Special to Iredell Free News
North Carolina’s New Year’s Day tradition of outdoor family adventure, exercise and exploring nature continues in 2020 with First Day Hikes throughout the state parks system. More than 45 guided hikes are scheduled for New Year’s Day, featuring educational programs led by park rangers along the way.
All state parks will be open on the holiday.
In North Carolina, this popular tradition began at Eno River State Park more than 40 years ago. Eno River’s First Day hike alone draws more than 800 visitors.
“For decades, First Day Hikes have served our citizens and out-of-state guests with a great start to the year,” said State Parks Director Dwayne Patterson. “After some lazy days with our families, our parks offer a chance to put our electronics down, get moving, get some fresh air, and set good intentions for the year — all while in the most beautiful places in our state.”
Each state park and recreation area brings something unique to First Day Hikes. Learn about beavers on a hike at Lake Norman, meet the world’s oldest longleaf pine at Weymouth Woods, or hike along the Pamlico River and watch wintering waterfowl at Goose Creek. Follow up a strenuous hike at rugged Gorges State Park with hot chocolate and cookies, or take a 5.2-mile hike to Chestnut Knob at South Mountains.
As an added bonus, visitors partaking in 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. First Day Hikes are also a great time to get started on your own New Year’s resolutions with the 100-mile challenge or Passport challenge!
Nationally, the First Day Hikes program 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.
About North Carolina State Parks
North Carolina State Parks manages more than 237,000 acres of iconic landscape within North Carolina’s state parks, state recreation areas and state natural areas. It administers the N.C Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, including its local grants program, as well as a state trails program, North Carolina Natural and Scenic Rivers and more, all with a mission dedicated to conservation, recreation and education. The state parks system welcomes more than 18 million visitors annually.