Tom Joyce Staff Reporter
December 28, 2013
PILOT MOUNTAIN — If a New Year’s resolution includes telling someone to take a hike, they will be able to do so on Wednesday through a special event at Pilot Mountain State Park.
The local facility will join other state parks in participating in an annual First Day Hike program which has become a Jan. 1 tradition across North Carolina. The aim of the program is providing opportunities for the public to start the new year with exercise and reconnecting with nature.
“Every North Carolina state park actually has a First Day Hike,” Jesse Anderson, a ranger at Pilot Mountain, said in reference to the events at all parks and state recreation areas.
“And it’s really just to promote getting folks outdoors and being active,” Anderson added Friday.
The event at Pilot Mountain is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Wednesday and will include a hike along Jomeokee Trail. That trail is roughly a mile long and loops around the big pinnacle at the park. It has been described as an easy stroll with a moderate slope and minimal up-and-down terrain.
“One of our rangers will be joining the individuals with the First Day Hike,” Anderson said, “and he’ll probably talk a little bit about Pilot Mountain geology and a little bit about the history of the park.”
Participants are asked to meet the ranger at the display board on the upper side of the summit area parking lot.
The First Day Hike program has operated since 2011 at Pilot Mountain and other locations, and has become a tradition for many.
One might think an outdoors event in January represents an incompatibility, that hasn’t been the case based on attendance each year. “There’s usually a good turnout,” Anderson said.
“It’s recommended to check the weather and dress appropriately,” he advised. Conditions are expected to cooperate Wednesday, based on forecasts calling for partly cloudy skies and highs in the lower 40s.
In the past two years, hikers in North Carolina have joined rangers and volunteers to walk more than 6,000 miles on state park trails on New Year’s Day, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. This year, more than 40 hikes are scheduled statewide, ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to four-mile treks, many of them offering interpretive programs along the way,
All state park facilities will remain open on New Year’s Day.
“As the holiday season draws to a close, First Day Hikes are an excellent way to relax, lose the stress and connect with the outdoors and the rich natural resources that distinguish North Carolina,” Brad Ives, assistant secretary for Natural Resources at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said in a statement.
“We want to remind everyone that the state parks are a year-round resource for exercise, education and enjoyment for more than 14 million visitors.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.