State Parks Can Help You Keep New Year’s Resolutions and Exercise Goals

Keeping a New Year’s resolution to be healthy and exercise more is no walk in the park. While changing habits may be difficult, many people have found success by changing things up when routines become stale. If you’ve grown tired of the gym, or if you’re in need of a fresh way to keep your goals, here’s a tip: Why not skip the treadmill, put on some hiking shoes and head out to your favorite state park?

This is a good time to go outside, get some fresh air, exercise and reconnect with nature. Fortunately, West Virginia’s state parks, with their hundreds of miles of marked trails and naturalists to serve as guides, make hiking easy (or challenging), fun and educational. Hiking and walking are some of the most popular activities at state parks and can be done any day of the week.

When you visit a state park, you’re always welcome to hike by yourself at your own pace, or you can take advantage of special hikes offered throughout the year. These scheduled hikes offer different themes, such as bird spotting, star watching or wildflower identification. Whether you’re a trail veteran or newcomer, there’s something for everyone!


Many hiking trails, like this one at Cathedral State Park, are open to hikers all year.

If you’re ready to hit the trail, check out one of our guided nature hikes at Watters Smith Memorial State Park, Kanawha State Forest, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Prickett’s Fort State Park, Pipestem Resort State Park, and Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Details are available at under the Event Calendar tab. More hikes are added each week, so check frequently for updates.

Need something a little more challenging to encourage you to go the extra mile — or 100 miles? Participate in the Chief’s Challenge, which returns this year by popular request! This fun challenge is for hikers of all ages. During the calendar year, participants are asked to hike 100 miles on a state park or forest trail or pathway. Seventeen of those miles should be hiked or walked with a naturalist. Those who meet the challenge are invited to a special campfire and awards ceremony at the end of the year.

Accept the challenge and fill out an online enrollment HERE.

It may be February, but it’s never too late to keep (or make) a resolution. Take a hiking pal or go out on your own, and make 2017 a healthier year.