PORTER | Some 30 hikers at Indiana Dunes State Park hit the snowy trails on New Year’s Day morning as part of a statewide and national initiative, America’s State Parks First Day Hikes.
Last year, more than 14,000 people across the nation logged in excess of 30,000 miles. Doug Stukey, assistant property manager at Indiana Dunes State Park, said about 50 people participated at the park last year.
Indiana Dunes State Park was one of 23 state parks in Indiana and 500 state parks across the country taking part in the second annual event.
“The Department of Natural Resources is trying to promote this real heavily and so we are happy to do it again this year,” Stuckey said.
Susan Collins, of Chesterton, said she came out last year and was ready to hit the trails again this year.
“I like that there is something to do on Jan. 1. I love the Dunes and I’m a morning person, so this is a perfect event for me,” Collins said.
Stukey told the group that 3.2 inches of snow had fallen overnight and that he had chosen trails seven and four to trek since they would give participants a beautiful view of the lake.
“A couple miles of ice came in on the lake last night, and the old ice went out, so the ice we have now has no snow on it, although the ice changes from hour to hour so who knows what we’ll see,” he said.
The snow-covered ice was visible along the horizon as the jagged and eerie forms moved slowly in the frigid air and hikers clad from head to toe in warm clothes traipsed through the freshly fallen snow.
“I do a lot of hiking in the area and thought this would be a healthy way to ring in the new year with my sister,” said Tracey Stevens, of Porter.
“Getting outdoors and connecting to the natural world is one great way to relieve the stress of work and school and relax in the quiet calm of these wonderful natural settings. We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine,” said Phil McKnelly, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors.