Editor's note: This annual post has been updated for New Year's Day 2020.
After the stress and sugar that December often brings, parks across the Triangle and North Carolina are offering First Day Hikes on New Year's Day to help us all start 2020 on a more healthful note.
Here's where to find organized First Day Hikes within about an hour drive of the Triangle. If you're looking for a less formal experience and don't want to be pinned down by a particular schedule, we also list a variety of hikes designed for families on our family-friendly hike page
As you look over the list, be sure to note the descriptions to pick the right one for your family based on your abilities and ages and check the link to make sure weather hasn't changed plans.
Wake County First Day Hikes
Marla Dorrel Park in Cary will host a First Walk
along the Hinshaw Greenway from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Jan. 1. Members of the town's Greenways Committee and Cary Teen Council will guide you through the walk. The walk also helps to kick off Cary's New Year New You week
, with discounts on fitness classes.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area offers a challenging hike that starts at the New Hope Overlook Recreation Area, 339 WH Jones Rd., New Hill. It's 10 a.m. to noon, Jan. 1. Hike the Blue Loop Trail, a 2.7-mile trail which has several steep hills. Hikers will enjoy sweeping views of the lake, mature hardwood forests, groves of mountain laurel and more. Plan to meet at the trailhead near the boat ramps at 10 a.m.
William B. Umstead State Park
hosts its First Day Hike
that starts at the parking lot on the Crabtree side off Glenwood Avenue. It's 9 a.m., Jan. 1. The hike has some off trail components, but nothing too difficult, according to the description. Reservations are required
for this one. Call the visitor center at 919-571-4170 to learn more about the hike, whether it's a fit for your family and if there are any spots available.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area
hosts an easy hike
on Fox Trot Trail. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required
as space is limited. Call the park office at 919-676-1027 to sign up. It takes place at 1 p.m., Jan. 1.
Durham County First Day Hikes
Eno River State Park
will offer two hikes starting at 2 p.m., Jan. 1 — a shorter one runs about 2.6 miles and the longer one is about 4.4 miles. Meet at Few's Ford Picnic Area for both. The park's hikes are very popular, so be sure to get there early (even 11 a.m. or noon). It's best to carpool as parking is limited.
And here are hikes planned at N.C. State Parks within about an hour or so of the Triangle ...
Carvers Creek State Park
, just over an hour south of Raleigh, offers three hikes
- a three-mile history hike through areas not open to the public, a 3.5-mile Nature Hike and a one-mile hike for younger hikers. They start at 10 a.m., Jan. 1.
Raven Rock State Park
, about an hour from Raleigh in Lillington, hosts its First Day Hike
at 10 a.m., Jan. 1. Join a park ranger on a two-hour hike to discover some of the natural wonders of this prominent landmark.
Cliffs of the Neuse State Park
, just over an hour from Raleigh in Seven Springs,will host a First Day Hike
at 11 a.m., Jan. 1. The hike is suitable for all ages and will include some discussions about nature-based tradition from around the world.
Medoc Mountain State Park
, just over an hour from Raleigh, will host a First Day Hike
at 1 p.m., Jan. 1. The two-mile guided hike with a park ranger takes place along the Stream Loop and Discovery Trails. Call the park office at 252-586-6588 for more informaiton. The park is at 1541 Medoc State Park Rd., Hollister.
The N.C. State Park system's website lists all of the First Day Hikes
across the state.