New year, new you: Start 2018 in WV’s great outdoors

New Year’s Day: It’s a time for reflection and renewal, when many folks are inspired to set health and fitness goals for the coming year. And, there’s no better way to ring in the new year than a First Day Hike!

First Day Hikes began more than 25 years ago as a partnership between America’s state parks and the American Hiking Society. Each year on Jan. 1, select parks in all 50 states host free, guided hikes for all ages. The hikes may vary in distance and rigor, but they share a common goal: to connect people with nature and promote the state parks’ natural resources.

No experience is required for these hikes. You don’t even have to have hiking boots. Any sturdy, comfortable shoes with good treads will do just fine. Dress for the weather, but keep in mind that weather can be unpredictable. Freezing mornings may turn into warm, sunny afternoons, so it’s advisable to layer your clothing and pack or wear a hat and gloves. You might want to bring water and a snack, too.

P.S. – Don’t forget to bring a camera and tag your scenic shots #AlmostHeaven!

Scheduled Hikes for 2018

Last year on this day, nearly 28,000 people throughout the country collectively logged more than 66,000 miles. Will you be joining them this year?

The following First Day Hikes are scheduled for Jan. 1, 2018. (Contact each individual park for details or to confirm the time and meeting place.)

Pipestem Resort State Park
Meet Kim Hawkins at 1 p.m. in the lobby of McKeever Lodge for an easy 3-mile hike. Many of the trails at Pipestem offer scenic views of the Bluestone Gorge.

Blackwater Falls State Park
Meet Naturalist Paulita Cousin at the sled run parking area (time TBD) for a 3-mile round trip hike to the breathtaking overlook at Lindy Point.

Beech Fork State Park
Meet Superintendent Dillard Price and Friends of Beech Fork at the Overlook Trail (time TBD) entrance for a hike exploring the scenery along the 2-mile moderate trail.

Tygart Lake State Park
Meet Jacob Jackson at 1 p.m. at the Nature Center for a wintry hike followed by hot cocoa. First Day Hikers will receive a 10 percent discount at the gift shop afterward.

Kanawha State Forest
Meet at 1 p.m. in the parking area of the pool/nature center for a guided 4-mile hike. Depending on the number of participants, the hike might be split into two groups, allowing the option to choose between a moderate or more strenuous activity.

Earn Rewards for Your Hiking Miles

If you love hiking, check out the West Virginia State Parks Hiking Program. Participants receive a log card to track their mileage and receive rewards when they reach hiking plateaus of 25, 50 and 100 miles. West Virginia State Parks and Forests have more than 1,200 miles of trails to explore, so you’d better get started!

Where are you spending your first day of 2018?

This post was last updated on March 17, 2022