1 Hike with a ranger
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Dec. 31, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Hit the trails with a ranger to help the refuge with wildlife observations, data collection and some light trail maintenance. Bring your own water bottle and snack. Registration required; www.surveymonkey.com/RangerHike2014. More information: 952-854-5900 or www.fws.gov/refuge/Minne sota_Valley.
2 New Year’s Day hike
Afton State Park, Jan. 1, 10-11:30 a.m.
Join a naturalist for a New Year’s fitness hike, plus an eyeful of the park’s dramatic river valleys and bluffs. More information: 651-231-6869 or www.mndnr.gov. Another first-day hike is offered on the Gateway Trail Jan. 1, 2-3:30 p.m. For more information on the Gateway hike: 651-231-6869 or www.mndnr.gov.
3 New Year’s Day snowshoe hike
Kroening Interpretive Center, Jan. 1, 1-3 p.m.
Kick off the year by donning snowshoes for a hike through North Mississippi Regional Park. Hikers are invited to warm up with a post-hike cocoa in the toasty interpretive center. Ages 8-plus. Snowshoes provided. $5. Reservations required; 763-559-6700. More information: www.threeriversparkdistrict.org
4 Blanket for wildlife
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Jan. 2, 2-3:30 p.m.
A blanket of snow provides a lifeline for some wildlife. Learn how certain species have adapted to winter during this ranger-led snowshoe hike through the Minnesota River Valley. Registration required; 952-858-0710. More information: www.fws.gov/refuge/Minnesota_Valley.
5 Tracking with technology
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Jan. 3, 1:30-3 p.m.
Here’s an opportunity for the whole family to learn about high-tech tracking techniques used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Meet at the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center but come prepared (wearing lots of warm layers) to venture outdoors. Reservations required; 952-854-5900. More information: www.fws.gov/refuge/Minnesota_Valley.