A handful of hikers attended the third annual free First Day Hikes at Cathedral Gorge State Park New Year’s Day. The first hike of the year was offered

Hikers march through the Cathedral Gorge terrain on New Year’s Day during the third annual free First Day Hike event. (Rachel Williford photo)

A handful of hikers attended the third annual free First Day Hikes at Cathedral Gorge State Park New Year’s Day. The first hike of the year was offered at Spring Valley State Park at 10 a.m., where participants trekked the stone cabin trail, about a mile to a mile and-a-half. The park reported a “great hike,” with Caliente residents Ken and Diane Dixon making the journey. It was led by Park Supervisor Ben Johnson. Not certain of forecast, good weather was reported.

At 11 a.m., Cathedral Gorge offered a hike down the Juniper Draw Trail. The hike went through the dry wash. Hikers made the four-mile journey in an hour and-a-half, passing through the vegetation and Cryptobiotic soil. The ground is alive with lichens, moss, algae, etc., and they create dark, rough surfaces that cover the smooth desert floor. If disturbed, the microcosms can take 100 years to recover.

Park Supervisor Cody Tingey led the group this year, his first time being the “leader,” on the first day hikes.

“I think it’s a great program. I wish we could get more involved,” said Tingey. “Just like any event, we’ll just keep getting the word out and it will grow,” he said.

The first year that Nevada joined the initiative with 48 other states, Lincoln County hosted free hikes on the first new day of the year at Spring Valley State Park and Cathedral Gorge State Park. The second year, hikes were hosted at Cathedral Gorge and Kershaw Ryan State Parks. This year, Spring Valley and Cathedral Gorge hosted the hikes again.

Cathedral Gorge’s location provides a more central area, said Tingey, for our county residents. “Cathedral Gorge offers more forgiving terrain,” said Tingey, for unknown weather. “So we like to  utilize the park.”

State parks in Lincoln County offer so many diverse features, all year long. Tingey said, “So many people don’t realize what they have in their own backyard.”

Annual passes are available again, and for $65, your pass waives all day-use fees in all the state parks in Lincoln and White Pine Counties: Kershaw-Ryan, Beaver Dam, Cathedral Gorge, Spring Valley, Echo Dam, Ward Charcoal Ovens and Cave Lake.

The annual passport allows access to all the state parks in Nevada for $100. Passes are good for day-use only.

Senior Citizen passes are $30 for the year, and it includes all day-use as well as camping overnight activities.

New this year is a Disabled Veteran pass, also $30, that includes overnight camping.

Programs are held at the state parks year round. Visit www.parks.nv.gov to find info for your next visit, or call the Cathedral Gorge Visitor’s Center, 775-728-4460, for more information.