missouri state park," said Bryan. "If you are not able to attend one of our guided hikes, you can still take advantage of the numerous trails throughout our state park system."
First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was designed to promote healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks.
The Jan. 1, 2012, First Day Hikes will be the first time that all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor the program.
For more information on Roaring River's First Day Hike, call the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center at 417-847-3742.