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On New Year's Day, take a hike

Oregon State Parks offers free guided hikes on Jan. 1

Start 2014 by celebrating in Oregon’s state parks with a hike.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites the public to ring in 2014 by participating in free guided hikes offered at 28 state parks on New Year’s Day.

At L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, Washington County’s only state park, a hike will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. Meet at Hilltop Day-use Area picnic shelter. The hike is approximately three miles on gravel and natural surfaces, with easy to moderate terrain. The hike will be along the Unfit Settlement View Trail to the highest point in the park. There is also a self-guided option. Visit the Discovery Depot at the Welcome Center for information.

For additional information, contact Ranger Steve Kruger at 503-724-8429.

This is the third year that the park, located near Vernonia, has participated in First Day Hikes, a nationwide initiative sponsored by America’s State Parks (americasstateparks.org) to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate the New Year by getting out for a walk in a state park. Last year, more than 420 people participated in First Day Hikes in Oregon.

OPRD will waive the day-use parking fees on Jan. 1 for all visitors to participating state parks that normally require a permit.

Twenty-eight parks are participating in First Day Hikes this year, including parks along the coast, in the Columbia River Gorge, southern Oregon, the Cascades and eastern Oregon.

Many of the First Day Hikes will be interpretive presentations focusing on local wildlife, plant species, geology or history. Unique hikes this year include a “bring-your-own-horse” hike/ride that will be led by a ranger on a mule, a wild edibles hike and a “zombie apocalypse” hike focused on outdoor survival skills. Some parks will offer light refreshments or warm drinks to participants at the completion of the event.

For more details on hike specifics, visit bit.ly/OPRDcalendar online and search for “First Day Hikes” under the Events category.

This year, OPRD is asking participants to share photos of their First Day Hike via social media by using the Twitter hashtag #ORfirstdayhikes or tagging “Oregon State Parks” on Facebook. Images can also be emailed to beth.wilson@state.or.us.

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