For the seventh consecutive year, Wyoming State Parks Historic Sites and Trails is participating in the national trend of trying to get people outside on New Year’s Day.

Known as America’s First Day Hikes, all 50 states offer an assortment of guided hiking adventures throughout their park system. According to the National Association of State Park Directors, more than 55,000 hikers trekked throughout the country last year specifically with the program.

The robust Wyoming State Park system is offering 16 such guided opportunities all across the state Jan. 1. Though times and trail details vary depending on the location of the trek, all the opportunities offered are free to the public.

Within a 100-mile radius of Cheyenne, four guided hikes in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska are being offered. They are all family friendly and allow leashed dogs.  

For more information on a broader spectrum of outdoor activities and places participating, visit https://www.stateparks.org/.

Wyoming

Curt Gowdy State Park: Meeting at the Curt Gowdy Visitor Center off Happy Jack Road at 11 a.m., hikers will take on Kate’s Trail. The 2-mile “easy” hike travels through the granite rock formations that uniquely punctuate the area. Hot beverages are offered to the public following the hike. For more information and to register or cancel, call 307-632-7946.

Guernsey State Park: Hikers will meet at the yurts at 10 a.m. and follow the Brimmer Point trail. The hike is 2½ miles long and is considered easy. To register, cancel or get additional information, call 307-836-2334.

Nebraska

Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area: Hikers will meet at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at 1:30 p.m. and follow the Nature trail for 1 mile. The hike is considered moderately difficult. A park entry permit is required for this hike. To register, call 308-436-3777.

Colorado

Lory State Park: Hikers will meet at the Arthur’s Rock trailhead and traverse to the Arthur’s Rock formation and Wells Gulch. It is considered moderate to difficult and is suggested for hikers age 10 or older. A Colorado State Parks pass is required to enter the park, but it is free to use the trail. The guided hike will only accommodate 25 people; to register, call 970-493-1623.

No matter where you go, start the new year off on the right boot and connect with nature.

What to bring

Hiking in the winter months, whether it’s on the High Plains or the foothills of the Rocky Mountains requires attention and planning. Although most places will differ given weather and distance, it’s always a good idea to bring more water than what you think is necessary – especially if you’re hiking with a four-legged friend. A softshell outer layer with a thermal or wicking T-shirt and a sturdy pair of boots or water-resistant hiking shoes is a good place to start. If hiking in snow or ice, traction such as microspikes is recommended. Depending on the amount of snow, snowshoes may be a good idea. Bringing another clothing layer in a backpack, along with gloves, scarf and hat, is also a good idea. Check the weather for where you’re going and be prepared for it to change. Rain or snow doesn’t deter people who prepare for it.

Jacob Byk is a photojournalist and outdoor writer at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Reach him at 307-633-3128 if he has service or follow his outdoor adventures at @JacobBykphoto on Instagram.

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