First Day Hike!

Views and color are always a welcomed site.
Views and color are always a welcomed site.

This is a share from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Explorations for Early Learners Blog… I challenge each of us (that includes yours truly, too) to set a realistic, albeit a bit challenging, goal of getting outside every set amount of time in 2016… choose whether it is just you will spend time outside, your family, you and young children in your care… you and your co-workers, maybe just you and a significant person in your life. Write it down, journal about your experience, what do you notice?

Iowa State Parks Celebrates the New Year with First Day Hikes

Iowa State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes in 17 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1 at a state park close to home. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks. First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks,” said Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.

“Last year, we hosted a record-breaking 41,000 people who hiked 72,442 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes,” said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle, for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

Iowa’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.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” stated Lewis Ledford, NASPD’s executive director. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

Staff and volunteers will lead First Day Hikes in Iowa’s 17 participating state parks. Hikes will average one to two miles or longer depending on the location. Details about the hikes can be found at and to see a comprehensive map of First Day Hikes across the country, visit

Iowa First Day Hikes will take place at the following 17 state parks:

NORTHWESTGitchie Manitou State Preserve
Stone State Park
Dolliver Memorial State Park
Brushy Creek State Recreation Area
Ledges State Park
Springbrook State Park

Wilson Island State Recreation Area
Green Valley State Park
Waubonsie State Park

Walnut Woods State Park
Honey Creek State Park
Honey Creek Resort
Lake Darling State Park

Backbone State Park
Mines of Spain State Recreation Area
Pikes Peak State Park
Yellow River State Forest

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.

Musings from Murgatroyd by Linette Bernard
Murgatroyd is a family surname from England and has absolutely nothing to do with early childhood. The saying ‘heavens to Murgatroyd’ was one I remember my father saying, as well as ‘musings from Murgatroyd’ often were at the top of handwritten letters to me during and after college. From time to time more musings just may bubble to the surface to be shared.