Start the year off with a ‘First Hike’ at state parks across Arizona

Make plans for your "First Day" hikes at your local Arizona State Park today!
Make plans for your "First Day" hikes at your local Arizona State Park today!(3TV/CBS 5)
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 1:17 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Get ready to strap on your boots and hit the trail with a “First Hike” in 2023!

Arizona State Parks and Trails is inviting everyone to join in on the “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day. State parks are offering educational hikes and more to share thoughts on Arizona’s natural resources, cultures, and more. If you participate on the big day, Jan. 1, 2023, you’ll qualify for the Eight4Two Challenge which encourages anyone interested to hike, bike or walk eight trails in four different state parks to win two free day-use passes. Register here, take a hike, and add it online to your progress.

Approximately 730 million people visit state parks across the U.S. every year and around $23 billion is added to the national economy because of it. If you’re not interested in hiking, there’s always horse riding, photography walks, petroglyph educational trips, boat tours and much more. Always check your local state park website for options. Some trail tours require reservations and as far as pets go, some may or may not allow dogs.

Here in Arizona, there are 30 state parks scattered around the state. A few parks near the Valley include Lost Dutchman State Park, McFarland State Historic Park, Oracle State Park, Picacho Peak State Park, and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. At Lost Dutchman, there will be an 8 a.m. 1.5-mile park trail that will meet up at Saguaro Day Use before the hike. At 9 a.m., there will be a 1.5-mile park trail hike that will also start at Saguaro Day Use. No pets are allowed on the trip, though, so plan ahead.

McFarland visitors can learn tidbits of Arizona’s history with a visit to the park’s museum. At Oracle, bikes and horses are welcome on some select trails. There’s even a portion of the Arizona National Scenic Trail open to hikers. Those looking to hike Picacho Peak have a variety of trails to choose from, including a 0.2-mile hike for the Children’s Cave Trail. Finally, Tonto Natural Bridge hikers can enjoy a fun First Day Hike to see the Transition Zone and famous Tonto Natural Bridge, known as the world’s largest travertine nature bridge. Want to find a park closest to you? Click here.