Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:57PM - 211 Views

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New Year's Day is usually a time for munching on holiday leftovers and watching football, but this year some will leave the cozy indoors to participate in a guided hike or other outdoor activity at area state parks.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources is offering First Day Hikes in 18 of the 120 Pennsylvania state parks to give residents the opportunity to spend New Year's Day outside and enjoy nature's beauty. Three are in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Terry Brady, the Pennsylvania DCNR deputy press secretary, said DCNR doesn't count the number of people who attend, but the turnout has been high since the hikes were first offered in 2011.

The last two years have been really well received, said Brady. Last year we had offered hikes at 12 state parks and this year it was bumped up to almost 20.

First Day Hikes in the area include Lackawanna State Park in North Abington Township, Nescopeck in Drums and the Promised Land in Pike County. Brady said each of the locations is scheduled to offer a hike, but the activity may change based on the weather.

It's very weather-dependent. We might switch hikes around the lake to snowshoeing, said Brady.

The hikes will be led by state park staff and other volunteers. Most of the hikes are less than two miles, but the distance will vary depending on the park and its terrain. While the hikes were designed to get people out of the house, they will also encourage hikers to begin the New Year on a healthy note.

Nationwide, First Day Hikes have become a phenomenon. More than 14,000 people hiked more than 30,000 miles last year. The hikes, which were originated in Massachusetts by the National Association of Park Directors, have been taking place for 20 years.

On the first day of 2013, children and adults will have the chance to hike in more than 400 parks across the United States.

Interested in going?

• Lackawanna State Park: Meet at Environmental Learning Center for two-hour hike to begin at 1 p.m. Call 570- 945-3289.

• Nescopeck State Park: Meet at park office. Hike from 1:30-3:30 p.m. 570-403-2006

• Promised Land: Meet at main office. Hike from 1-3 p.m. 570-676-3428.

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