Grand Lake Annual First Day Hike

Join an annual national tradition of hiking on the first day of the 2021 New Year at Grand Lake. These hikes are called “First Day Hikes” to celebrate the New Year and began nationwide in 2012 at state parks across our nation. Ever since then, Grand Lake looks forward to families, friends, and individuals shutting off electronics, exploring the great outdoors, exercising, and most importantly, enjoying the bountiful nature.

The experienced staff at Grand Lake offers a free guided hike. And! You can even bring your pets on leashes! This hike is not an all-day excursion, so it won’t tire out elderly children. The hike lasts about 45 minutes to one hour on a paved trail. Your preparations depend on the weather. The hiking skill levels needed for this guided hike are slim to none.


What to Bring on Your First Day Hike

First, check the weather, and dress appropriately. Waterproof hiking boots are best for footwear. If you bring children and animals, pack enough water and snacks to keep them hydrated and satisfied. Definitely bring a camera device to catch special moments and binoculars for up-close viewing.


Time, Location, and Restrictions

The hike begins at the Bernice Area clubhouse in the Grand Lake State Park at 11:30 a.m. on January 1, 2021. Extra precautions are required this year. Group sizes are limited to 15 people, and the park requires you to wear a mask. The staff asks that if you registered a ticket for the hike, but cannot attend, please return your ticket so they can open a waitlist spot. Please arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. If you feel that you have been exposed to COVID-19, please cancel. If you are on a waitlist, the staff will send you an email asking you to confirm your ticket within 24 hours. You must confirm, or you will lose your spot for the hike. You can easily register and cancel on, or you can email [email protected].

You can access the Bernice Area east of Bernice, Oklahoma, from SH 85A and turning east on E 270 Road.



Bernice Area at Grand Lake State Park

54101 E Hwy 85 A
Bernice, OK 74331






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More About Grand Lake

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees sits in northeastern Oklahoma in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and covers 46,500 acres. Harry Holderman, Cherokee Tribe member, thought that the Grand River would be a possible site for hydroelectric power before Oklahoma statehood in 1907 and built up political support for the project. Construction began in 1938 on the Grand River, also called the Lower Neosho River, and the US Army Corp of Engineers completed the Pensacola Dam in 1940 right before WWII.

The U.S. government took control of the Pensacola Dam from 1941 to 1946 for the war effort. Pensacola Dam is thought to be the longest multiple arch bridge in the world. The dam measures 5,141 feet with 51 arches. Its foundation supports a walkway and SH 28. Bassmaster Magazine ranked Grand Lake as the 15th best bass fishing lake in the U.S. in 2013. Along with largemouth, whitemouth, spotted bass, and hybrid striped bass, anglers enjoy catching channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, and spoonbill catfish (paddle fish). Grand Lake has the largest population of spoonbill cats, which are prehistoric, in the world.

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