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Portlanders don't have to travel far to find free hikes

Whether you’re fulfilling a New Year’s resolution or just eager to get out there, here are some free local hikes worth checking out at Oregon State Parks.

ESTACADA, Ore. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we head to Milo McIver State Park for more on Oregon State Parks' "First Day Hikes." This park is off the beaten path, but not too far to drive, making it a great destination any time of year.

The calendar is creeping toward 2023 — time for you to set your New Year’s resolution. Or not! No matter what you decide, Oregon State Parks encourages you to explore the great outdoors.

“We really encourage people to get out and see what is in their backyard,” said Brandon Whiteman. “Get out and start with small steps.”

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

Whiteman is a park ranger at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, just a 45-minute drive from Portland. The park was dedicated in 1968 and rubs elbows with the Clackamas River, which is really roaring now thanks to recent rains.

“The park is unique — it has two different day use areas as well as a campground. There's the Riverside day use area and the Riverbend day use area,” Whiteman said.

He hopes you’ll start the new year on the right foot thanks to Oregon State Parks’ First Day Hikes, happening on Jan. 1 all across the state.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

Whiteman will be leading a 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. hike on the Dog Creek Trail Loop.

“It should only take about an hour depending on how excited people are and where they want to stop and what they want to check out. It all depends on, you know, how many people they have, but it's gonna be a great time,” he said.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

Whiteman leads the educational programs at Milo McIver State Park and loves it when he gets a chance to teach kids about nature.

The hike will pass a 512-year-old Pacific Yew tree, the oldest in the country. You’ll then catch a peek at the Clackamas River and learn about things like salmon migration and how to spot the differences between deciduous and conifer trees. The guided hike ends at the neighboring Clackamas Fish Hatchery operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“I hope that people have a chance to get out and see this beautiful park that I hold so dear to my heart, and I think many do,” Whiteman said.

Check stateparks.oregon.gov to find a state park near you and if there are any First Day Hikes. Day use parking fees are waived statewide on Jan. 1, so there’s really no excuse to find somewhere new to explore that’s close by.

“My goal is to make sure people experience nature to the fullest,” said Whiteman. “This isn't my park or Milo's park. It's not even Oregon State’s park. It's your park.”

For more information on First Day Hikes, visit Oregon State Parks' calendar of events.

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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