Local parks offering First Day Hikes

Holly Viers • Dec 26, 2019 at 2:30 PM

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get active, local parks want to help you start the year on the right foot with First Day Hikes.

The hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to exercise and get outdoors. On New Year’s Day, hikers in all 50 states will hit the trails of their local parks.

More than 55,000 people of all ages participated last year, hiking a collective 133,000 miles — more than 50 times the length of the continental United States. Here are a couple of ways to participate locally.

Bays Mountain Park

Join Bays Mountain Park staff on a moderate guided hike around the frost-covered lake. Following the Lakeside Trail, hikers will complete an energizing 2.75-mile route on a crisp, quiet New Year’s morning. Participants should dress appropriately for the weather and bring a water bottle.

“This hike is a perfect way to get energized for the rest of the year,” said Megan Krager, senior naturalist, in a press release. “It’ll feel great to already start checking off your resolutions on day one.”

The free hike begins at 10 a.m. in the parking lot outside the Nature Center and will last until noon. The park will be closed to the public on Jan. 1, so only those registered for the hike will be allowed in. Hikers must preregister by Dec. 29; the hike is limited to 50 participants.

To register or for more information, call (423) 229-9447.

Natural Tunnel State Park

Located in Duffield, Natural Tunnel State Park will host multiple free hikes on New Year’s Day. The complete schedule is below.

6:45 a.m. — Sunrise Hike: Catch the first sunrise of 2020 on a guided hike to the gazebo just as dawn breaks. This trail is a moderate 1.2-mile roundtrip. Meet at the Blockhouse parking lot.

10 a.m. — Purchase Ridge Hike: Enjoy a hike to the Purchase Ridge overlook. This moderate trail will meander through the woods, with the opportunity to spot wildlife. Enjoy a view of the tunnel from a distance. This trail is a moderate, 4-mile roundtrip. Meet at the Visitor Center.

1 p.m. — Tunnel Trek: Enjoy a guided hike down the Tunnel Trail to the mouth of the tunnel, viewing the geologic phenomenon in person. The Tunnel Trail is a strenuous 0.5-mile roundtrip. Meet at the Visitor Center.

3 p.m. — Hike for the Tykes: Take a gawk in the woods during this scavenger hunt-themed hike ideal for children ages 3-10. This trail is a moderate 0.5-mile roundtrip. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Park visitors are also invited to stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a self-guided brochure and discover the common trees of the park on an easy 1-mile hike. All hikers are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and bring water.