Arizona is all over the news this week, with more exciting outdoors news coming from the Grand Canyon State. That’s because on January 1st, snowbirds and locals alike are lacing up their hiking boots to kick off 2016 with eighteen free “First Day” guided hikes offered at different Arizona state parks.
All 50 state parks around America are hosting these January 1 guided trail hikes to encourage health and fitness in the new year, but Arizona is one of the few states in the nation where hikers are most likely to enjoy the warmest temperatures in the country.
All Hikers Welcome to Participate
You don’t have to be a fitness freak to enjoy these free guided trail hikes. Rangers are leading walks for all levels of participants, from easy two hour interpretive hikes to seven mile trips into some of Arizona’s best desert scenery. As a bonus, leashed dogs are welcome at many of these hikes, such as Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park in the city of Superior.
The Arboretum allows leashed dogs – if you’re looking for a nearby eatery afterwards to get a late lunch with your canine compadre after enjoying the gardens and trails, Porter’s Café in the nearby town of Superior has great burgers, cold beer, healthy salads – and is Superior’s lone “dog-friendly” restaurant, in fact the café earned a coveted 5-bone rating from Bringfido.com
After the hike, participants are encouraged to stick around and enjoy a Native American style Sage Smoke blessing and concert by Arvel Bird, a recording artist with roots in both Paiute culture and Celtic music who plays celtic fiddle and flute.
The popular snowbird enclaves of Tucson, Lake Havasu and Parker are also holding guided First Day Hikes, including:
Tucson: Catalina State Park
8am. Meet at the Equestrian Center parking area. Join Volunteer Gaston Meloche for a hike on the 50-year trail loop. This is a seven-mile hike with 450 feet elevation gain. This is a relatively easy hike and participants will return on an equally pleasing trail to make the loop. Download a map
Lake Havasu City: Cattail Cove State Park
10am. Meet at the launch ramp/trailhead area. This is a moderate two to three-mile hike and will last approximately three hours. The hike, led by Volunteers Bill and Betty Noble, will discuss the history, fauna and wildlife of the area.
Parker: Buckskin Mountain State Park
10am. Join AZ State Parks Mascot Rocky Ringtail for a moderately difficult hike, available to all ages. Led by Park Rangers Wayne Bailey and Ron Gayman. Meet at the Trailhead across from the Ranger Station. Pets are allowed and must be leashed. Length of the hike is about 2 hours, covering 1.5 miles of beautiful scenery and interpretation of popular desert trees.
Things to Know about First Day Hikes in Arizona
Although these events are free, normal entrance and camping fees apply at most locations. And since park rangers can’t guarantee what the weather will be like, come prepared with sturdy hiking shoes, a supply of drinking water for you and your dog if you bring one and of course a camera to share your adventure with others. To see all hikes offered on January 1, visit the Arizona State Parks website.