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Photo: Jason Farmer, License: N/A, Created: 2019:01:01 13:12:34

Angela Lambert, environmental education specialist at Lackawanna State Park, leads a group of hikers through the pedestrian tunnel.

Photo: Jason Farmer, License: N/A, Created: 2019:01:01 13:09:37

Hikers make their way down a hill at Lackawanna State Park.

NORTH ABINGTON TWP. — Linda Umerich’s New Year’s resolution is to spend more time outdoors, and 13 hours into the new year, she joined about 80 people for a hike through Lackawanna State Park.

Clad in hiking boots and waterproof jackets, hikers of all ages — and even a few dogs — set off on New Year’s Day for a 2.2-mile guided afternoon hike for Lackawanna State Park’s First Day Hike, joining hikers across the country for the growing tradition of hiking at state parks on Jan. 1.

Accompanied by her husband, Mike, Umerich said the first day hike is a good way to get people to come out to local trails.

“It’s encouraging for people to try it and see if it’s something that they would like,” she said.

Brenda Spangenberg hikes at the park “almost every day,” but Tuesday was her inaugural First Day Hike.

“I thought there would be about four people here,” she said, adding that she wondered if she was at the right location when she saw the large crowd. “I can’t get over it. It just shows all of the people that are interested in fitness and the environment.”

This year was the park’s largest turnout in the six or so years that it’s been doing the hike, said park environmental education specialist Angela Lambert.

“It was great to see the enthusiasm for folks to get out and enjoy what we have to offer through our state park system,” she said, attributing the large turnout to Tuesday’s warm weather.

The hike even took participants through the park’s new tunnel trail — a trail aptly named for a tunnel underneath Route 407 that hikers walk through. This year, the hike also included a winter woods bingo that tasked hikers with identifying different plants and wildlife, Lambert said.

Last year’s nearly record-breaking low temperatures didn’t stop Gail Sickles from going on the First Day Hike at the park, but this year was certainly warmer, she said. Sickles went on the muddy trek with her husband, Bill, and Harper, a 4 1/2-month-old Labrador mix that the couple is fostering.

“It’s just a nice way to start the new year,” she said.

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