Celebrate the New Year with First Day Hike at Chimney Rock State Park

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The 2016 centennial of North Carolina’s state parks system will launch at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park with a First Day Hike on Jan. 1, an opportunity to begin the New Year with exercise, family adventure and a reconnection with nature.

Now in its fifth year, this tradition has prompted North Carolinians to walk more than 17,000 miles on state park trails during past New Year’s Day events. Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on its First Day Hike.

State Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood will lead the first-of-its kind hike at Chimney Rock, beginning at the front entrance of the park and leading up the three mile main road to the base of the rock. Ledgerwood will share the fascinating history of Chimney Rock along the way.

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Participants should meet at 8 a.m. in front of the Old Rock Café located adjacent to the park entrance; shuttle service will be provided back to the front gate at the end of the hike. Hikers should wear comfortable hiking shoes or boots, dress appropriately for the weather and bring plenty of water. Registration is not required, and participants can return to the park for the day at no charge. Park hours are 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. during the winter.

“The year 2016 will be a special one for state parks in North Carolina as we celebrate our 100th anniversary with events throughout the state. Spending some quality time with friends and family in these stunning landscapes is a perfect way to begin that celebration,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director.

There are 46 guided hikes scheduled for New Year’s Day in the state, ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to six-mile treks, and many of them include interpretive programs by rangers along the way. All seasonal state park facilities will remain open on the holiday.

Nationally, First Day Hikes are 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. Last year, nearly 28,000 people rang in the New Year by collectively hiking over 66,000 miles. A complete list of First Day Hikes in North Carolina can be found at www.ncparks.gov/first-day-hikes.

-Submitted by Shannon Quinn