For the ninth year, Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails is offering a series of free guided hikes at locations around the state on New Year’s Day, including Curt Gowdy State Park.
The 17 outings are part of a national initiative called America’s State Parks First Day Hikes, which are set to take place in all 50 states.
At Curt Gowdy, a two-mile hike is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday on Kate’s Trail, a paved, accessible route. Dogs on leashes are permitted, and daily-use fees will be waived. Hikers should meet at the park’s visitor center.
Non-motorized trails coordinator Paul Gritten said First Day Hikes are a popular event around the state that attract hundreds of participants no matter the weather.
“It’s aimed at getting people out on the very first day of the year to get a little exercise and see the parks in the off-season,” he said.
Last year, almost 300 hikers participated despite temperatures hovering in the single digits across Wyoming. Gritten said guided outings are a low-risk way for people to try a new activity even when conditions seem daunting.
“As long as you’re dressed properly and moving, you’ll be generating heat,” he said.
At Curt Gowdy, hikers who want a longer walk usually have the option of joining a group to continue hiking, Gritten said.
“Typically, we go back out and do another trail,” he said.
Others opt to enjoy the warmth of the visitor center, where they’ll find cookies and hot beverages.
Gritten said the State Parks department looks forward to the hikes and showing off the parks during a time of year when many don’t think to visit, though they’re open year-round.
“It’s bittersweet to cross another year off the list, but it is always a good way to kick off our season,” he said.
Hikes are also scheduled for Bear River State Park, Boysen State Park, Buffalo Bill State Park, Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park, Fort Bridger State Historic Site, Fort Fetterman State Historic Site, Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site, Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site, Guernsey State Park, Historic Governor’s Mansion, Hot Springs State Park, Keyhole State Park, Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site, Sinks Canyon State Park, South Pass City State Historic Site and Trail End State Historic Site.
Nationwide, almost 55,000 people hiked more than 133,000 miles on New Year’s Day.