By Steven Bonifazi / NewsBreak Denver
(DENVER, Colo.) Coloradans statewide are invited to take part in kicking off 2022 this Saturday by hiking in state parks and experiencing the state's natural beauty.
In the tradition of First Day Hikes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) are offering self-guided hikes, scavenger hunts or limited capacity guided hikes as a way to provide the chance to exercise in nature on the first day of the new year. Hikes on First Day Hikes are free as long as visitors have a valid parks pass, with participating parks potentially requiring a reservation before the hike.
There is no shortage of featured hikes across the state on Saturday.
Near Denver, Barr Lake State Park will hold a hike from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., offering views of all types of wildlife including bald eagles. There will be spotting scopes set up to be utilized during the hikes in addition to beverages, kids crafts and giveaways.
Just outside of Denver, Staunton State Park will hold a somewhat challenging First Day Hike from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., featuring a summit loop around the famous landmark, Lions Head. This hike will be an opportunity to enjoy the Lions Head Trail as it is closed from the middle of March to the end of July.
The hike will be roughly 10 miles although it could be shortened due to weather and trail conditions and will begin at Scout Line and connect to Marmot Passage for a view of Mt Evans and the Divide. Children ages 12 and younger are not permitted on this hike unless they have backcountry experience, however, pets with leashes are allowed.
Twenty miles south of Denver, Roxborough State Park will hold a 6.3-mile roundtrip Carpenter Peak Hike Saturday starting at 9 a.m. featuring naturalists Paul Bleau and Dave Thomas. Hikers can experience the 360-degree view of Downtown Denver to Pike National Forest from the 7,175 feet summit while enjoying lunch.
Just west of Colorado Springs, Muller State Park will host a Hike Elk Meadow to Murphy's Cut from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. through forest and meadow in addition to the site of an old railroad bed called Murphy's Cut. The 4-mile hike will be led by volunteer naturalist Cindi and spikes or snowshoes are encouraged.
Volunteer naturalist Hannah will guide a 2.5-mile Hike Preacher's Hollow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a moderate skill level due to a few hills.
Reaching west of the Mile High City and near the Utah border, Highline Lake State Park will offer hikers a historic hike from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate CPW's 125th anniversary. The hike will begin at the Visitor Center and will span across the 3-mile Highland Lake Trail.
The first 50 visitors who complete the hike will be awarded prizes, while all hikers who fill out their passports with all 8 stamps will have a chance to be entered into a grand prize drawing of an Annual Parks Pass.
Each hike will have different skill levels and lengths based on the location and weather conditions. CPW is encouraging visitors to abide by and practice Care for Colorado - Leave No Trace principles in addition to the COVID dial and Public Health Orders in each county by recreating only with one's household, keeping social distance from others, wearing face masks, washing hands often and sanitizing and packing out all trash.