SALT LAKE CITY — Looking for a beautiful and invigorating way to start the New Year? Kick off 2016 with a family-friendly hike in a Utah State Park near you.
Once again, Utah State Parks is joining the First Day Hikes initiative by hosting six extraordinary New Years Day adventures across the state.
Antelope Island State Park
Those choosing to journey to Antelope Island State Park for the Beacon Hill hike will venture out with a park ranger to learn about wildlife and the history of the island in the middle of a remnant of an ancient sea. The 5-mile moderate hike leads to a stunning overlook featuring the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Front.
The hike starts at 10 a.m., and hikers are to meet at the Gravel Pit Trailhead. Well-behaved dogs on a 6-foot leash are welcome but must do well with large groups and other dogs. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather: closed-toe shoes are a must. For more information and to check for last minute weather cancellations, call 801-773-2941.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
With shifting dunes and adventure in the air, hikers spending their New Year at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park will follow GPS coordinates to ancient ponderosa pines growing out of the coral sand. Rangers will explain the history surrounding the trees stretching back to when they were seedlings. The 2-mile hike is moderate, and leashed dogs are welcome to join in on the fun.
Meet up with rangers and other hikers at the Park Visitor Center. Don’t forget to dress appropriately, bring a snack and pack a camera for snapshots of family, friends and the stunning landscape. For more information and to check for weather cancellations, call 435-648-2800.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Featuring red sandstone areas dotted with Swiss cheese-like holes, the Big Horn Overlook hike leads to one of the most amazing views in Utah. While the trail is uneven and can have snowy and icy patches in winter, those who make the hike are rewarded with the breathtaking scenery.
The hike begins at 12:45 p.m. at the Park Visitor Center. It is a moderate 2.5-mile trail where leashed dogs are welcome. Bring plenty of water for yourself and your pet, as well as snack if needed, and start 2016 off right. To check for weather cancellations, call 435-259-2614.
Red Fleet State Park
If starting off 2016 walking along a trail featuring over 200 dinosaur tracks sounds appealing, then the Dinosaur Track Hike is for you. There are few better ways to spring into the New Year than walking with the footsteps of giants while gazing at natural features set in red and gold sandstone.
The park manager will be the hiking guide and, should conditions turn snowy, be sure to bring snow shoes for a one-of-a-kind winter adventure.
Meet-up is for the hike is at 9 a.m. at the Dinosaur Trackway Trailhead. Leashed, well-behaved dogs are allowed, and remember to bring water, snacks, a camera and snow shoes if the weather requires. For more information or weather cancellations, call the office at 435-789-4432 or the cell phone at 435-671-6584.
Snow Canyon State Park
Red, wind-swept sand dunes frozen in time are the main attraction on the Petrified Dunes Hike. Hike along and listen as an interpretive ranger explains the fascinating geology of the area while gazing out at the stunning landscape.
Hikers meet at 9 a.m. in the Upper Galoot Picnic area for this moderate 2-mile hike. No pets are allowed at this event, but be sure to wear appropriate shoes and clothing. Don’t forget your water and camera; it’s gorgeous out there. For weather cancellations and more information, call 435-628-2255.
Willard Bay State Park
If you’re headed here for your New Year, keep an eye out for bald eagles. Stop by the Eagle Beach Group Pavilion at noon for an easy 1-mile hike along the Linda C. Higley Nature Trail.
Walk along with an interpretive ranger and keep an eye out for bald eagles and other wildlife.
Well-behaved dogs are allowed to trek along with you as long as they are on a leash.
Don’t forget to bring snacks, binoculars and the camera for some wildlife snapshots. For weather cancellations or additional information, call 435-734-9494 or check out the Willard Bay Facebook page.
For more information on these and other Utah State Parks, go online.