SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Just in time for New Year’s Resolutions, 10 West Virginia state parks and forests are inviting the public to take part in a First Day Hike on Jan. 1, 2020.
“Winter hiking is a unique experience. Seasonal changes can make the same trail hiked in June unfamiliar in January due to foliage, wildlife activity and temperatures,” said West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England.
According to England, hiking is a top reason many visitors, both out of state and in-state, come to parks. “People enjoy the solitude of the forest and trails as well as the activity and exercise that hiking offers.”
West Virginia is one of the 50 state park systems that participate in America’s State Parks First Day Hike initiative. These free, guided hikes are led by state park naturalists and superintendents. Attendance in West Virginia has ranged from zero in zero-degree weather to as more than 300.
“We can’t control the weather, but if folks show, we go,” said Paulita Cousin, naturalist at Blackwater Falls State Park. Cousin typically shepherds two to three dozen people on her hikes, which include interpretive stories and stops to enjoy wintry weather.
First Day hikers should arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the hike and bring water and a snack, and wear weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy boots or hiking shoes. Hikes depart on time and return to the starting point. Participants will receive a First Day Hike patch upon completion.
Hikers who wish to stay overnight on January 1st can receive 50% off their visit by booking online and using offer code FIRSTDAY at checkout. Offer is valid for stays at – Cacapon Resort State Park, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Chief Logan State Park, Holly River State Park, North Bend State Park, Pipestem Resort State Park, Twin Falls Resort State Park & Tygart Lake State Park.
Details for each hike are posted under the events tab on www.wvstateparks.com.
First Day Hikes schedule:
Blackwater Falls State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the 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 the Nature Center. Led by Valerie Chaney, Park Naturalist and Clark Dixon, Master Naturalist.
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Cass Visitor’s Center. Led by Kailey Price, Naturalist/Interpreter, and Marshall Markley, Superintendent.
Chief Logan State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Museum in the Park. Led by Lauren Cole, Naturalist.
Holly River State Park, 11 a.m.
Meet at the Anderson Activities Building. Led by Doug Wiant, Superintendent.
Kanawha State Forest, 1 p.m.
Two hikes are scheduled, with both starting at the Forest Headquarters. Led by Chris Bartley, Superintendent, and Dave Dendler, Naturalist.
North Bend State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Nature Center. Led by Ken Zebo, Naturalist.
Pipestem Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at McKeever Lodge Lobby. Led by Julie McQuade, Naturalist.
Twin Falls Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Falls Trail Parking Lot. Led by Cully McCurdy and Bugs Stover, and Tammy Cooper, Naturalist.
Tygart Lake Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at Tygart Lake Lodge. Led by Jacob Jackson, Naturalist.
About West Virginia State Parks
West Virginia’s state parks and forests are the vacation destination of choice for more than 7 million people each year. Made up of 35 parks, 9 forests and two rail trails, the West Virginia State Parks system provides endless opportunities for family fun and adventure. Make memories that last forever. Book your adventure at www.wvstateparks.com.
West Virginia State Parks is managed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, a division of the West Virginia Department of Commerce.