First day hikes will take place at 14 Minnesota state parks on Monday, Jan. 1, as part of a nationwide effort, led by America’s state parks, to promote starting the new year with fresh air and physical activity. More than 400 hikes are scheduled in all 50 states.
Minnesota’s events include five daytime hikes, four snowshoe hikes, three full moon hikes. First day hikes are free.
This year, for the first time, there’s an underground option too: Guided tours of the cave at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park will take place hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Discovered in 1937, Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota, spanning more than 13 miles underground. Typically, public cave tours are offered only between April and October. During the summer months, visitors often find the cave a cool and refreshing escape from the heat. In the winter, it will be the opposite. People will be able to come in from the cold weather to warm up, because the air temperature in Mystery Cave stays at a constant 48 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Reservations for the cave tours are recommended, but tours also will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis, if space is available. For information about tour prices and to make reservations, visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757.
People should dress for the weather, so ideally in layers that can shed when they warm up as they get moving. They may also want to bring a light backpack to store a water bottle, a nutritious snack, binoculars, a camera, and those extra layers of clothing.
All First Day Hikes are free, but you will need a vehicle permit to enter the park ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit).
MnDNR Events Calendar – 01/01/18
- Itasca State Park – First Day Hike: A Backcountry Exploration
- Minneopa State Park – First Day Hike
- Tettegouche State Park – First Day Hike
- Mille Lacs Kathio State Park – Day Hike: Snowshoeing for Beginners
- Sakatah Lake State Park – First Day Hike
- Whitewater State Park – First Day Hike
- Lake Carlos State Park – First Day Hike: Full Moon Walk
- Jay Cooke State Park – First Day Snowshoe Hike
- Jay Cooke State Park – First Day, First Full Moon Hike
- Lake Bemidji State Park – First Day Snowshoe
- Afton State Park – First Day, First Full Moon Hike
- Blue Mounds State Park – Day Family Hike
- Forestville Mystery Cave State Park – Day Hikes Scenic Cave Tours
- Wild River State Park – First Day Hike/Snowshoe