The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is kicking off a year-long State Parks Centennial 2013 celebration of statewide events, beginning with First Day Hikes on Jan. 1.
Hikers are encouraged to get out and ring in the new year and help State Parks celebrate its 100th birthday, with a bracing hike in any of the 13 parks participating in the program. The event offers participants a chance to start the year off with a healthy hike, “walk off” their holiday feasting and get a taste of the diverse natural resources and recreation opportunities found in state parks all over Washington. The First Day Hikes scheduled as part of the day range from interpretive strolls through Pacific Northwest old-growth forests, snowshoe walks over snowy hillsides in Eastern Washington and family-friendly treks around the waters of Western Washington. The Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to the events.
Hikes offered in Washington state parks include:
• Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island: An easy mile-and-a-half-mile hike runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. beginning at the Marine View Trailhead. Participants will explore the wooded areas of the park and hike along Saratoga Passage, concluding at Cama Center. The hike is open to visitors of all ages and on-leash dogs are welcome.
• Camano Island State Park on Camano Island: A moderate two-and-a-half-mile hike runs from 1 to 3 p.m. beginning at the Bluff Trailhead near the Lowell Point parking area. Participants will transverse the trail between Cama Beach and Camano Island state parks, with the hike ending at Cama Center. The hike is open to participants of all ages. A shuttle is available to return hikers to the Lowell Point parking area.
• Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island: A moderate mile-and-a-half-mile hike runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning at Bowman Bay. Participants will walk along the shore of the Salish Sea at Rosario Beach, then up Rosario Head for views of Deception Island and the Puget Sound. The hike is open to visitors of all ages. There is one steep section of trail that may be difficult for younger children. Participants are asked to leave pets at home.
• Olallie State Park and Iron Horse State Park in North Bend: A moderate three-mile interpretive hike begins at 11 a.m. at the Cedar Falls Trailhead in Iron Horse State Park. Participants will hike to Cedar Butte, crossing into Olallie State Park by way of the old Milwaukee Railroad. Visitors will learn about the Boxley Blowout, a pre-Christmas flood in 1918 that permanently wiped the nearby town of Edgewick out of existence. The hike is open to participants 10 years of age and older. Visitors are asked to leave pets at home.
• Fort Townsend State Park in Port Townsend: An easy hike begins at 1 p.m. in the park’s day-use parking area. Visitors will discover the flora and fauna living at the park in the newly installed Fort Townsend State Park mural by Larry Eilfert before hiking through the dense Olympic Peninsula forest. The hike is open to participants 5 years of age and older (younger children are welcome if carried) and on-leash dogs are allowed.
• Rockport State Park in Concrete: The Deep Forest Experience is a moderate three-and-a-half-mile hike beginning at 10 a.m. in the park’s day-use picnic area. Visitors will walk along the Evergreen Trail and through an old-growth forest so dense minimal sunlight reaches the earth. The hike is open to participants 7 years of age and older and on-leash dogs are welcome.
• Saltwater State Park in Des Moines: A two-part interpretive hike begins at 10 a.m. in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Visitor Center. Part one of the hike is level footing. Visitors will discover the history of the park during the 1930s and learn about native flora found throughout the park. The second part of the hike takes visitors down to the beach area to see other CCC constructed structures. The hike is open to participants 5 years of age and older. Visitors are asked to leave pets at home.
• Wallace Falls State Park in Goldbar: A moderate four-and-a-half-mile hike runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along the Woody Trail, beginning at the Wallace Falls Trailhead. Visitors will see the multiple waterfalls of the Wallace River first-hand and the winter face of the park’s old-growth coniferous forests. The hike is open to participants of all ages and on-leash dogs are allowed.
• Beacon Rock State Park near Vancouver: A moderate two-mile hike runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. up the Beacon Rock Trail, beginning at the trailhead kitchen shelter. Visitors will ascend up the ancient volcano that is Beacon Rock for views of the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding mountains. The hike is open to participants of all ages.
• Lake Sylvia State Park in Montesano: A moderate two-and-a-half-mile hike begins at 1 p.m. at the beach kitchen shelter. Visitors will hike along the Sylvia Creek Discovery Trail, exploring the Chapin Collins Memorial Forest around the perimeter of Lake Sylvia. The hike is open to participants 9 years of age and older. Visitors are asked to leave pets at home.
• Millersylvania State Park in Olympia: The easy five-mile hike begins at 9 a.m. at picnic shelter 1 near Deep Lake. Visitors will hike along the Fitness and Nature Trail through old-growth cedar and fir trees, discovering traces of the park’s logging history along the way. The hike is open to participants of all ages. Participants are asked to leave pets at home.
• Pearrygin Lake State Park in Winthrop: The easy two-and-a-half-mile snowshoe hike and cross-country ski begins at 1 p.m. in the east park office parking lot. The park is normally closed for the season, opening specifically for State Parks Centennial 2013 kickoff celebration on Jan. 1. The hike offers visitors a rare peek of the Methow Valley wilderness in winter. The hike is open to anyone with snowshoes or skis. On-leash dogs are welcome.
• Riverside State Park in Spokane: The hike begins at 1 p.m. at the swinging bridge parking lot in the Bowl and Pitcher Area. Visitors will explore the Bowl and Pitcher River Trail and see the dramatic winter whitewater rapids of the Spokane River framed by Eastern Washington evergreen forests. The hike is open to participants of all ages. On-leash dogs are allowed.
State Parks’ partner and friends groups will provide hot chocolate for hike participants. Hikers are encouraged to pack water and dress according to weather conditions. More information about specific First Day Hikes is available online at www.parks.wa.gov/events.
Established on March 19, 1913, Washington State Parks is one of the oldest and largest park systems in the country. In celebration of the Centennial year, a variety of events will be offered at state parks all year. For ideas about fun events to attend, bookmark the State Parks online events page and check it regularly, as new events are being added all the time. View the events calendar at www.parks.wa.gov/events.
The First Day Hikes program is part of the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes national initiative organized by the National Association of State Park Directors. The nationwide event first started at Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass., more than 20 years ago. The National Association of State Park Directors and America’s State Parks strives to promote and advance the state park systems of American for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy. For more information about hikes across the country, visit www.americasstateparks.org.
Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks, www.twitter.com/WaStatePks_NEWS and www.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the new State Parks’ blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.
The Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. The 99-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
--Information from Washington State Parks