The Iowa DNR and Travel Iowa invite Iowans to participate in the 2021 First Day Hike Challenge to ring in the New Year through the digital State Park Passport. The challenge takes the place of traditional guided hikes due to COVID-19.
Waubonsie State Park-First Day Hike 2021
Suggested Trail: Park in the Overlook Parking lot and hike to the Overlook via the gravel trail. Turn left and hike south past the picnic shelter, paralleling the road. When you reach an abrupt right turn, this is the beginning of Sunset Ridge Trail. Follow this loop to the bench and parking area in the Upper Picnic Area. To return to your vehicle, hike north along the trail that parallels the Upper Picnic Area Road back to the Overlook Parking Lot. 2.25 miles.
As a site on the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, Waubonsie State Park in southwest Iowa is known for its exceptional vistas of Iowa’s unique Loess Hills and the Nebraska plains. Its extensive trail system offers something for the avid mountain biker, equestrians looking for a relaxing ride, or anyone eager to hike amongst the tranquil surroundings of the park’s ridgetop prairies and shaded woodland valleys. With nearly 2,000 acres of recreational opportunity and quiet beauty, Waubonsie State Park is an Iowa gem waiting to be explored.
“We are looking for ways to encourage both outdoor fun and social distancing,” said Todd Coffelt, Bureau Chief of Parks, Forests and Preserves. “First Day Hikes are a popular tradition in state parks, and the passport is a great way for people to enjoy winter hikes on their own or with their families.”
With the First Day Hike Challenge, park visitors can check into any of the more than 50 participating state parks on the passport from Friday, Jan. 1 through the end of Sunday, Jan. 3. Every check-in will qualify for a prize drawing of a 2-night stay at a 2-bedroom cabin at Lake Darling State Park near Brighton. Restrictions will apply on the cabin stay, with reservation fees and other business rules applying.
Visitors can go to as many parks as they wish during the weekend -- every check-in counts as a contest entry. Additionally, visitors will find trail suggestions and directions from park staff under the “More Info” tab for each park entry on the passport.
Last year, more than 4,300 people participated in hikes on New Year’s Day across Iowa. Hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, and experience spectacular views, beautiful settings and the cultural treasures offered by Iowa’s State Parks. Participants should dress for the weather, including warm, sturdy boots for winter conditions.
For more details on First Day Hikes in Iowa’s State Parks, and to find links to sign up for the Parks Passport, visit www.iowadnr.gov/firstdayhikes.