First Day Hikes tradition continues at state parks

First Day Hikes has become a family-oriented tradition in all the NC state parks.
First Day Hikes has become a family-oriented tradition in all the NC state parks.

A North Carolina tradition continues on New Year’s Day with opportunities to exercise and reconnect with nature on First Day Hikes at every state park and recreation area, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

In the past two years, hikers in North Carolina have joined rangers and volunteers to walk more than 6,000 miles on state park trails Jan. 1. There will be more than 40 scheduled hikes ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to four-mile treks, many of them offering interpretive programs along the way. All state park facilities will remain open on the holiday.

Nationally, First Day Hikes is promoted by America’s State Parks, the National Association of State Park Directors and the American Hiking Society. More than 22,000 people in the nation hiked on Jan. 1 last year, covering nearly 44,000 miles in 700 state parks.

“America’s State Parks is committed to connecting people with some of the most important natural and historical features in their region,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of NASPD. “These hikes are also a reminder of the value of state parks to the well-being of children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from their electronics promotes their physical and mental health and inspires stewardship of our natural world for future generations.”

Brad Ives, assistant secretary at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said, “As the holiday season draws to a close, First Day Hikes are an excellent way to relax, lose the stress and connect with the outdoors and the rich natural resources that distinguish North Carolina.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis year’s event will be the first of many First Day Hikes at the new Carvers Creek State Park, which opened in September in Cumberland County. Lake James State Park will hold a hike along new sections of its Paddy’s Creek Trail, and families can enjoy self-guided hikes on the new Holly Discovery Trail, which has won a national award for environmental education. A walk alongside the ocean at Hammocks Beach State Park has always been a popular favorite, and at Weymouth Woods Historic Nature Preserve, hikers will visit the world’s oldest known longleaf pine. And, the Eno River Association will offer both long and short hikes as part of a decades-old tradition at Eno River State Park.

Details about all First Day Hikes in North Carolina can be found here.

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