North Carolina State Parks are once again joining the New Year’s Day tradition of offering guided First Day Hikes on January 1, 2019.

America’s State Parks sponsors the First Day Hike program, and parks organizations in all 50 states are participating. Last year nearly 55,000 people collectively hiked over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes on New Year’s Day.  Numerous others hiked state park trails throughout the day.

“These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with nature,” America’s State Parks says.

Virtually every North Carolina state park is offering a guided New Year’s Day hike, and some have multiple options. Many are short, even less than a mile, but others are longer, including Crowders Mountain State Park’s annual Two States, One Hike First Day Hike. This hike begins at King’s Mountain State Park in South Carolina and ends at Crowders Mountain’s Boulder Access Area. It is an 8-mile moderate hike, with shuttle service from Crowders back to the King’s Mountain starting point. Crowders Mountain is also offering a 2-mile guided hike.

Only Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough did not list a hike on the First Day Hikes search page as of this writing. However, it is open to hike on your own, as are all other N.C. state parks on January 1.

The First Day Hike at South Mountains State Park includes a visit to High Shoals Falls, below.

Among the guided First Day Hikes planned across North Carolina are:

  • Carolina Beach State Park at Carolina Beach –  2-mile hike to Sugarloaf Dune.
  • Carvers Creek State Park in Spring Lake – 3-mile hike through areas of the historic Rockefeller estate not yet open to the public.
  • Eno River State Park in Durham – 2.5-mile hike on the Fannys Ford Trail.
  • Fort Macon State Park at Atlantic Beach – 3.3 miles on the Elliott Coues Trail and a 0.75-mile nature hike on the Yarrow’s Loop Trail and inlet beach.
  • Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury – 8.3-mile hike that will celebrate and grand opening of and include the Ruben Mountain Loop Trail.
  • Morrow Mountain State Park near Troy – 0.8-mile hike around the Quarry Trail.
  • Mount Mitchell State Park in Burnsville – 0.75 mile hike of the Balsam Nature Loop Trail at the top of Mount Mitchell.
  • Raven Rock State Park near Lillington – two-hour hike “to discover some of the natural wonders of this prominent landmark.”
  • South Mountains State Park near Connelly Springs – 2.75-mile hike includes the 80-foot High Shoals Falls.
  • Stone Mountain State Park at Roaring Gap – 3-mile hike to Wolf Rock, Cedar Rock and then past the historic Hutchinson Homestead.
  • William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh – a 2.5-hour walk to include never-finished millstones in the woods,  some ruins and some stories of the people who lived where the park is now, “a huge rock that not many people know of” and an old scout camp in the woods.

Hikers should wear boots or sturdy shoes, and dress for the weather. Hikes will be cancelled if the weather is bad.

Check the N.C. State Parks’ First Day Hikes page for hike start times and places and additional details.


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