'First Day Hikes' offered at Sinks, Boysen, South Pass City site

Dec 29, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Fremont County residents have three state parks to choose from when considering a guided New Year's Day hike this year.

Boysen State Park, Sinks Canyon State Park and the South Pass City State Historic Site all are participating in the free First Day Hikes initiative, which has been ongoing through Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails for the past six years.

"We want to let people know what we have in our state parks as far as hiking and other activities there are to do so close to where we live," Sinks Canyon superintendent Jamie Simonson said, explaining the reasoning behind the events. "We like to have everybody to utilize their local state parks."

He will be leading the hike in Sinks Canyon, which begins at 1 p.m. Monday at the Nature Trail parking lot in the Popo Agie Campground about three-quarters of a mile past the visitor's center on the left hand side of the canyon.

Simonson said his hikers will cross the swinging bridge that spans the Popo Agie River then, depending on weather conditions, take a left to traverse the one-mile Nature Trail, or head right to hit the three-mile Canyon Loop Trail. Whichever way they go, Simonson said attendees will have the opportunity to "see Sinks Canyon at its best in the winter."

"It's just beautiful up here right now," he said Thursday.

Participants also will learn about the area and the habitat it provides to local wildlife.

"It's just a great time to get out (and) maybe work off some of the Christmas dinner and treats you had," he said. "Or maybe you made New Year's resolution (to) get outside more. ... It's a good time to get started on the first day of the year."

Anyone who doesn't make it to the hike has plenty of other options to explore Sinks Canyon throughout the winter, Simonson added, mentioning heated yurts for overnight excursions, fat biking and snowmobiling trails and animal viewing, among other activities.

For more information call 332-6333.

South Pass City

Those who venture out to South Pass City on Monday will get the chance to tromp on a trail never before open to the public.

Collections manager Susan Layman said hikers will meet at 11 a.m. Monday at the Dance Hall, 125 Main Street in South Pass City, next to the parking lot. From there, they will head up Hermit Creek while curator Jon Lane describes the history of mining in the area.

"This will be the first public tour of Hermit Creek - it's a new trail we're going to really open this summer," she said. "So it will be the first time anyone has walked that or heard the history."

The information will cover the Gold Rush Era of 1868-1869, she said, when stamp mills and arrastras were used to crush ore near Hermit Creek.

From there, Layman said hikers will walk the historic South Pass-Atlantic City Toll Road to a spot just pass the Mill Pond, where Friends of South Pass will furnish participants with hot dogs and marshmallows to roast over a fire. Then they'll turn around and head back to the Dance Hall; the hike will cover 2.5 miles at most.

This is only the second year South Pass City has been part of the First Day Hikes events, and Layman said they are looking forward to the excursion.

"We're really excited about it," she said. "We think it's a good family event, and it gets people to kind of see the mountain in a different way."

Most people come to South Pass City in the summer, she explained, but residents who lived there historically stayed all year long - just like the staff do now.

"You (may) find out something a little different than maybe during our summer tours," Layman said. "(It's) a chance to get out and experience new things on the site."

There are 30 historic log, frame and stone buildings that remain on 39 acres of land in South Pass City. For more information call 332-3684.


A one-mile hike through moderate-to-difficult terrain will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at Boysen State Park. The event starts and ends at Park Headquarters, 120 Boysen Drive, where hot chocolate and refreshments will be served. Organizers say the goal is to walk to the park's web camera, allowing guests to enjoy views the public rarely gets to see.

"There is nothing more rejuvenating than sharing a brisk hike with Wyoming State Park staff in some of the most amazing parks and historic sites in the country," State Parks administrator Domenic Bravo said in a press release this month.

For more information about the Boysen hike call 876-2796.

Participants of all hikes in area state parks are urged to wear adequate clothing. Dogs on leashes are permitted at all of the First Day Hikes in Fremont County, which are described as "kid and family friendly events."

Thirteen other New Year's Day guided hikes and walks will be held at state park and historic site venues statewide in conjunction with similar hikes held in all 50 states a part of the America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.

Last year, officials said, more than 500 people participated, hiking more than 700 total miles. For more information call 777-6323.

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