First Day Hikes will be offered in every North Carolina state park and state recreation area Jan. 1, giving everyone an opportunity to exercise and celebrate nature as a New Year’s Day tradition, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
On the 2012 New Year’s Day, 1,392 hikers in North Carolina joined rangers and volunteers to walk a combined 4,573 miles along trails in the state parks and state recreation areas. For the second year, North Carolina’s state parks system will partner with American’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors to nationally promote First Day Hikes.
“Exploring the year-round splendor of nature is quickly becoming a New Year’s Day tradition,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “Every one of our state parks and state recreation areas is open on the holiday, and the ranger-guided hikes are an excellent way to keep fit during the holidays, connect with nature and develop a deeper appreciation for the rich natural resources that distinguish North Carolina.”
There will be at least 40 guided hikes in the North Carolina state parks system and more than 600 throughout the 50 states as part of the event, ranging from easy to challenging. At Falls Lake State Recreation area, a scavenger hunt will be part of a kid-friendly hike, and Hammocks Beach State Park plans an “Early Bird Hike” at 8:30 a.m. Hanging Rock State Park will present the “Five Overlooks Challenge, a 10-mile excursion across the park’s scenic peaks, while hikers at Weymouth Woods Historic Nature Preserve will visit the world’s oldest known longleaf pine. 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 First Day Hikes in North Carolina can be found under “Education” at www.ncparks.gov and at www.americasstateparks.org, which also lists all hikes nationally.