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First hike at Lake Pueblo State Park

Pleasant weather prompted about 100 people to participate in the First Day Hike at Lake Pueblo State Park.

The movement, sponsored by America’s State Parks, encourages people nationwide to get out and hike on the first day of the year.

This was the first year Pueblo Reservoir participated in the project, and did so in conjunction with the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo.

The walk started below Pueblo Reservoir dam and went approximately three miles along the paved trail to the Nature Center.

Participants could chose to do the three-mile walk and take a shuttle back to the start, or do the round-trip six-mile hike.

“The goal is to start the new year off with a day outside,” said Pueblo Ranger Darcy Mount.

“The weather was great and everybody seemed to love it. We will definitely do it again next year.”

Along the way there were educational stations set up.

Each stop allowed people to learn about different parts of nature, and provided a good break for children and families.

There was the beaver station, since the trail followed many beaver areas, and rangers talked about beaver signs and damage and discussed the importance the animals play in our environment, along with the damage they can cause.

Another station was about skins and skulls, with actual animal pelts and skulls for those native to this area.

The Nature Center put on a station about water insects – a popular subject for fly fishermen in particular in the area – and the final stop included birds of prey from the Raptor Center.

“It made it family friendly, so people could stop and rest if they had kids. We also gave out snacks along the way, oranges, apples, granola bars,” Mount said.

“We had a lot of strollers and dogs on leashes. A lot of little hikers, which is awesome. I think the education programs really broke it up for he kids, gave them a goal to go another mile.”

First Hike Days take place in many states, and conditions can vary.

In some places in Colorado (and others), Mount said they do a “First Shoe” for snowshoeing, or a first cross-country ski.

Because Pueblo is in the banana belt, Mount said the decision was made to plan for the walk, and thankfully the weather cooperated beautifully.

“Having the partnership with the Nature Center definitely helped us,” Mount said.

“It’s a straight shot (down the path) for us, so it was logical. And we both had resources we could pool together and shared volunteer work and everything. It worked out great!”

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