Claytor Lake State Park is among several state parks with special events planned for Jan. 1, 2023
Put your best foot forward and start off the new year with an outdoor adventure at any of the Virginia State Park locations.
First Day Hikes have become a tradition for many people and it is the perfect opportunity to get some exercise, explore outdoors and connect with nature all while enjoying the park’s unique beauty this season.
Parking is free at all Virginia State Park locations on Jan. 1, 2023 and visitors to each park will receive a celebratory First Day Hike sticker while supplies last.
Whether you prefer to partake in a solo adventure or want to join in on the fun of ranger-led hikes and activities, the parks have your back with numerous ways to help elevate your experience during your visit.
Check out the full list of First Day Hikes at www.virginiastateparks.gov/firstdayhikes.
Here are some locations to consider for your First Day Hike:
If you are looking for a moderate to advanced hike to ring in the new year, Pocahontas State Park is the place for you. The park offers a New Year’s Eve hike starting at 11 p.m. that explores a 2.3-mile portion of Lakeview Bike Trail, which is not commonly open to hikers. The event is free, but registration is required by calling 804-796-4472 or emailing Rebecca.email@example.com. Additional hikes on various trails are offered at 8 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
Sky Meadows State Park provides an opportunity for you to celebrate the new year by watching the sunrise. On January 1, 2023, the park gates on Edmonds Lane will be open at 5:30 a.m. so you can enjoy a self-guided hike from the Backcountry Trailhead to view the sunrise at one of the overlooks on the Piedmont Overlook Trail, South Ridge Trail or the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail. There are ranger-led hikes available at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Claytor Lake State Park will open at 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, giving visitors the opportunity to watch the sunrise and partake in various hikes and activities. You can join a Virginia Master Naturalists on a short hike in search of different bird species at 10 a.m., learn to make syrup at noon and take a hike to the vernal pool at 2 p.m. Relish the evening by viewing the lights on the lake from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. by taking a walk down to the gazebo behind the Howe House.
Twin Lakes State Park offers a 3-mile Otter’s Path trail for First Day Hikes. You must stop by the park office first to grab the geocache list for your hike and make sure to download the geocaching app before visiting. For First Day Hikes, each Otter’s Path Trail cache will contain a card with information about people important to the history of the park, allowing guests to learn more about the story of this site while on the trail.
Natural Tunnel State Park offers a guided hike to Lovers’ Leap where park rangers tell you the tale of the star-crossed lovers. The hike is around 2 miles long, begins at 9 a.m. and has several inclines and declines.
If you are in or near the Virginia Beach area, visit First Landing State Park for a guided hike on Bald Cyprus Trail. You will meet at the Trail Center picnic tables for this one-hour long hike that is offered at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. or you can enjoy a self-guided hike on the many other park trails.
York River State Park, located in Williamsburg, offers a guided hike from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. along the banks of the York River and Woodstock Pond. The hike will cover 1.5 miles through upland woods and will end along the York River shoreline. You can also enjoy a self-guided adventure along the several other hiking and multi-purpose trails.
Share your first day hike adventures with us on social media by using the hashtags #vastateparks and #firstdayhikes.
Submitted by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation