Start your new year on the right foot with these First Day Hikes

Celebrate the start of 2019 by hiking at a West Virginia state park or forest.

If you’re one of the many folks who made a New Year’s resolution to get more exercise, you’re in luck! West Virginia’s state parks and forests are a great place to get your new year off to the good start, thanks to several First Day Hikes. Sponsored by America’s State Parks, First Day Hikes encourage people to get outside and enjoy a day of recreation, history and nature on January 1 of each year. When you join a First Day Hike, you’re in good company! In 2017, more than 62,000 people covered 110,000 miles on First Day Hikes across the country.

Hiking is the most popular activity at West Virginia state parks and forests

People love hiking! With hundreds of miles of trails, there’s plenty to discover when you hike at a state park or forest. Six state parks and forests are hosting guided hikes on January 1. Anyone can participate. Just be sure to dress for cold weather and trail conditions. It’s also a good idea to bring water and a snack. And as a bonus, participants at each event will receive a souvenir First Day Hike patch!

Here’s a list of 2019 First Day Hikes:

Blackwater Falls State Park

You won’t mind the chilly weather when you see Blackwater Falls State Park in all of its winter splendor. This hike features a two-mile trek on Dobbins House Trail out to Pase Point Overlook, where you’ll have sweeping views of the gorgeous Blackwater Canyon. The park naturalist will lead the hike, which includes interpretive stops along the way. For more information about when the hike starts, call 304-259-5216.

After your hike, make sure you stop for lunch at the Smokehouse Restaurant, located at the Blackwater Lodge. After you eat, explore the rest of the park or settle in for the evening by checking into a cozy lodge room or cabin.

Cacapon Resort State Park

Cacapon Resort State Park and see some of the Eastern Panhandle’s best views while you’re at it! Two hikes will be offered — a moderate trek on the two-mile Tower Trail and an easy stroll along the 1.5 mile Cabin Loop Trail. Don’t forget to enjoy the views and watch for wildlife! These trails pass through oaks, maples, pines, mountain laurel, blueberry and flowering dogwood. Hikers should meet at Cacapon Lodge at 10 a.m.

Once you finish your hike, plan to spend the night in the lodge or one of the parks cabins. And make sure you grab a bite to eat at the park’s restaurant. Ask about the special New Year’s Day menu!

Chief Logan State Park

Take your first step into the New Year with a hike at Chief Logan State Park. This interpretive hike is about three miles and will give you a chance to identify trees and animal tracks, look for wildlife and learn about evergreens. The hike will start at 10 a.m. at the park office, located in the Museum in the Park. After you work up an appetite on the trails, enjoy lunch at Chief Logan Lodge’s Whispering Ridge Restaurant.

Kanawha State Forest

The first day of a new year is an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and Kanawha State Forest is a perfect place to do just that. This hike is popular with hikers, attracting 100 or more people each year! The hike will start at Picnic Shelter No. 5 at 2 p.m.

Tygart Lake State Park

New year, new you! Start 2019 on the right path by taking a hike at Tygart Lake State Park. This two-mile hike along the Dogwood Trail passes through beautiful forestland filled with dogwood trees. The park naturalist will lead the hike, which starts at 1 p.m. at the Tygart Lake Lodge.

Watoga State Park

Burn off those holiday calories with a hike at Watoga State Park. This two-mile hike on the Recreation Trail and Lake Trail will start at 10 a.m. at the picnic shelter. On the way back, make sure you stop for coffee and hot chocolate.

If you can’t join one of these guided hikes, visit any of our parks or forests any time of the year and enjoy a hike on your own. Hiking is fun and enjoyable, whether you’re visiting a new park for the day or enjoying a weeklong vacation at your favorite park. Need overnight accommodations? Each park has cabins and/or lodge rooms. But make a reservation today because they book up fast!

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