First Day Hikes Set Records in Arkansas

First Day Hikes Set Records in Arkansas

Syllamo Events Calendar

On January 1st, an annual tradition called First Day Hikes took place in 974 state parks across America, from Hawaii to Maine. Visitors had the opportunity to participate in ranger-led hikes, bike rides, history tours, races, horseback rides, polar plunges, and other activities to celebrate the beginning of the year 2024.

First Day Hikes has for thirty years now, special events have been organized in all fifty states to welcome visitors on January 1. These guided hikes were initiated to help Americans kickstart the new year on a positive note – by spending time outdoors and reconnecting with nature.

“Whether participants chose a scenic trail, a tranquil lakefront, a historic site, or one of the many of the activities, the goal is to promote a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “In addition to the physical benefits of hiking and fostering a connection with people and their area state parks, we hope it inspires a lifelong appreciation for the importance of conserving these natural treasures.”

As of today, 974 state parks around the country hosted 1,339 guided hikes with over 66,021 participants, leading to 138,871 miles being hiked (a few states are still to report). America’s State Parks hoped to make 2024 a record-breaking year and they did. They reached two major milestones: surpassing 1 million miles hiked and 500,000 participants during First Day Hikes 2024.

Hiking group at Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, AR.
Hiking group at Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, AR.

Arkansas hikers enjoy over 1700 miles

For the three-day New Year’s weekend, Arkansas State Parks proudly sponsored a total of 63 invigorating hikes in 40 picturesque state parks across the state. A whopping 1,556 avid hikers eagerly participated in these guided hikes, covering an impressive 1,766 miles of scenic trails. This incredible turnout broke the previous record of 1,462 participants, which was achieved in January 2020. These hikes were an excellent opportunity for nature enthusiasts to explore the beauty of Arkansas’s state parks, while also promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.

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In northwest Arkansas, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area had the highest number of participants with 222, but Petit Jean State Park and Pinnacle Mountain State Park were close behind with 219 and 203 participants respectively. Pinnacle Mountain State Park had the highest number of miles covered with 292.5 miles, followed by Devil’s Den State Park with 155.6 miles, and Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area with 136.5 miles.

Ozark Outdoor Supply

Arkansas State Parks offer hundreds of hikes throughout the year. You don’t have to wait until 2025 to begin your hiking journey. Go to the state park’s events calendar and get your feet moving soon.

Hikers make their way down the trail at Ozark Folk Center State Park.
Hikers make their way down the trail at Ozark Folk Center State Park.

(All photos shot at the 2024 First Day Hike at Ozark Folk Center by Kirk Jordan, courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism)

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