Do it all on New Year’s Day

Post-hike Russian tea at the Eno River Association New Year's Day Hike

When I first started writing about fitness and the outdoors back in the early 1990s, there were a handful of ways you could welcome the New Year in most communities. There was usually a 5K run, a bike shop sponsored a casual ride, canoe clubs held members-only paddles, there was a hike or two, and some oddball group was jumping into a local lake (and jumping right back out again). You had options for welcoming the new year, but not a lot.

Today is a different story. In the Triangle, for instance, you don’t have to wait one minute into the new year for a 5K with the Run In The New Year 5K in Cary, which starts at midnight Jan. 1.  And thanks to the explosion of Meetup groups, you’ll find all variety of New Year’s activities, from paddle trips to bike rides to climbs and scuba dives. The options are too numerous to mention here. Rather, go to, enter your Zip code, enter your preferred activity and check out your New Years Day options.

While I’ve done just about everything on New Year’s Day — from 5Ks to the old The Spin Cycle New Year’s Day bike ride to paddle trips — the day has always been about hiking to me. There’s something thoughtful about a hike, it’s healthy, it’s slow, you can do it with your family. And thanks to the recent First Day Hikes program launched by the National Association of State Park Directors and American State Parks, finding a hike is not a problem. At North Carolina’s state parks alone there will be at least 40 guided hikes on New Year’s Day.

So today, we focus on New Year’s Day hikes. Below is a quick rundown of the First Day hikes scheduled for Tuesday at 35 state parks throughout North Carolina. For more information on a given hike, go to, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks,” then select “January” under option 2, “Select a month.”

Carolina Beach State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Marina Trail Head Parking Lot
2-mile hike to Sugarloaf Dune.
More info: (910) 458-8206

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park
2 p.m.
Meet at: Clifftop Parking lot
1-mile hike, dogs are welcome.
More info: (919) 778-6234

Crowders Mountain State Park
Call for time
Meet at: Visitor Center
Hikers from Crowders Mountain will hike 5 miles south on the Ridgeline Trail and meet hikers hiking north from South Carolina’s Kings Mountain State Park.
More info: (704) 853-5375

Dismal Swamp State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Visitor Center
Hike on the Supple-jack Trail.
More info: (252) 771-6593 to sign-up.

Elk Knob State Park
2:30 p.m.
Meet at: Summit Trail parking lot
Bring some water and plan for a 2.5- to 3-hour outing in the elements.
More info: (828) 297-7261.

Eno River State Park
2 p.m.
Meet at: Fews Ford Access
Sponsored by Eno River Association, hikes of 2 and 4 hours.
More info: (919) 620-9099,,

Fort Macon State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Fort parking lot
Leisurely hike along the inlet beach to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area.
More info: (252) 726-3775

Goose Creek State Park
2 p.m.
Meet at: Ivey Gut Parking Lot
Guided 4-mile hike.
More info: (252) 923-2191

Gorges State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Bearwallow Picnic Shelter
Moderate 1.5mile hike.
More info: (828) 966-9099

Grandfather Mountain State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Profile Trail
First portion of Profile Trail.
More info: Ranger Appling 828-963-9522

Hammocks Beach State Park
8:30 a.m.
Meet at: Visitor Center Back Porch
45-minute hike around park grounds
More info: (910) 326-4881

Haw River State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Haw River State Park
More info: (336) 342-6163

Hanging Rock State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Hanging Rock Trail Head
Five Overlooks Challenge: 10-mile hike takes in park’s five main scenic mountain overlooks.
More info: (336) 593-8480

Jones Lake State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Visitor Center
Hike through the bay forest
More info: (910) 588-4550

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
1 p.m.
Meet at: Old Oak Trail at Ebenezer Recreation Area
Easy, 1-mile hike on Ebenezer Old Oak Trail
More info: (919) 362-0586

Kerr Lake State Recreation Area
2 p.m.
Meet at: Satterwhite Point Office
Park ranger-led stroll through the Kerr Lake woods
More info: (252) 438-7791

Lake James State Park
2 p.m.
Meet at :the Paddy’s Creek Bridge parking area
1.5-mile roundtrip on the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
More info: (704) 528-6350

Lake Norman State Park
1 p.m.
Meet at: Park office
Strenuous 1.5-hour hike
More info: (704) 528-6350

Lake Waccamaw State Park
3 p.m.
Meet at: Visitor Center
Wear closed shoes and long pants.
More info: (910) 646-4748

Lumber River State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Princess Ann Access
Hike through six habitats along the banks of the Lumber River.
More info: (910) 628-4564

Mayo River State Park
11 a.m.
Meet at: Parking lot near picnic shelter
1.8-mile Mayo Mountain Trail
More info: (336) 427-2530

Merchants Millpond State Park
9:30 a.m.
Meet at: Visitor Center
2+ miles on Lassiter Bennett’s Creek trails.
More info: (252) 357-1191

Medoc Mountain State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Picnic Shelter
2 miles on the Stream Loop and Discovery Loop trails.
More info: (252) 586-6588

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
2 p.m.
Meet at: Picnic Area
Hike an Appalachian mountain forest
More info: (336) 246-9653

Morrow Mountain State Park
1 p.m.
Meet at: Lower Picnic Area Parking Lot
Strenuous 2-mile hike up Hattaway Mountain.
More info: (704) 982-4402.

Morrow Mountain State Park
9 a.m.
Meet at: Lower Picnic Area parking lot
.6-mile hike along a freshwater creek.
More info: (704) 982-4402 and let us know that you will be participating in this event.

New River State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: US 221 Access
1.5-mile hike to the river and back
More info: (336) 982-2587.

Pettigrew State Park
2 p.m.
Meet at: park office
Leisurely hike on and off trail
More info: (252) 797-4475

Pilot Mountain State Park
1 p.m.
Meet at: Summit parking lot
Hike Jomeokee Trail
More info: (336) 325-2355

Raven Rock State Park
1 p.m.
Meet at: Picnic Shelter
2.5-mile hike
More info: (910) 893-4888

Singletary Lake State Park
2 p.m.
Meet at: park office
Half-mile hike
More info: (910) 669-2928

South Mountains State Park
10 a.m.
Meet at: Jacob Fork parking area
2.75-mile hike
More info: (828) 433-4772.

Stone Mountain State Park
1 p.m.
Meet at: Lower lot display case
3-mile hike past Hutchinson Homestead and Stone Mountain then out and back to Lower and Middle Falls.
More info: (336) 957-8185

Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve
8 a.m.
Meet at: Visitor Center
2-mile bird walk hike
More info: (910) 692-2167

Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve
2 p.m.
Meet at: Weymouth Woods Visitor Center
1.5-mile hike that takes in the oldest known longleaf pine in the world, at 465 years of age
More info: (910) 692-2167.

William B. Umstead State Park
9 a.m.
Meet at: Reedy Creek Shelter #1
2-mile round-trip on Company Mill Trail to Crabtree Creek
More info: (919) 571-4170

2 p.m.
Meet at: Crabtree Creek Picnic Shelter #1
1-hour hike
More info: (919) 571-4170

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