This Week: New Year’s Day hikes mark 150th anniversary of state parks

If you’re one of those “up and at ’em” types – as opposed to those who prefer to sleep until noon – you’ll appreciate the array of First Day Hikes that the California state parks system has lined up to ring in the new year.

In the greater Sacramento region, the free and guided New Year’s Day hikes are being offered at the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area in Butte County; the Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lake County; the Auburn State Recreation Area in Placer County; and at Folsom Lake and Folsom Powerhouse in Sacramento County.

Check out www.parks.ca.gov for a link to meet-up times, locations and hike descriptions.

This is the third year that California has participated in First Day Hikes, which drew more than 22,000 participants to hikes throughout the nation last year. The program originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass.

This year, however, the hikes are special for the Golden State. Officials are using the occasion to celebrate the 150th anniversary of state parks in California. In all, the state is offering 38 hikes Wednesday at 31 state parks in California’s deserts, redwoods and coastal regions.

“We want to connect people to their parks and make the First Day Hikes an annual family tradition for our visitors,” said state Parks Director Anthony L. Jackson.

State parks in California got their start in 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation granting the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the state.

– Ken Chavez