Maine Government News
Four Maine State Parks Will Feature Guided 'First Day' Hikes
December 24, 2012
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
AUGUSTA – Last year, more than 230 Mainers came out on New Year’s Day for short, guided hikes in four state parks. Park officials hope for an even stronger turnout this January 1, when guided hikes will take place at Sebago Lake State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and Aroostook State Park.
“A healthy lifestyle for 2013 could perhaps start with a brisk outdoor hike in one of Maine’s outstanding state parks,” noted Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF).
“First Day Hikes is a national initiative through a group called America’s State Parks, with participation by all the State park systems in the country,” said Will Harris, Director of the Parks and Public Lands Division of the ACF Department. “Last New Year’s Day, there were some 400 outings across the country. This year, more than 600 are planned. It’s growing quickly.”
In Maine, the four First Day Hikes range from less than half a mile to 1.5 miles. Parks and Public Lands staffers will lead the outings and interpret the features of the surrounding natural habitat. All four trails are rated as easy or moderate hikes. Admission to the parks is free for participants and there is no charge for the guided hikes.
“This is a great way to start the New Year by getting out and enjoying some of the best of what Maine has to offer,” Harris said. “We hope it will encourage folks to continue to visit our parks all year long.”
Here are some basics on Maine’s First Day Hikes:
*Sebago Lake State Park (Naples) – The 1.5 mile hike begins at 10:30 a.m., starting at park headquarters at 11 Park Access Road. The degree of difficulty is rated moderate. An adult must accompany children, and dogs must be leashed. This hike will offer views of the Songo River, and guides will discuss the mixed woodland habitat and the geologic history of the park. Park contact number: (207-) 693-6231.
*Popham Beach State Park (Phippsburg) – This one-mile hike, rated as easy, begins at 9:30 a.m. and lasts about an hour. Adults must accompany children, but all ages are welcome. Hikers will explore the beach during the first low tide of the New Year. Hike leaders have created a “beach bingo” game so participants can “rove between our series of beach stations and learn about the creatures of the intertidal zone.” Hikers at this popular park also will learn about the ever-changing beach and dunes and the natural dynamics that form, destroy and remake them. Park contact number: (207-) 389-1335.
*Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park (Freeport) – This is the shortest of Maine’s First Days hikes, just one-third of a mile. Participants will meet at the picnic shelter by the second parking lot. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and all ages are welcome, but dogs are not suitable for this guided walk. This hike provides views of Casco Bay along the way and discussion about how the plants and animals in the park survive the winter. Park contact number: (207-) 865-4465.
*Aroostook State Park (Presque Isle) – This easy to moderate 1.5-mile hike begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m. Hikers will meet at the main parking lot. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash at all times and are allowed on snowshoe trails but not on ski trails. Event organizers advise bringing snowshoes and cross country skis if there is enough snow to use them. The hike is planned as a woods tour through a typical northern Maine forest, with opportunities to see many types of birds and animal tracks. Park contact number: (207-) 768-8341. ###