First Day options abound

This week, it’s all about Sunday, New Year’s Day, and First Day Hikes — and First Day Outings. The latter First, first.

On Sunday in North Carolina we enter Year of the Trail, as deemed by the State Legislature. All year, we will celebrate trails of every stripe: natural surface, paved surface, equestrian, hiker, mountain biker, trails of blue. Even our cultural trails. We’ll get into all this in January, but for now we focus on Sunday. And first, those Outings.

Because trails come in various stripes, they are celebrated in various ways this Sunday. For in addition to our decade-long tradition of First Day Hikes, we now have First Day Outings. Outings that include:

  • Chimney Rock State Park’s First Day Hike or Bike, which commences at 8 a.m. from the park entrance near the Old Rock Cafe in Chimney Rock. Hike or bike the 3.2 miles up to the park, an especially alluring prospect for cyclists since no motor traffic will be allowed. Shuttles will be available to get you back down. More info here.
  • Carolina Godiva Track Club New Year’s Day 8K Run, 1 p.m., Hillsborough. Run in the new? Sure, why not, for this nearly 5-mile race that begins in the town’s Gold Park, heads down the Riverwalk along the Eno River, does a lap around the Historic Occoneechee Speedway, then heads back. More info here.
  • Birding and a Hike, 9 a.m., Wilkesboro. Our choice for the day because we’re helping to run it! Join us at 9 a.m. along the Yadkin River for two hours of birding in conjunction with the NC. Wildlife Resources Commission’s NC Bird Atlas project. Use loaner binoculars and hang our with experienced birders to help with the Bird Atlas, a citizen science project intended to give an overview of North Carolina’s bird population. Then, in the afternoon we relocate to nearby Rendezvous Mountain State Park for a ranger-led hike. Learn more and sign up here.

These events and more can be found at the Great Trails State Coalition website, here. 

You might want to bookmark this page, btw, for it is the go-to source for all Year of the Trail events scheduled for 2023. For instance, if you’ve wondered whether local municipalities and counties conduct First Day events, the answer is yes, and you can find several of them at this site.

First Day North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks once again welcomes the new year with 47 First Day events. A sampler:

  • First Day Scavenger Hike, Umstead State Park, Raleigh, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Complete the challenge on the Old Rock Trail, win a sticker! Self-guided. More info here.
  • First Day Hike: Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, 9:30 a.m. One of the more challenging First Day Hikes, this one is an out-and-back from the Visitor Center to Wolf Rock. About 3 miles total. Learn more here.
  • First Day Hike: Eno River State Park, Durham, 2 p.m. Two hikes here, actually, a 4.5-mile outing and a 2-miler. Good thing, because this long-standing event has been known to draw more than 500 people on a sunny day. Held in conjunction with the Eno River Association, which serves post-hike hot chocolate. Learn more here.

Again, 47 First Day Hikes in North Carolina; find details on all of them here.

First Day Virginia

Some of Virginia’s 41 State Parks will hold more than one First Day event. To do so, you need to start early. Such is the case at Sky Meadows State Park, where the first of four First Day events begins at 5:30 a.m., with a sunrise celebration of the new year. Learn more about what’s happening at Sky Meadows here.

Lots of self-guided First Day hikes, lots of ranger-led activities. Check ‘em out here.

No excuses for not starting 2023 with some trail time. Kick off the year on a local trail.

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