Cheap New Year's Day fun: A First Day Hike at a Minnesota state park (or cave)

A First Day Hike is being held in the state's longest cave for the first time.
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Thirteen of Minnesota's state parks are offering (essentially) free guided hikes on New Year's Day – a cheap way for you to kick off that new exercise resolution ASAP, or just to get some fresh air after a late celebration the night before.

It's all part of the First Day Hike program, a nationwide effort by America's State Parks to help people start the new year "outdoors, exercising and connecting with nature." Nearly 55,000 people took part last year.

In Minnesota the hikes are guided, and range from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Five are in the daytime, four are in snowshoes, and three will take place in the evening as "full moon" hikes, the DNR says.

You can see the entire list with times and details here.

Cave tours offered for the first time

One especially cool option – an underground tour of Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park, the longest cave in Minnesota. 

Tours there are usually only offered from April through October, but the cave will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on New Year's Day as part of First Day Hike.

And it'll be a nice, cozy 48 degrees in there, the same temperature it is year-round.

The DNR suggests RSVPing to that one.

Hikes are free but you need a permit, watch for cancellations

The actual guided hikes are free, but you do need a state parks vehicle permit, the DNR says. That's $7 for the day (or $35 if you want a year of access).

Also, it's going to be cold. So dress warm, but in layers so you can shed some as you warm up, the DNR suggests. (A backpack to store extra or unneeded clothes is a smart option, and you can bring a water bottle, snacks, and other items you might want.)

Also, keep an eye out for cancellations. The First Day family hike planned for Blue Mounds State Park has been canceled, with the Star Tribune saying it's because of the cold weather.

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