This Friday: Welcome the new year with a First Day Hike

Basin Trail, Fort Fisher

It’s long been tradition to welcome the new year with an athletic feat: a bike ride, a run, a dip in the ocean or other suitable frigid body of water. The most popular way — in the populist sense — has been to welcome the new with a walk in the woods. And for the last several years, North Carolina’s State Parks have been helping you do exactly that, by participating in the nationwide First Day Hikes program.

Friday, you’ll find New Year’s Day hikes at nearly every North Carolina State Park; we’ve listed several below. Learn more about these hikes and discover additional First Day hikes by visiting the N.C. State Parks’ First Day Hikes web page, here.


  • Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach: First Day Hike, 10 a.m.
  • Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs: First Day Hike, 2 miles, 2 p.m.
  • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Kure Beach: First Day Basin Hike, 2 miles, 10 a.m.
  • Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach: First Day Hike., 1-mile and 3-mile hikes, 10 a.m.
  • Goose Creek State Park, Washington: First Day Hike, options between a half mile and 1.5 miles, 2 p.m.
  • Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro: Barrier Island Eco-Hike (take the ferry across to Bear Island and explore), noon.
  • Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown: First Day Discovery Hike, 1 mile, 10 a.m. (a second, shorter hike will be held at 1 p.m.)
  • Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville: First Day Hike, 2.5 miles, noon.
  • Pettigrew State Park, Columbia: First Day Hike, short hike, 2 p.m.
Hiking along the Eno
Hiking along the Eno


  • Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain: Two States, One Hike: A First Day Hike, 5-6 miles, 9 a.m.
  • Eno River State Park, Durham: Two hikes, one of 2 miles one of 4, 2 p.m.
  • Falls Lake State Recreation Area, Wake Forest: First Day Scavenger Hunt Hikes at Falls Lake, 10 and 11 a.m., and 1 and 2 p.m. (reservations required)
  • Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury: Hike to Hanging Rock, 2+ miles, 10 a.m.
  • Haw River State Park, Haw River: First Day Hike, 1 mile, 10 a.m.
  • Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Apex: First Day Hike, 2.7 miles, a.m.
  • Lake Norman State Park, Troutman: First Day Hike, 1 mile, 9 a.m.
  • Mayo River State Park, Mayodan: First Day Hike, 2 miles, 1 p.m.
  • Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle: First Day Hike, 2.8 miles, 10 a.m.
  • Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle: Grindstone Trail Hike, 6.6 miles, 10 a.m.
  • Raven Rock State Park, Lillington: First Day Hike, 3-5 miles, 10 a.m. (a second, shorter hike will be held at 1 p.m.)
  • Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap: First Day Hike, 10 a.m.
  • Umstead State Park, Raleigh: First Day Photography Hike, short distance, 8 a.m.
  • Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines: First Day Hike, 1.5 miles, 10 a.m.


  • Mount Mitchell
    Mount Mitchell

    Elk Knob State Park, Todd: First Day Hike, 1 mile, 11 a.m.

  • Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson: A Hundred Year Celebration Hike (“a chronological journey through time and space … . In honor of the hundred year anniversary” of North Carolina State Parks), 10 a.m.
  • Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville: First Day Hike, three-quarters of a mile atop the highest peak on the East Coast, 1 p.m. (Call beforehand to make sure weather hasn’t closed the roads leading to the park: 828.675.4611).
  • South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs: First Hike, 2.75 miles, 10 a.m.* * *

    Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.

Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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