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Program celebrates 130th anniversary of Niagara Falls State Park

Niagara Falls State Park celebrates its 130th anniversary with a special free program planned for 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday.

The event highlighting the birth of the nation’s oldest park is just one offering in a summer schedule presented by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which includes guided hikes, evening bicycle tours and even kayaking experiences.

On Friday, park naturalists will return to Niagara Falls State Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to lead a Water and Power Hike to the remains of Schoellkopf Power Generating Station 3.

And a Full Moon Hike is slated for 8 to 10 p.m. July 31 at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island, with a presentation on moon lore, facts and stories, followed by a short walk.

Artpark State Park will host a Born to Be Wild Hike from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 7, where a parks naturalist will describe where the falls originated nearly 12,000 years ago.

An Evening River Bike Tour is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 9 at Niagara Falls State Park. The naturalist-led group will travel from the park to Devil’s Hole State Park and back in time for the fireworks.

Concurrent hikes in Niagara Falls and Wilson are slated for Aug. 14.

Experiencing the stunning summer scenery, as well as fragrances and sounds of the Niagara Gorge, is the aim of the Aug. 14 hike planned for 5 to 7 p.m. at Whirlpool State Park.

A Summer Flower Walk is slated for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at Wilson Tuscarora State Park, with views of a Lake Ontario sunset.

Hikers will want to visit Niagara Falls State Park for two “Goat Island Adventure Walks” planned for 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 and again on Sept. 4. The walks will end with fireworks at 10 p.m.

“Each season, State Parks provides a variety of programming opportunities and activities for our visitors and residents in the Niagara region to learn more about the parks’ history, environment and special features,” said Angela Berti, state parks spokeswoman.

“This summer, we are especially excited about the Goat Island Adventure Walks,” she added. “It’s a great way to learn more about Niagara Falls and catch up on the transformation happening under Gov. Andrew Cuomo. We also encourage visitors to check out events at other state parks and experience all of the programs we have to offer.”

Take a Hike: The Power of Fresh Air/Nature is the topic from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 28 in Niagara Falls State Park, as a park naturalist leads a walk on a trail filled with history.

And, The Mystery of the Gorge will conclude the gorge trail hikes for summer, with a special program from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Devil’s Hole State Park.

In addition, a beginner’s class on SmartStart Paddling Orientation for Your Kayak will be offered at Beaver Island State Park from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, and continue July 23 and 30, Aug. 20 and 27 and Sept. 3, 10 and 17. Classes are taught by a certified kayak instructor and each participant must supply his or her own kayak and Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device.

For those visitors to Beaver Island State Park who would like to try kayaking and don’t own one, State Parks will provide kayaks, personal floatation devices and paddles to a limited class of five with a certified kayak instructor at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, and on Aug. 1 and 29 and Sept. 5. Those interested must sign in at the Beaver Island Nature Center and leave photo identification.

Artpark State Park continues its free Family Fun Days from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 8. Call the Artpark Box Office at 754-4375 for information.

Seasonal Interpretive Nature Centers also are open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, through Sept. 6, at Beaver Island State Park and Fort Niagara State Park.

Berti encourages anyone interested in participating in these free programs to preregister.

“We encourage preregistration because the walks and hikes do tend to book up,” she noted.

To register for these hikes and other programs, call 282-5154.