If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier, head to any of Virginia’s 38 state parks on Jan. 1 for a First Day Hike. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will offer more than three dozen hikes on more than 30 state lands and parks, as part of a nationwide event sponsored by America’s State Parks.
All of the Commonwealth’s parks will waive admission fees that day to encourage residents to start the New Year right. The first 100 visitors to each park will receive a commemorative bumper sticker. And the parks aren’t just open for hikes, there are also options for strolling, biking, horseback riding, rambling, and wildlife viewing.
For a complete list of scheduled hikes and programs for Jan. 1, 2019.
Bear Creek Lake State Park, Cumberland
Location: Bear Creek Hall
From 10:30 a.m. to noon the Friends of Bear Creek Lake State Park will be at Bear Creek Hall to provide snacks and warm/cold refreshments. Donations requested. Two guided walks will be provided, the Resolution Hike at 11 a.m. and Strollers with Strollers at 3 p.m.
Belle Isle State Park, Lancaster
Location: Visitor Center
Come for a morning stroll along Deep Creek Trail to discover some of the history of Belle Isle State Park all while taking in picturesque views of the river, marshes and fields. This hike will be about 1 mile round trip over easy trails and paved road. Pets are welcome, but please keep them on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
Caledon State Park, King George
Location: Picnic Shelter
The Legendary Christmas Opossum has come again and has hidden ornaments around the Fern Hollow Trail. Take an easy one mile hike and help find them and earn a holiday reward. There will be hot chocolate and a warm fire after the search. Contact the park to register at 540-663-3861.
Chippokes Plantation State Park, Surry
Location: Jones-Stewart Historic Area
From 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Discover the Trace – this 2 mile hike will take visitors on a journey to discover what is left of the original road that took travelers from Bacon’s Castle to the river. Dress warm. Space is limited to 25 guests, please contact the park office to save a seat. 1 to 2:30 p.m. – James River Walk – The hike will be about 3 miles round trip long grassy, sandy, and hilly terrain. Meet at the Jones-Stewart Mansion Parking Lot. Due to the terrain, the hike is not accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Noon to 4 p.m. – Jones-Stewart Mansion Tours – Warm up inside the mansion and take a tour before, during, or after the James River Walk. The last tour begins at 3:15 p.m. The tour will include a short walk through the first floor, then up the staircase and through the second floor. Meet on the back porch of the mansion.
Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin
Location: Water’s Edge Meeting Facility
Guided Hikes-Karst Hike at 11 a.m. – Join Brenda Graff on a two mile hike in search of vernal pools. Two-Loop Hike at 1:00 p.m. – Join Mary Rhoades for a three mile hike for all ages. Dog Hike at 3 p.m. – Join a ranger on a two mile walk with your four-legged loved ones. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet and you must clean up after them. Self-Guided Hikes-Our trail maps will guide you along any of our seven clearly marked trails.
Douthat State Park, Millboro
Location: Discovery Center Parking Area
This 0.79 mile moderate hike will follow Tobacco House Ridge Trail from the intersection of Blue Suck Falls Trail to White Oak Campground and will offer an outstanding view of Douthat Lake. Don’t forget your field guides, nature journals, binoculars, and camera. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Fairy Stone State Park, Stuart
Location: Stuart’s Knob Trail Parking Lot
At 10 a.m. a park ranger will guide a mile long hike through the Stuart’s Knob trail system telling the history of the park through the years, from the Native Americans to present day operations, with special history of the iron mines in the mountain.
False Cape State Park, Virginia Beach
Location: Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge for transport to False Cape
Start at 1 p.m. at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge with a Terra Gator ride down the beach to the Virginia-North Carolina border, followed by a 2-mile round trip hike along the Monument Trail to the monument, where you will learn about the land dispute between Virginia and North Carolina and how it was resolved. Reservations are required, space is limited. To make a reservation call (757) 426-7128. Fee: $8 per person.
First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach
National Event 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.First Day Hike
Location: Meet at the Trail Center
Experience the splendor and the beauty of the Bald Cypress Swamps and maritime forest on this 1 mile guided hike. Bring water, binoculars, and a camera. Dress appropriately for the weather. Two hikes will be offered, one at 11 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m. Each will be approximately 1 hour long.
