Petit Jean State Park will sponsor free, guided hikes 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 Jan. 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.

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks.

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.

America’s State Parks boasts 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 and 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. Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website. Visit www.americasstateparks.org to find a First Day Hike nearest you.

At Petit Jean State Park, hikes will be offered at the following locations and times:

Tuesday, Jan. 1

8:30 a.m.

Birds of Seven Hollows Hike: Meet park interpreter Rachel at the Seven Hollows trailhead to look for woodpeckers and other birds. Please wear comfortable shoes, bring water to drink and bring binoculars if you have them. This slow-paced hike will last about 45 minutes.

10:30 a.m.

A Hike Through the Ages: Meet park interpreter Rachel at the Breezeway of Mather Lodge for a fairly easy hike to the Cedar Falls Overlook. Along the way, you will explore highlights of the history of Petit Jean State Park, from the distant past to the present day. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring along some water. This program will last about 45 minutes to one hour.

1 p.m.

Taking Care of the Trail to Bear Cave: Meet the park interpreters at the Breezeway of Mather Lodge to see how they work to maintain the park’s hiking trails. They will be hiking along the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Boy Scout Trail, then joining up with the Bear Cave Trail. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water.

3:30 p.m.

Rim Trail Hike: Meet Park Interpreter BT at the Rock House Cave parking area to hike one of the most scenic sections of the Boy Scout Trail. They will be hiking along the rim of Cedar Creek Canyon. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water.

These hikes are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, contact the park at 501-727-5441 or by email at petitjean@arkansas.com. You may also visit the park’s website at www.petitjeanstatepark.com.