State parks to host First Day Hikes

By: Staff report

RALEIGH — A North Carolina New Year’s tradition of family adventure, exercise and reconnection with nature continues in 2018 with First Day Hikes in North Carolina State Parks on Monday, Jan. 1.

More than 40 guided hikes are scheduled in the state parks system on New Year’s Day, ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to several-mile rambles, most of them featuring educational programs led by rangers along the way. All state parks will be open on the holiday.

On New Year’s Day, thousands of hikers walked several thousand miles on state park trails, exploring state parks and state recreation areas in brisk winter weather. In North Carolina, this popular tradition began at Eno River State Park more than 40 years ago, an annual event that now draws more than 800 visitors.

“First Day Hikes offer an opportunity to connect fitness and the outdoors as the holiday season draws to a close. Family time surrounded by our state’s rich natural resources is a great way to spend the day,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “It’s also a reminder that your state parks are a year-round resource for recreation, wellness and learning.”

Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on First Day Hikes. Follow up a hike at the Dismal Swamp with hot chocolate and cookies, or brave the ice and snow for a hike at Mount Mitchell, our state’s first state park. Learn about some of our Piedmont’s flora and fauna at Mayo River, or discover the fire-dependent ecology of longleaf pine forests at Weymouth Woods. Cruise on a ferry to start a hike at Hammock’s Beach, or explore the new section of Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain.

As an added bonus, visitors involved with the North Carolina State Parks 100-Mile Challenge – to walk, hike, paddle, cycle or otherwise explore 100 miles in the state parks – can add First Day Hikes mileage to their totals. Details about the 100-Mile Challenge can be found at www.nc100miles.org

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.

A complete list of First Day Hikes in North Carolina can be found at https://www.ncparks.gov/first-day-hikes.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

Staff report