Grayson Highlands State Park, Mouth of Wilson
Location: Massie Gap Parking Area
At 1 p.m. an interpretive ranger will be your guide on the Rhododendron Trail along the rocks and balds of Wilburn Ridge. The views along the trail inclue snow capped mountains, and you may even see the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands. This moderate hike will be a total of 2 miles, dress warmly.
High Bridge Trail State Park, Green Bay 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Camp Paradise
Bring Fido out at 11 a.m. for a First Day Hike for dogs. This hike will be a 1 mile hike under High Bridge. Dress for the weather, wear closed-toed shoes, and bring any supplies you or Fido may need. Your dog must be on a 6 foot leash. Retractable leashes, voice command, and wireless leashes/shock collars do not qualify as a 6-foot leash.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Take a 1 mile hike and history tour around Camp Paradise Fort and over the bridge. Enjoy refreshments provided by the Friends of High Bridge Trail. Please wear athletic shoes, dress appropriately for the weather, and bring plenty of water.
Holliday Lake State Park, Appomattox
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at shelter #2
Discover the secret traces that animals leave behind at Holliday Lake. This hike is about a 1 mile round trip on moderate terrain using sections of Lakeshore Trail and Northridge Trail and will last approximately an hour.
Around the Lake At 1 p.m. this guided hike around Lakeshore Trail will include stops at Northridge Overlook, Holliday Creek, and the famous 50 foot tall Holliday Lake Dam. This nearly 7 mile trip is on moderate to sometimes difficult terrain and will last almost three hours.
Hungry Mother State Park, Marion
8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Take your choice of three self-guided hikes narrated by either an Army Officer, a CCC boy, or a park guest and let them walk you through the relics and stories of Hungry Mother. Wear hiking shoes and warm clothes and remember to bring water. Pick up self-guided tour booklet at Discovery Center front desk.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.First Day Hike at Clyburn Ridge Trailhead
A section of the Clyburn Ridge Loop Trail will take you to Lake Vista. After time for pictures, we will head back down the Clyburn Hollow Trail.
James River State Park, Gladston 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
From the visitor center hike up to the Tye Overlook. Make sure to bring your camera for pictures at the overlook. The round trip will be approximately 1.5 miles on a portion of Cabell Trail, with the first half being uphill to keep us warm, but the return trip is all downhill.
Kiptopeke State Park, Cape Charles 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Meet at the Gazebo in the Picnic Area. During two 2 hour hikes, a park interpreter will guide you through an upland maritime forest, along Chesapeake Bay coastal dunes, and across open meadows of reclaimed farmland. Along the way you will find a freshwater pond, wildlife viewing blinds and several bay overlooks from which you can observe deer, fox, turkey, and other wildlife. Join the morning hike at 9 a.m. or at 2 p.m.
Lake Anna State Park, Spotsylvania 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Two hikes, each a 1.5 mile round-trip, are planned. After each hike there will be a warm fire for roasting marshmallows, cocoa and cider waiting to greet you upon your return to the Visitor Center.
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Overlook Trail 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Railroad Ford Trail This is a great time of year to observe migrating water fowl on Lake Anna. Limit 25, please pre-register by calling the Visitor Center and leaving a message with your name, contact phone number and number in your group at (540) 854-6245 or contact [email protected]
Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Start with a quick tour of the history museum, then walk down the Potomac Trail, to Freestone Point, through Lee’s Woods Trail, and back to the Visitor Center. There will be 2 hikes. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Reserve by December 30 to [email protected] or call 703-583-6904.
Mason Neck State Park, Lorton 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Three guided hikes offered: At 10 a.m. is a 3.5 mile hike of moderate difficulty but at an easy pace. This hike includes our Kane’s Creek and Eagle Spur Trails. At 11 a.m. will feature a fast-paced, heart pumping hike incorporating several trails that will cover 5.5 miles. This hike includes Kane’s Creek, Dogue, Meadow View, Wilson Spring, and Bay View Trails.A t 3 p.m. is a leisurely stroll on the Bay View Trail covering 1.0 miles and at an easy pace.
Natural Bridge State Park, Natural Bridge 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
2 hikes planned for all ages and abilities. Be sure to dress for the weather, wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring along plenty of water. 11 a.m. – Legends of Natural Bridge: Meet in the front of the Visitor Center. From geology to biology, Jefferson to Coolidge, and creek beds to caverns, learn about the history and hear stories about the park on this half-mile hike. For more information call (540) 291-1330.
