More than 80 people attended a First Day Hike at Preparation Canyon State Park on New Year’s Day.

Hikers met at the entrance to Preparation Canyon State Park and hiked through the adjacent Loess Hills State Forest (Preparation Canyon Unit), totaling approximately four miles through woods, fields, and prairies.

After the hike, many participants regrouped at the Brent S. Olson Memorial Visitor Center in Pisgah for food and drinks donated by the Friends of the Loess Hills State Forest and Preparation Canyon State Park.

First Day Hikes take place at state parks across Iowa and in other states, but this was the first such hike at Preparation Canyon. This year’s hikes are especially noteworthy, as 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Iowa State Parks system. This year’s hikes broke attendance records across the state.

The Preparation Canyon hike was held in partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Friends group, with support from Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development. The Friends group is dedicated to improving the Loess Hills State Forest and Preparation Canyon State Park through volunteering, fundraising, and other support.

The State Forest and State Park are public conservation and recreation areas located along the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway in Harrison and Monona counties. Both are owned and managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The Friends group is a volunteer organization led by local supporters. Friends group meetings and events are open to the public and the group always welcomes new members and volunteers. Their next meeting is Friday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m., at the Brent S. Olson Memorial Visitor Center in Pisgah.

More information about the Friends group can be found at goldenhillsrcd.org/lhsf and facebook.com/loesshillsfriends.

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