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Enjoy New Year’s Day in the Great Outdoors; First Day Hikes at Local State Parks Listed Here

Raleigh, N.C. – A North Carolina New Year’s tradition of family adventure, exercise and reconnection with nature continues in 2018 with First Day Hikes in North Carolina State Parks on Jan. 1.

More than 40 guided hikes are scheduled in the state parks system on New Year’s Day, ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to several-mile rambles, most of them featuring educational programs led by rangers along the way. All state parks will be open on the holiday.

On Jan. 1 this year, thousands of hikers walked several thousand miles on state park trails, exploring state parks and state recreation areas in brisk winter weather. In North Carolina, this popular tradition began at Eno River State Park more than 40 years ago, an annual event that now draws more than 800 visitors.

“First Day Hikes offer an opportunity to connect fitness and the outdoors as the holiday season draws to a close. Family time surrounded by our state’s rich natural resources is a great way to spend the day,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “It’s also a reminder that your state parks are a year-round resource for recreation, wellness and learning.”

Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on First Day Hikes. Follow up a hike at the Dismal Swamp with hot chocolate and cookies, or brave the ice and snow for a hike at Mount Mitchell, our state’s firststate park. Learn about some of our Piedmont’s flora and fauna at Mayo River, or discover the fire-dependent ecology of longleaf pine forests at Weymouth Woods. Cruise on a ferry to start a hike at Hammock’s Beach, or explore the new section of Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain.

As an added bonus, visitors involved with the North Carolina State Parks 100-Mile Challenge – to walk, hike, paddle, cycle or otherwise explore 100 miles in the state parks – can add First Day Hikes mileage to their totals. Details about the 100-Mile Challenge can be found at www.nc100miles.org

Nationally, First Day Hikes is promoted by America’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors, with more than 400 hikes scheduled in state parks across the country.


Grandfather Mountain State Park


Profile Trail First Day Hike

We will hike the new section of the Profile Trail from the parking area to the Watauga River and back. This will be approximately 1.5 miles. The trail passes through several natural communities including acidic and rich cove forests and crosses several small streams. Along the way, we may see signs of wildlife active during winter including birds, small mammals, deer or black bear as well as ice or snow formations. This is a great way to kick off the new year with a breath of fresh mountain air! For all ages, no pets, please. This is a moderate hike.  However, depending on the weather conditions, it can be more challenging and difficult for some. Hikers should wear hiking shoes or boots and dress appropriately for the weather.

Date of Event:

Monday, January 1, 2018 – 1:00pm

Start Location:

Profile Trail Parking Area (Hwy 105 South)


Elk Knob State Park


First Day Hike

Join a park ranger for a hike along the Beech Tree Trail.  The one-mile hike will last approximately  45 minutes and is easy to moderate.  The hike will be weather dependent. 

Date of Event:

Monday, January 1, 2018 – 11:00am

Start Location:

Trail Head Parking lot



New River State Park


Take a “FIRST” Hike

Start the New Year with some fresh air! Join one of the many “first hikes” in a beautiful North Carolina State Park. Join a park ranger for an informal hike down the Hickory Trail. We will begin at the Park’s Visitor Center and return there for a 1.5-mile hike to the river and back. This is a moderate hike.  Wear Sturdy shoes and bring water.

Please call the park office to register for this hike or for more information. 336-982-2587.

Date of Event:

Monday, January 1, 2018 – 10:00am

Start Location:

US Hwy 221 Access Visitor Center


Mount Jefferson State Natural Area


First Day Hike

Join us for a nature hike to bring in the New Year on Mt. Jefferson. Meet the ranger for a New Year’s Day hike to Luther Rock.
We hope to see some amazing views along the ridgeline. This will be a moderate, one-mile hike round trip.

Date of Event:

Monday, January 1, 2018 – 2:00pm

Start Location:

Picnic Area