1:00 p.m. – Natural Tree-Sources: Meet at the Monacan Trail Head From the furniture in our homes to the food we eat, trees provide many things that we utilize every day. On this 2-mile guided hike on the Monacan Trail, a ranger will reveal the hidden treasures from some of the trees found here at the park. Call (540) 291-1330 for additional information.
Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield 6:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at various locations in the park
6:45 a.m. – Sunrise Hike. Catch the first sunrise of 2019. Join the interpreter on a guided hike on a portion of the Wildlife and Birding Trail. When we reach the Gazebo, enjoy the views right as dawn breaks. This trail is a moderate 1.2 mile roundtrip. Bring plenty of water, a camera, and a flashlight. Meet at the Blockhouse Parking Lot.
1:00 p.m. – Tunnel Vision. The hike will begin along the Stock Creek Trail to see the North Portal of the Tunnel. Afterwards, you’ll continue onto the Tunnel Trail which will lead you down to view the South Portal of the Tunnel. Roundtrip, this will be a 2 mile hike. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.
New River Trail State Park, Max Meadows
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Hoover Mountain Bike Area in Hiwassee
Meet at New River Trail’s Hoover Mountain Bike Area. Hikers will take a 1.1 mile hike along the Miner’s Loop Trail with park rangers, while bikers will be able to explore the 3.2 miles of mountain bike trails. Parking access is about half a mile from the Hoover Mountain Bike Area at the Allisonia boat ramp.
Occoneechee State Park, Clarksville
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Meet at the visitor cente for a ranger-led hike of the Plantation Trail. Learn the history of plantation life in Mecklenburg County. The hike should last less than 1 hour.
Pocahontas State Park, Chesterfield
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Various Locations Within the Park
Dec. 31, 11 p.m. New Year’s Night Hike. For more information and to register call 804-796-4255.
- 8:45 a.m. New Trail Hike. Moderate 4.1-mile hike north of Swift Creek Lake. Ages 18+ no children or pets.
- 8:45 a.m. Going on a Bear Hunt. Story and hike for those with special needs.
- 9:45 a.m. Group Camp 7 Hike, 5-mile hike to learn more about the history of the park.
- 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Explore the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and Visitor Center.
- 10:45 a.m. Little Tyke Hike, for children 6 and under. Stroller friendly, less than one mile. 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Orienteering with Central VA Orienteering Club.
- 12:45 p.m. Hike for the Masses, moderate 3-mile loop designed for everyone and leashed pets.
- 1:45 p.m. Bike with a Ranger, easy 6-mile ranger led bike ride. Suitable for 7 and up.
- 2:45 p.m. Swift Creek Dam Hike, for all ages. Meet at Swift Creek Banquet Hall for approx 1-mile loop. Starting at 11 a.m. grab a complementary cookie at the Visitor Center or visit our Food Truck.
Powhatan State Park, Powhatan
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Location: Shelter #3 and Playground Area
History of the Park (10-11 a.m.) Meet at Shelter 3A two mile historical hike on River, Gold Dust, and Turkey Trail. Learn about the park’s history and how the natural resources have changed over time. What’s That Tree I See? (1-2 p.m.) Meet at the Playground Area.A one and a half mile hike on Big Woods and Cabin Trail. A park ranger will identify trees and guide you along several picturesque trails.
Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park, Rice 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Sailor’s Creek Battlefield – Hillsman House
Experience the new Wheaton Trail. Named after Brigadier General Frank Wheaton, commander of the First Division of the Union VI Corps (Army of the Potomac), the 0.7 mile long, grass-covered pathway starts at the Hillsman House and ventures down the sloping field to Sailor’s Creek before turning back toward the house in a wide-ranging loop, on the same ground General Wheaton’s troops used to march into battle. Approx. 90 minutes.
Shenandoah River State Park, Bentonville 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Meet at the Visitor Center
Join the Friends of Shenandoah River State Park for a half mile hike down Overlook Trail to the Culler’s Overlook.
Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane
5:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The main gates on Edmonds Lane will open at 5:30 a.m. Hike from the Backcountry Trailhead to enjoy sunrise at one of the overlooks on the Piedmont Overlook Trail, South Ridge Trail or the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail. At 11 a.m., hike with park rangers as they interpret the stories reflected in the landscapes of Sky Meadows State Park. Discover remnants of an old road bed, explore the park’s wild side, and uncover stories of past residents. Join us after the hike for light refreshments in the Log House and a tour of historic Mount Bleak House.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Huddleston
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Hike on your own or choose our ranger-guided hike: Walton Creek/Striper Cove – Enjoy winter views of Walton Creek, then follow the Whitetail Path connector trail to Striper Cove Trail. Here we’ll pass through a newly created wildlife opening and see signs of early forest succession. The ranger will lead you on a scavenger hunt to discover winter’s hidden secrets in nature. This hike is approximately 1.5 miles and is rated as moderate.
Southwest Virginia Museum, Big Stone Gap 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Southwest Virginia Museum Front Gate
C. Bascom Slemp, former Congressman and President Coolidge’s private secretary, Thomas and Julius Jones, both players in the NFL, and nationally known authors, Adriana Trigiani and John Fox Jr. all called Big Stone Gap home. This town is packed full of history and folklore. Join a guided walking tour of the museum grounds and along the Greenbelt Trail of Big Stone Gap. This hike will also focus on some of the historic homes in the area. Participants will meet the ranger at the museum’s front gate the day of the hike.
Staunton River State Park, Scottsburg
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Hike on the River Bank Trail and talk about the history of the Staunton River and the State Park.
Staunton River Battlefield State Park, Randolph
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Location: Clover Visitor Center
A ranger will guide you through Edgewood Nature Trail, which winds through the woods and parallels wetlands. Learn about the wildlife found in the area and how they stay warm and cozy during the winter months. Meet at the Clover Visitor Center where warm beverages will be served. The hike is about 0.7 miles.
Twin Lakes State Park, Green Bay 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Location: The “Spot” Concession Stand
Twin Lakes is kicking off 2019 with two First Day Hikes that will explore many different park resources: 10 a.m.: Goodwin Lake Resolutions Hike – This 1 mile walk takes guests around Goodwin Lake trail, where evidence of beavers and other wildlife that inhabit the lake can be seen. 1 p.m.: Walking the Otter’s Path – This 1.5 mile hike features the historic Between the Lakes Trail and a section of Otter’s Path. Along the journey a ranger will tell the story of Twin lakes and keep an eye out for animal activity.
Westmoreland State Park, Montross 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Big Meadows Trailhead
Hike with a park ranger to Fossil Beach and the boardwalk over the marsh to learn about the park, and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Opportunities to hunt for shark teeth will be provided. The hike will be just over 1.2 miles and is rated easy. Pets are welcome.
Widewater State Park, Stafford
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Start off your new year at Virginia’s newest state park. Park rangers will join you on a 1 mile hike and give a brief history of what makes the Widewater peninsula a unique place.
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Animals of Widewater
Winter In the Woods at Widewater. Join Park Rangers as we search the woods for the animals that make their home at Widewater for the winter. Park Rangers will help children understand the ways the animals survive the cold winter outdoors. Open to all ages but specifically designed for ages 4-12.
Wilderness Road State Park, Ewing 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Wilderness Road Trail and Historic Martin’s Station, Indian Ridge Trail
Take a special winter-themed self guided hike around Martin’s Station and the park’s new Native Camp (about 1.5 miles) from a modern setting into a glimpse of the 18th century Virginia frontier. Hikers will visit seven stops with information about the bison that grazed in the area, the river cane Boone tagged the Beargrass, the Native Camp Winter House and Summer House, Joseph Martin’s first cabin, the blacksmith shop, Martin’s Station fort, and the Robinson cabin; an authentic 18th century structure recently relocated to the park. Find hike brochures at the park visitor center.
Join our ranger for an informative nature hike along the Indian Ridge Trail with a winter-based theme. The guided hike begins at 2 p.m. Meet at Picnic Shelter #2.
York River State Park, Williamsburg 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Amphitheater behind the Visitor’s Center
The Pamunkey Overlook is at the bottom of a steep bluff along the York River. The observation platform offers a commanding view over the cord grass and across the river to Wererocommico, where Chief Powhatan once ruled Tidewater Virginia. We will cover a little over 4 miles. Bring water and a lunch/snack. Be prepared to pack in/pack out.
We will also have a shorter hike around Woodstock Pond through the quiet Beaver Trail. It is narrow with one steep ravine and surrounded by a mix of pines and hardwoods. This trek ends with a gorgeous view of the river and pond leading back up to the Visitor Center. Dogs on leashes are welcome.