Weather cooperates for First Day Hike in the Park


GUERNSEY – It was a nose-nipping 21 degrees with the sun sparkling crystal frost along the trail at the start of Guernsey State Park’s First Day Hike of 2024.

“It’s a beautiful day. It’s a good way to burn energy. It’s not hot, the wind’s not blowing, and it’s for a good cause,” Carrie Arrestad said. She came from Cheyenne with her kids to enjoy the hike along the scenic walkway from Lucindy Rollins parking lot off South Guernsey Highway to the Oregon Trail Ruts.

Marisol Boyer of Torrington came with her husband Eric. “Why haven’t we come here before? That was an awesome experience,” she said. 

“We relived the days of ’49,” Eric added, after they hiked the limestone trails carved by the iron-rimmed wheels and leather shoes of pioneers long ago.

The hike has become sort of a tradition in Wyoming, beginning the year out right for those whose New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise or getting outside more. The trails at Wyoming State Parks offer so much beauty and opportunities for people of all skill levels to get out in the fresh Wyoming air with their friends or family. 

This year there were 56 people who signed up at the beginning of the hike. The youngest was eight months old; the oldest was 88.

“It was a good turnout,” said Cassie Wells, Guernsey State Park superintendent. She added they ran out of the collectible 2024 First Day Hike stickers that were given to hikers, who were also treated with hot chocolate, coffee and snacks courtesy of the state park and local businesses: Banner Health Clinic, Banner Capital Bank and the Guernsey Mercantile.

“The theme this year is ‘A Hike Through History,’ so I thought this was the perfect trail this year,” Wells said. She added, usually the hike is inside the State Park, but there is a lot of history along the path to the Oregon Trail Ruts and Lucindy Rollins gravesite. Lucindy Rollins was an unfortunate pioneer who met her end in 1849 at the age of 24 near the scenic overlook of the Platte River. She is honored with an obelisk as her grave marker in memory of the pioneer women of Wyoming.

The winding pathway follows along the five main fish ponds carved by the engineers of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 as one of their first projects in the area. Wells explained the plan they had was to have two minnow ponds and circulate water from the river, pulling fresh water from the natural spring, but there was too much sand carried by the water and it never really worked.

Even though the CCC’s “Island Park” fish ponds didn’t materialize as envisioned, the area gives locals and visitors alike the opportunity to see the raw beauty of Wyoming on a simple trail that is friendly to people of all athletic abilities, and is handicap accessible.

One of the highlights of the hike is the drawing for a 2024 Annual Wyoming State Parks pass. This year’s local winner was Amelia Hurley of Guernsey. Everyone who entered the drawing will also have a chance to win a Wyoming State Parks Pass and a backpack full of goodies. That drawing will take place January 10.