Delaware’s state parks offer self-guided hikes to help residents step into the new year

File photo: Lums Pond State Park in Delaware. (Photo courtesy DE State Parks)

File photo: Lums Pond State Park in Delaware. (Photo courtesy DE State Parks)

Hikers in Delaware and around the country will step off 2023 with the annual First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. State parks personnel have curated 17 self-guided hikes as a guide for those looking to start the new year on a healthy note.

First Day Hikes is a national initiative sponsored by America’s State Parks to promote a healthy 2023 year. It’s both a celebration of fitness and an effort to connect people with the outdoors. According to the America’s State Parks website, programs like this are intended to combat obesity, especially in children.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has offered First Day Hikes since 2014.

On Jan. 1, 2022, more than 50,000 people participated in the nationwide movement.

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“In 2022, more than 900 hikers and 60 dogs participated and hiked a total of more than 2,000 miles in the Delaware state parks,” said Shauna McVey the DNREC Division of Park and Recreation Community Affairs Coordinator.

“Being in nature is healing, and seeing the wildlife, you know, it’s peaceful,” said McVey.

Visitors have the chance to explore the state’s natural beauty, learn about the parks’ history, and run or walk the trails in every state park. Some of those parks include Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park, Brandywine Zoo, and Brandywine Creek State Park.

“Anyone that is interested in history is welcome to go see Fort Miles historical area. They will have a hike that is within Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes,” said McVey. Fort DuPont State Park is another park full of history. It’s “our urban park without boundaries, as we call [it], as it’s a collaboration of history in downtown Dover,” she said.

Each park will have a welcome station where participants can sign in to be counted for the event and get a First Day Hike sticker. According to the Delaware State Parks website, while each park has a different start time, everyone will be offered a send off time when participants can meet with other hikers for a group photo.

Hikers are advised to take a backpack filled with snacks, a camera, a bottle of water, layers that are suited for the weather, a hat, and sunglasses, as well as good hiking shoes.

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