The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced that three Kansas state parks will participate in the America’s State Parks “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day 2012. Each hike will offer individuals and families opportunities to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on the first day of the year.

State park staff and volunteers at El Dorado, Tuttle Creek and Lake Scott state parks will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website .

“I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than hiking through one of our beautiful Kansas state parks,” said Linda Craghead, Assistant Secretary of Parks and Tourism for KDWPT. “Hiking on one of the many maintained state park trails promotes a healthy lifestyle and will undoubtedly unveil a pristine winter landscape with stunning views and wildlife observations.”

For more information on First Day Hikes in Kansas, contact El Dorado State Park, 316-321-7180; Tuttle Creek State Park, 785-539-7941; or Lake Scott State Park, 620-872-2061.

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, however, this is the first time all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

America's State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

The mission of the NASPD and America's State Parks is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.