Start your new year on the right foot with a First Day Hike

10 state parks and forests hosting guided hikes New Years Day

Are you one of the many folks who made a resolution to get more exercise in 2020? Then start the new year on the right foot by joining in a First Day Hike!

West Virginia is one of the 50 state park systems that participate in America’s State Parks First Day Hike initiative. These free New Year’s Day hikes are led by state park staff and volunteers.

West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England believes the state park system’s hundreds of miles of trails are a major draw to visitors.

“People enjoy the solitude of the forest and trails as well as the activity and exercise that hiking offers,” England said.

He encourages people who don’t normally hike in the winter to get out and explore the trails during this time. “Winter hiking is a unique experience. Seasonal changes can make the same trail hiked in June unfamiliar in January due to foliage, wildlife activity and temperatures.”

Good for the body and soul

Studies have shown that hiking is good for both body and mind. According to the National Park Service, hiking builds stronger muscles and bones, improves cardiovascular health, and can even decrease the risk of certain respiratory problems. A Stanford University study found that spending recreational time outdoors can reduce stress, calm anxiety and lower risk of depression.

Hiking also is a great bonding experience for the whole family, whether you’re learning about wildlife, plant life, or just enjoying nature’s beauty. A variety of terrain ranging from steep and rocky to wide flat paths (some of which are ADA accessible) makes West Virginia state parks’ trail system accessible to all ages and abilities.

Hike and Stay

Want to extend your fun past the guided hike? Rest your feet and enjoy 50% off your stay on January 1st by using offer code FIRSTDAY at checkout when you book online! This offer is valid at Cacapon Resort State Park, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Chief Logan State Park, Holly River State Park, North Bend State Park, Pipestem Resort State Park, Twin Falls Resort State Park and Tygart Lake State Park.

Scheduled hikes

Ten West Virginia state parks and forests are hosting guided hikes on Jan. 1, 2020. Click on the park you’re interested in to visit the event page for that hike!

Blackwater Falls State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Nature Center by Pendleton Lake. Led by Naturalist Paulita Cousin.

Cacapon Resort State Park, 10 a.m.
Two hikes are scheduled, with both starting at the Nature Center. Led by Park Naturalist Valerie Chaney and Master Naturalist Clark Dixon.

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Cass Visitor’s Center. Led by Naturalist/Interpreter Kailey Price and Superintendent Marshall Markley.

Chief Logan State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Museum in the Park. Led by Naturalist Lauren Cole.

Holly River State Park, 11 a.m. 
Meet at the Anderson Activities Building. Led by Superintendent Doug Wiant.

Kanawha State Forest, 1 p.m.
Two hikes are scheduled, with both starting at the Forest Headquarters. Led by Superintendent Chris Bartley and Naturalist Dave Dendler.

North Bend State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Nature Center. Led by Naturalist Ken Zebo.

Pipestem Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at McKeever Lodge Lobby. Led by Naturalist Julie McQuade.

Tygart Lake Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at Tygart Lake Lodge. Led by Naturalist Jacob Jackson.

Twin Falls Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Falls Trail Parking Lot. Led by Cully McCurdy, Bugs Stover, and Naturalist Tammy Cooper.

Hikers are advised to bring water and a snack, and wear weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear. Upon completion of the hike, participants will receive a First Day Hike patch.

Lodging is available year-round at many of the parks listed above, and several of our lodge parks are hosting New Year’s Eve dinner dances. Consider booking a cabin or lodge room so you have more time to enjoy the holidays in #AlmostHeaven.

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