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State Parks offers First Day Hikes in Hatcher Pass, Delta Junction and Homer


(Anchorage, AK) – Alaska State Parks is sponsoring three First Day Hike events around the state to encourage families to get out into their local State Park areas during the winter, and to start the New Year with fun and healthy activities. These events are inspired by a national First Day Hike initiative to unite people and their state parks in all 50 states. The events will take place in Hatcher Pass, near Palmer, Delta Junction, and Homer, on January 1, 2014.

Independence Mine State Historical Park: Alaska State Parks is sponsoring a staff-led “First Day” family classic skiing event at Independence Mine State Historical Park on New Year’s Day.  This guided trip will begin at 11 a.m. on Jan. 1 at the Independence Bowl parking area, located at Mile 17.8 of the Palmer-Fishhook Road in Hatcher Pass, north of Palmer. The trip distance is two to three miles and this outing is appropriate for all skiers capable of controlling their classic skis using snowplow and herringbone techniques on gentle inclines. The $5 parking fee at Independence Mine State Historical Park will be waived on New Year’s Day. After the hike, enjoy a tour of the historic buildings and a cup of hot chocolate at the visitor center. Please leave your four-legged buddies at home, but bring a friend! For more information, contact the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Ranger Amy O’Connor, 907-745-8943, amy.oconnor@alaska.gov; for directions to the park, please visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/.

Delta Junction: It’s the darkest time of year, so come join the Delta Nordic Ski Trail Club’s "Walk of Light" in Delta Junction, Alaska, on New Year’s Day. There will be cookies, hot chocolate, and a best "lit up" costume contest (think battery-powered Christmas lights and headlamps). Meet at 2:45 p.m. at the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum, located at 266 Richardson Hwy in downtown Delta Junction. If you want to, bring ice candles to help light up the easy, half-mile walk to the State Parks office for refreshments. After the walk back to the Roadhouse, there will be a fire ring and Chinese lanterns, as well as prizes for the best costumes. Family pets are welcome. See you there! For more information, contact the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Northern Region, Brooks Ludwig, 907-451-2698, brooks.ludwig@alaska.gov, or Mindy Eggleston, 907-322-4644, mde@alaska.net.

Homer: Get out those snowshoes and join the Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park and the Kachemak Bay State Parks Citizens Advisory Board for a hike to Eveline State Recreation Site near Homer on New Year’s Day. The group will gather at 2 p.m. at the McNeil Firehall/Community Center, located at Mile 12 of the East End Road. Participants will ski or snowshoe to Eveline State Recreation Site. Explore the loop-trails and return on the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club trails to the McNeil Firehall where you can enjoy hot drinks, snacks, and a very special sneak preview of the Backcountry Film Festival (which will occur Feb. 20 in Homer). No pets, please. For more information, contact Willy Dunne, 907-299-6226, wdunne907@gmail.com.

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