First Day Hikes: The 2016 centennial of North Carolina’s state parks system will launch with guided First Day Hikes on January 1, the perfect chance to begin the New Year with exercise and a reconnection with nature. Here are the hikes near Asheville:
First Day Hike at Chimney Rock Park: First time at Chimney Rock! Meet at 8 AM at the front gate (road doesn’t open for traffic until 10 AM) and hike up to the top, led by State Parks Superintendent James Ledgerwood. Free hike includes admission for the full day!
First Day Hike at Mt Mitchell State Park: Join a ranger for a walk along the Balsam Nature Trail, 0.75 miles. Remember it’s usually 15-20 degrees cooler on the summit than in Asheville. Meet in the upper summit parking area at 1 PM. Free. (Parkway is closed south of Mt. Mitchell. From Asheville, reach the park via NC 80 from Marion, then south on the Parkway.)
First Day Hikes at Gorges State Park, 9 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM led by rangers. Free. Arrive early to get details at Visitor Center.
First Day Hike at South Mountains State Park: Hike with a ranger to the 80-foot High Shoals waterfall. The 2.75-mile hike will last about 1.5 hours. Offered at 10 AM and 2 PM.
First Day Hike at Lake James State Park: Join Ranger Clay Veasey on the Paddy’s Creek Trail for a 2-mile hike at 10 AM