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State hosts First Day Hikes to celebrate new year outdoors

December 25, 2018

SOUTHBURY — Kettletown State Park will be one of about a dozen state parks where people can kick off the new year outside with free guided First Day Hikes.

The hikes will be led through the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and its partners.

First Day Hikes have been offered for more than 25 years. The initiative started at the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Mass., as a way to get people to experience the “natural and cultural treasures” at state parks close to home, according to a ness release.

It has since grown with hikes offered at state parks in every state and is overseen by America’s State Parks.

“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to discover the tranquillity and beauty of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while exploring beautiful public lands in every state.”

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles, though some are longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips about proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website, www.StateParks.org .

The Kettletown hike is a moderate, two-mile trek that starts at 1 p.m. Participants should meet at the trail head for the Miller Trail, which is accessible by taking every right fork from the entrance, 1400 George’s Hill Road. The hike will offer views of a lot of the damage from the tornado in May.

Participants should bring water, snack, sturdy footwear and a sense of adventure. Dogs are allowed if they are on leashes. Call 203-264-9028 to find out if it’s canceled.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our state parks,” said DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee. “Whether you join a guided hike or venture out on your own, you will not be disappointed in the variety of hiking trails that our state has to offer. Connecticut has hundreds of miles of trails appropriate for all age levels to enjoy as we celebrate the first day of 2019.”

Connecticut hikes will be offered at Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, James L. Goodwin Conservation Center in Hampton, Haddam Meadows State Park in Haddam, Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Mansfield Hollow State Park in Mansfield, Peoples State Forest in Barkhamsted, Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, Scantic River State Park in East Windsor and Sessions Woods in Burlington.

Each year more than 9 million people visit Connecticut’s 110 state parks. The park system was established in 1913 with the mission recreational and educational opportunities in the state’s natural, historical and cultural resources.

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