Start 2022 off on the right foot with a ‘first day hike’ at any of Virginia’s 41 state parks

Outdoors Bound

Enjoy a First Day Hike at First Landing State Park. (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation)

(WFXR) — If you’re looking for a healthy and refreshing way to kick off 2022, how about enjoying the great outdoors with a “first day hike” at one of Virginia’s state parks?

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) says all 41 state parks will offer free parking on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. On top of that, visitors to each park will receive a commemorative sticker while supplies last.

You can choose from the variety of guided hikes and opportunities available at the state parks or you can create your own first day hike. Here are some ideas from the DCR:

  • Join a ranger at Smith Mountain Lake State Park on an easy one-mile hike, including a scavenger hunt to discover winter’s hidden secrets in nature. You can also enjoy the New Year’s Day open house at the Discovery Center after the hike to enjoy hot cocoa and treats, explore the Discovery Room, and learn about the history of the lake and the park.
  • Guided hikes are available every hour from 9 a.m. to noon at Natural Bridge State Park. The approximately 45-minute hike will lead you to great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Burn off some holiday calories with a first day hike in the high country at Grayson Highlands State Park. A park ranger will guide you on a 2.5 mile round-trip hike while teaching you about the weather, geology, and wild ponies.
  • Take a hike through the New River’s mining history as you are guided from the Austinville access of New River Trail State Park through the Austinville Tunnel, and along the former operational site for New Jersey Zinc Company.
  • Another guided hike in the New River Trail State Park will take you from Dannelly Fitness Complex in Max Meadows to Chestnut Falls. This three-mile hike along the old railroad bed will allow you to learn about the history of the Norfolk and Western Railroad and the significance of the industries supported by the railroad while enjoying the scenery along Chestnut Creek.

“Taking a hike to inspire those New Year resolutions centered on getting or keeping fit is the perfect family-friendly activity,” the DCR website states.

For a list of scheduled hikes and programs for New Year’s Day at Virginia state parks, follow this link.

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