For many people, a new year is the time for making resolutions. Frequently, those resolutions involve making a pledge to become healthier. With that sentiment in mind, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages residents to kick off 2017 by bringing Michigan’s great outdoors into the mix.
The DNR, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Recreation and Park Association are joining together to encourage residents to shift their New Year’s resolutions into high gear at “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes taking place Dec. 31-Jan. 8 at several Michigan state parks and recreation areas.
“There are countless benefits to using Michigan’s great outdoors as your gym,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “People tend to work out longer, enjoy their workout more, and burn more calories by exercising outside, while enjoying the beauty of our state.”
All “Shoe Year’s Day” hikes are free; however, a Recreation Passport is required for any vehicle entering a Michigan state park or recreation areas. Snowshoes will be available to rent at most locations.
According to Olson, the Recreation Passport is a great value and may be the most affordable gym membership available. The annual pass costs residents $11 for vehicle access to 103 state parks and 138 state forest campgrounds, as well as parking for hundreds of trails and staffed boat launches.
The following Shoe Year’s guided hikes are scheduled:
Maybury State Park (Wayne County) Dec. 31 at 10 a.m.
Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County) Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.
Waterloo Recreation Area (Jackson County) Jan. 1 at 11 a.m.
Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County) Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.
Ludington State Park (Mason County) Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.
Rockport Recreation Area (Alpena County) Jan. 7 at noon
Sleeper State Park (Huron County) Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.
Straits State Park (Cheboygan County) Jan. 7 at 5 p.m.
Mitchell State Park (Wexford County) Jan. 8 at 1 p.m.
If you can’t make it to one of the fun events going on across the state, you can still take advantage of Michigan’s parks, trails and waterways on your own time by visiting a Michigan state park or recreation area, the Iron Belle Trail or the more than 12,500 miles of state-designated trails.
Michigan is part of the nationwide First Day Hikes program coordinated by the National Association of State Park Directors. They were inspired by the First Day Hikes that originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 55,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 133,000 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country.
Visit www.michigan.gov/shoeyearhikes to view the calendar of events.