Get active during First Day Hike in state parks

Start your New Year’s resolution of more exercise and time outdoors with a free hike through one of Virginia’s state parks.

First Day Hike is an initiative of America’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors and allows free admission and parking in all 37 Virginia state parks on Jan. 1.

Jim Meisner, public relations specialist with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, said the parks waive the fee for this special event because park officials believe it’s important to encourage people to start the new year with the new tradition of getting outside.

All 50 states will participate in the sixth annual national event to encourage a healthy lifestyle and ring in the New Year through guided or self-guided hikes. He said that the concept for this event started more than 25 years ago at a Massachusetts State Park and expanded from there.

Meisner added that last year they hosted more than 12,000 visitors in Virginia State Parks and more than 55,000 people across the country participated.

At the Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park in Bentonville, join the Friends of the Shenandoah River State Park at the visitor center for a hike down the Overlook Trail from 1 to 2 p.m. The 1-mile walk takes hikers to the Culler’s Overlook for views of the Shenandoah River. The trail is mostly flat, composed of compacted dirt. Light refreshments will be served at the hike.

“We’ve had great success with First Day hikes because they introduce some people to the outdoors and state parks for the first time,” Meisner said. “If they come out on this special day, have fun and learn what we have to offer in state parks, then we expect we’ve made a new fan for life.”

Participants of First Day Hike will receive a commemorative bumper sticker while supplies last.

First Day Hike contests include a photo contest and the New Year Challenge.

For more information on the contests, visit http://bit.ly/vspfdh2017. Each contest features a grand prize of a $500 gift certificate for overnight accommodations in Virginia state parks.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com.