It's time to make New Year's resolutions, and seven West Virginia state parks and forests are inviting people to join a First Day Hike on Tuesday, Jan. 1, and adopt healthier lifestyles by spending more time outside in 2019.
"Hiking is a year-round activity and the experience is different each time, depending upon the season and temperature," said West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England. “Our parks and forests are known for our trails and beautiful scenery, and hking is the number one activity that park visitors enjoy.”
West Virginia is one of the 50 state park systems participating in America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative. State parks participating in First Day Hikes include Blackwater Falls, Cacapon, Chief Logan, Pipestem, Tygart Lake, Watoga and Kanawha State Forest.
"We're venturing out the first day of the year in 2019, no matter what the weather," said Chris Bartley at Watoga. Bartley’s First Day Hike in 2018 was a chilly zero degrees with a solo hiker joining him. “If we have folks show, we go.”
In past years, First Day Hikes participation ranges from 1 to 50 hikers, with Kanawha State Forest typically drawing in 100-200 hikers. Hiking or walking at a state park or forest is an activity open to anyone, and it’s free.
First Day hikers should arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the starting time. Hikers should bring water and wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves. Hikes will depart on time and return to the starting point. Participants will receive a First Day Hike patch upon completion.
Additional information and other areas providing guided First Day Hikes will be posted on www.wvstateparks.com.
For nationwide First Day Hike information visit www.stateparks.org.
First Day Hikes schedule:
Blackwater Falls State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at Blackwater Falls Nature Center by Pendleton Lake. Led by Paulita Cousin, Naturalist.
Cacapon Resort State Park, 10 a.m.
Two hikes are scheduled, with both starting at Cacapon Lodge Lobby. Led by Valerie Chaney, Naturalist.
Chief Logan State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the park office/Museum in the Park. Let by Lauren Cole, Naturalist.
Kanawha State Forest, 2 p.m.
Meet at Picnic Shelter No. 5. Led by volunteers and Kevin Dials, Superintendent.
Pipestem Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at McKeever Lodge Lobby. Led by Julie McQuade, Naturalist.
Tygart Lake State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at Tygart Lake Lodge Lobby. Led by Jacob Jackson, Naturalist.
Watoga State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at Picnic Shelter. Led by Chris Bartley, Naturalist.