Start 2012 on the right foot with a First Day Hike in a Maine state park

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Take a free guided hike in one of Maine's state parks on New Year's DayMaine’s State Parks are offering four, free, First Day Hikes, each led by park staff, on Sunday, Jan. 1: Aroostook, Cobscook Bay, Wolfe’s Neck Woods, and Popham Beach. Each hike will focus on the park’s natural landscape.

Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle, 8-11 a.m. 

Park Manager Scott Thompson will focus on “Stories in the Snow,” discussing park history, hike etiquette, animal track identification and winter habitats. Snowshoe rentals ($5/day) are available with advance reservation, call 207-763-8341. Park facilities open free of charge include groomed, classical cross-country trails, sliding hill, and a warming lodge, where hot drinks, water, and snacks will be available.

Cobscook Bay State Park, Edmunds Township, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Park Manager Matt McGuire will present “A Cobscook Shore Walk,” discussing coastal ecology, natural history and wildlife. Snowshoe rentals ($5/day) are available with advance reservation, call 207-726-4412. Park facilities open free of charge include groomed ski trails; hot drinks, water, and snacks will be available.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport, 2-3 p.m.

Park Manager Andy Hutchinson, a well-known Maine naturalist, will discuss “Winter in the Woods,” focusing on the ways that plants and animals survive in winter, as well as identification of animal tracks and signs. Free snowshoe rentals (courtesy of L.L. Bean) are available with advance reservation (40 pairs available), call 207-865-4465.

Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Jocelyn Hubbell, BPL interpretive specialist and an avid winter-time beach walker, will offer “The Gifts of the Sea”; hikers will experience the first low tide of the New Year and learn about beach and dune dynamics at one of Maine’s most popular parks. FMI 207-389-1335.