Ponca State Park To Host First Day Hike, 10th Annual Winterfest Free Events

PONCA – With the New Year now right around the corner, make plans to bring the family out to a northeast Nebraska state park.

According to a release from Ponca State Park, the 1st Day Hike and 10th annual Winterfest will be held on Saturday, January 1.

The group will trek into the New Year with a free 9:00 a.m. guided hike on the Old Oak Trail followed by hot chocolate and cookies at the West Shelter. If Mother Nature provides enough snow, guests will be able to explore the trail in snowshoes.

At 10:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day, plan on enjoying an outdoor education program provided by the Ponca State Park Naturalist team and at high noon it’s the National Championship Fruitcake Fling. Visitors of all ages will throw wildlife friendly fruitcakes and compete for distance.

Following close behind the Fruitcake Fling is the Yule Log Quest at 2:00 p.m. For the Yule Log Quest, you will need a team of 3-5 members with a very creative name. Pre-register your team by calling 402-755-2284 as there is a limit to 20 teams. The Yule Log Quest will begin with five minute-to-win-it challenges followed by five clues that will ultimately lead you to where the Yule Log is hidden. Once found by all teams, a horse and sleigh will pull the Yule Log from its hiding spot and take it to the bonfire where the winning team will have the honor of cutting off a section of the Yule Log; then they along with the Winter Sprite will place the cut section on the bonfire, bringing good will to all in the coming year.

Then closing out New Year’s Day, on Saturday, January 1, lighted hayrack rides will last from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Guests will be able to enjoy the frosty chill of a winter evening on a hayrack that will travel from the Resource and Education Center to the Tri-State Overlook then Towers of Time and back. Meet and pre-register at the Resource & Education Center for this free event.

All Winterfest and 1st Day Hike activities are family friendly and free. Prizes will be awarded during the National Championship Fruitcake Fling and Yule Log Quest but you must pre-register your Yule Log Quest team, as space is limited.

Call Ponca State Park at 402-755-2284 for additional details or for more information, like Ponca State Park NE on Facebook.