Hike into the New Year with First Day Hikes

Kick 2020 off with an adventure by participating in one of the First Day Hikes offered by N.C. State Parks. Parks across the state, and the nation, will host guided hikes on New Year’s Day.

  • Chimney Rock State Park. A group stroll up the 3.2-mile entrance road will commence at 8 a.m., meeting at the park entrance next to Old Rock Café. Usually restricted to vehicle traffic only, the road will be pedestrian-only that morning and admission will be free for hikers. A park ranger will lead an informative discussion about the park’s history during the walk, including a crossing of the bridge over Rocky Broad River, which was first traversed in 1916. A shuttle will be available at the top to return hikers to their vehicles at Chimney Rock Village by 10 a.m., and hikers can return to the park that same day at no charge.
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  • Gorges State Park. Meet at the visitor center at 10 a.m. to join a ranger for a 2.4-mile hike to Upper Bearwallow Falls. All participants must be prepared for cold temperatures and a strenuous hike, also bringing their own food and water. However, hot chocolate and cookies will be provided afterward courtesy of Friends of Gorges.
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  • Gorges State Park. Meet at Bearwallow Picnic Area at 2 p.m. to join a ranger on a kid-friendly 0.8-mile hike to Upper Bearwallow Falls. All participants must be prepared for cold temperatures and a strenuous hike, also bringing their own food and water. However, hot chocolate, s’mores and cookies will be provided afterward courtesy of Friends of Gorges.
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  • Grandfather Mountain State Park. A stroll along the lower Profile Trail will make for an unforgettable winter hike, with the group meeting at the Profile Trail parking area at 1 p.m. Ranger Appling will lead the excursion. This trail section is moderate, and hiking boots are strongly recommended. Participants should bring their own water and snacks, and dress for the weather. No pets, and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
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  • Mount Mitchell State Park. Learn about the park’s unique high alpine environment during a strenuous 2-mile hike atop the Black Mountains ridgeline to Mount Craig, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Deep Gap Trailhead in the picnic area of the Lower Summit Parking Lot. The hike includes an elevation change of 275 feet and will take about three hours, depending on the group’s pace. Winter clothing and insulated hiking boots with traction devices such as crampons are recommended for this time of year. Hikers should bring water and a snack. If the Blue Ridge Parkway or the park is closed due to winter weather, the hike will be rescheduled for the earliest available date. Unsafe trail conditions could also result in a change of plans, with the group instead hiking the three-quarter-mile Balsam Nature Trail.

 

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