COLUMBUS — With New Year’s resolutions abounding, there are plenty of opportunities to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors with free admission at Ohio’s 74 state parks.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has several New Year’s Day hikes scheduled and plenty of activities planned throughout the month of January. For a full list, visit our website at parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.
• New Year’s Eve Night Hike at Maumee Bay State Park – Join ODNR for its second annual New Year’s Eve Night Hike at Maumee Bay State Park Nature Center. Meet at the nature center at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and the night hike will go until 9 p.m. We will test our night vision on the boardwalk and celebrate the New Year outdoors in nature. All ages are welcome, make sure to dress for the weather. The address for Maumee Bay State Park is 1400 State Park Road, Oregon 43616. For more information, call 419-836-7758.
• New Year’s Day Hike at Hueston Woods State Park – Join a naturalist for a hike through an old-growth forest from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Meet at the nature center at Hueston Woods State Park at 1 p.m., and then everyone will caravan to the trail head. Hueston Woods State Park is located at 6301 Park Office Road, College Corner 45003. Contact the nature center at 513-524-4250 with any questions.
• First Day Hike at Caesar Creek State Park – Meet the park naturalist at the nature center on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, for a 3-mile guided hike to the park’s new swinging bridge and scenic Horseshoe Falls. Discover wildlife and park history along the way. This event will be held from 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 513-897-3055. Caesar Creek State Park is located at 8570 E. State Route 73, Waynesville 45068.
• New Year’s Day Hike at Salt Fork State Park – Spend New Year’s Day outside at Salt Fork State Park on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Join a naturalist-led hike on Morgan’s Knob Loop trail. Dress for the weather and kick off the New Year in a healthy way. The hike begins at 1 p.m., and people should meet at the trail parking lot. Salt Fork State Park is located at 14755 Cadiz Road, Lore City 43755. For questions, call the park office at 740-439-3521.
• First Day Hike at Shawnee State Park – Begin the New Year with an outdoor experience on this easy 1-mile loop trail through an oak hickory woodland setting with a naturalist. Meet in the lobby of the lodge at Shawnee State Park at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Afterward, warm up in the lodge with some hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies in front of a fireplace surrounded by holiday cheer. The address for the Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center is 4404B State Route 125, West Portsmouth 45663. For questions, contact the state park office at 740-858-6652.
• Winter Hike at Dillon State Park – Meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in the parking lot in front of the naturalist cabin to hike some of the many trails at Dillon State Park, located at 5265 Dillon Hills Drive, Nashport 43830. There will be two guided hikes, with the first hike starting at 10 a.m., and the second hike starting at noon. Both hikes will be 1.5-2 miles long. For more information, contact the park office at 740-453-4377, ext. 100.
• Birds of Winter at Burr Oak State Park – Winter is a great time to identify birds. Participants will search for Ohio winter bird residents from 10 a.m.- noon at Burr Oak State Park on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. People participating should meet in the lodge lobby, bring binoculars and dress warmly. Burr Oak State Park is located at 10220 Burr Oak Lodge Road, Glouster 45732. For questions, contact the state park office at 740-767-3570.
• Explore the Day Hike Trail at Shawnee State Park – Enjoy a 4-mile hike through Shawnee State Forest with one incredible view on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. There will be one 400-foot climb so people should bring their hiking sticks and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Pack snacks and water. Hikers should meet at noon in the lodge lobby at Shawnee State Park, and the hike will last until 3 p.m. The address for the Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center is 4404B State Route 125, West Portsmouth 45663. For questions, contact the state park office at 740-858-6652.
• Fireside Chat: Great Nature Reads at Burr Oak State Park – The naturalist will give some nature-themed book recommendations for both adults and young children on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at Burr Oak State Park at 3:30 p.m. This event will be ongoing by the lodge fireplace, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own recommendations to share. Burr Oak State Park is located at 10220 Burr Oak Lodge Road, Glouster 45732. For questions, contact the state park office at 740-767-3570.
Getting outdoors is an ideal way to relieve stress and boost mood levels. The new Explore Ohio initiative is aimed at encouraging people to exercise outdoors and become healthier in the process, which lines up with New Year’s resolutions made by many Ohio residents for 2017. Participants can track their miles, share their photos and create friends groups on the Explore Ohio website at ExploreOh.com. Whether people are running, hiking, biking, climbing, walking or paddling, Ohioans can keep track of their progress at ExploreOh.com and share their adventures on social media using #ExploreOhio.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.