SILVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — People all over the country and in the Pacific Northwest celebrated the New Year by hitting the trail.
More than 30 Oregon State Parks waived their admission fees for First Day Hikes. The parks also offer guided hikes, with rangers and volunteers teaching participants about the geology, plants and animals along the way.
“You get to really explore in depth what we have here at Silver Falls State Park,” Park Ranger Matt Palmquist said.
Silver Falls State Park offered four different hikes Wednesday, each about a mile long.
“These hikes are relatively easy,” Palmquist said. “We really want to show that anyone can do a hike here at Silver Falls and at all of the Oregon State Parks. Everyone is welcome here.”
Toward the beginning of the walk, when the weather was still dry, Palmquist told his group that, while the Willamette Valley gets about 40 inches of rain each year, Silver Falls State Park gets 80 inches. An hour later, it started pouring, but visitors were not discourages and continued packing the viewpoints and trails.
Some other state parks went beyond hiking. For example, Elijah Bristow State Park near Eugene hosted a horseback ride and Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area in Eastern Oregon had a snowshoe outing.
Participants are asked to register online for the First Day Hikes. Some parks have trails that can accommodate bigger groups, but Palmquist said they try to keep the groups at Silver Falls around 30 so everyone has a safe and enjoyable time. Even if you don’t make it into a tour group, parking and park admission is still free.