RALEIGH – 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 three years, hikers in North Carolina have joined rangers and volunteers to walk more than 10,000 miles on state park trails Jan. 1. There will be more than 40 scheduled hikes ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to six-mile treks, many of them offering interpretive programs along the way. All seasonal state park facilities will remain open on the holiday.
“The relatively new tradition of First Day Hikes has been embraced by people in North Carolina as an opportunity to begin the new year with a healthy activity, to shed the stress of the holidays and to reconnect with the outdoors and the rich natural resources that distinguish North Carolina,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “It also serves as a reminder that state parks are always available for exercise, family activities and education for more than 14 million visitors each year.”
Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on its First Day Hike. At Haw River State Park in Guilford County, hikers will preview a new 3.2-mile trail that will open for general use in coming months. Crowders Mountain State Park will make use of a six-mile trail that links park lands in North Carolina and South Carolina. Hikers often see fresh snow at Elk Knob and Mount Mitchell state parks, while Pettigrew State Park is a seasonal home to flocks of wintering waterfowl. And, the Eno River Association will offer 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 under “Education” at www.ncparks.gov.