BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– Dozens of residents were ready to participate in the First Day Hike at Canoe Creek State Park in Hollidaysburg.

First Day Hike is a national initiative made by state parks, and it encourages folks to get outside. It also serves the purpose of getting individuals and families to exercise and connect with nature.

This year’s hike had three trails, which included a self guided trail due to the rise in covid cases. Those trails ranged by the level of difficulty and length. The longest hike was over two miles. Despite muddy slopes from the rain, people were excited and looked forward to the challenge of the trails.

Environmental Education Specialist at Canoe Creek Heidi Mullendore said that the turnout for this year was good despite the effects from the weather and the pandemic.

“You combine the pandemic with a really soggy batch of weather; you never know what you’re going to get,” Mullendore said. “But there are some pretty dedicated people who look forward to coming out for their first-day hike.”

Many of the hikers were members of the Friends of Canoe Creek State Park group. This group holds the mission of helping with maintenance and bringing more families into the park.

In the past, the group helped with providing a playground, campfire, and little libraries. They also hold multiple events at the park. President of the group George Letcher said they’ve been working on the hike for over a decade, and they do all they can to help out.

“The park sponsors the first-day hike, but the Friends at Canoe Creek, we build a fire and furnace hot chocolate, and we help them that way,” Letcher said.

This year, the group was big on looking to recruit more member. Currently, they only have 24 members. Anyone that joins in January gets a chance to win a survival pack.

“What we do as the friends’ group is help people come to the park,” Letcher said. “We want you to join. Just look like you’re donating to the heart association or some association so that we can keep the good things going.”

Mullendore said that the park is grateful the group does so much to benefit the park. Most of the group’s money goes towards improvements for the park and hosting their events.

“Having a friends group really helps,” Mullendore said. “They can do things being a separate organization to bring in money for the park that I could not do. So, it really benefits us to have this group.”

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