Despite chilly, soggy New Year’s Day weather, 2,049 visitors collectively hiked 4,952 miles on the 2017 First Day Hikes event, with guided hikes offered Jan. 1 in every state park and state recreation area.
Throughout the system, 55 hikes were arranged by park rangers and volunteers, many offering the distinctive flair of the state park.
Chimney Rock State Park earned the distinction of the “first” First Day Hike with 75 visitors making the 6.5-mile trek up and down the park’s entrance road starting at 12:01 a.m. Carolina Beach State Park attracted 190 hikers for a two-mile stroll, and 125 runners joined the 2nd Annual First Day 5K run at Haw River State Park. One dedicated family joined both the Goose Creek State Park hike at 10 a.m. and the Medoc Mountain State Park hike at 2 p.m.
This was the sixth year that North Carolina State Parks staged First Day Hikes, although the tradition began at Eno River State Park in the early 1970s.
For 2017, hikers enjoyed an added bonus by adding their mileage to the North Carolina State Parks 100-Mile Challenge – to walk, hike, paddle, cycle or otherwise explore 100 miles in the state parks. Details about the 100-Mile Challenge can be found here.
Nationally, First Day Hikes is promoted by America’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors, with more than 400 hikes scheduled in state parks across the country.