First Day Hikes offered at all of North Carolina’s state parks on New Year’s Day brought a record 3,859 people to join 57 guided hikes across the state. Mild, dry weather made the hikes more attractive than those in 2018, which were marred by rain and winter weather.
To start the new year, hundreds of dogs, two llamas and a goat joined their human companions on various hikes. Participants ranged in age from newborn to 95 years young. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park set a record for their park’s first day hike program with 300 participants.
Many traditional events continued, including the First Day 5-K at Haw River, the Polar Plunge at Hanging Rock and the Two State, One Hike partnership between Crowders Mountain State Park in N.C. and Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina.
“I was thrilled to see so many North Carolinians in our parks, particularly the record number at Cliffs of the Neuse,” said state parks Director Dwayne Patterson, who grew up in Kinston near the park. “These hikes were a great start to the year for people of all ages, and I look forward to millions more people enjoying healthy outdoor recreation activities at our beautiful state parks throughout the year.”
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. In North Carolina, the tradition began at Eno River State Park more than 40 years ago. All N.C. state parks have offered first day hikes since 2012.
Ramble On: A History of Hiking