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Records set locally and statewide for First Day Hikes

145 people ply the trail at Lake Macbride

SOLON– At least 4,358 people participated in “First Day Hikes” in Iowa’s State Parks on New Year’s Day, Wednesday, Jan. 1. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported it was the highest attendance since the start of the annual event in 2012, and coincided with kicking off the Iowa State Park Centennial Year (2020).
At Lake Macbride State Park, near Solon, 145 participants hiked the roughly 2-1/2 mile round trip along the beach-to-dam trail from the main lodge to the dam, a record-setting number. The first year drew roughly 100, with the second year’s event cancelled due to weather. Last year, around 40 souls braved the post-Christmas weather for a hike.
“It’s a good way to start out the New Year and get some exercise and explore our state parks,” said Lake Macbride Park Ranger Nick Rocca. Backbone State Park (near Strawberry Point in Delaware County) was the first in Iowa, having opened on May 28, 1920. Lake Macbride was opened in 1934, Rocca said, noting the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) did much of the construction work in the parks in the early ‘30s. “This is a great way to get people to our state parks, and see what we have to offer,” he said.
Ron Puettmann, the park manager at Lake Macbride, said there will be many events in the state parks this year commemorating the anniversary. All will be posted on the DNR’s website, with local events highlighted in the Economist and Leader.
The third annual Lake Macbride Fat Tire Classic bike ride and race is set for Saturday, Feb. 15, and is presented by Sugar Bottom Bikes and the Solon Centennial Lions Club. For more information on this event contact Sugar Bottom Bikes or go online to https://www.sugarbottombikes.com/lakemacbrideclassic.
In a press release, the DNR’s Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau Chief, Todd Coffelt said, “We couldn’t be more excited to have so many people enjoy state parks on New Year’s Day. We heard many reports of first-time park visitors from Iowa and other states, and we were glad to see long-time park users among the thousands enjoying hikes.” Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines had the highest attendance with 410 hikers, the DNR said. “This is just the first of many outdoor events planned to celebrate the State Park Centennial in 2020, so get ready for a fun year,” Coffelt said.