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Kanawha First Day Hike (copy)

Hikers make their way through Kanawha State Forest during the annual First Day Hike on Jan. 1, 2020.

For those who plan to spend more time outdoors or get more exercise in 2021, five West Virginia state parks and forests are hosting 10 free guided hikes on Friday to give such New Year’s resolutions a jump start.

Friday will be the 10th consecutive New Year’s Day in which the America’s State Parks organization has coordinated First Day Hikes across the nation. Last year, nearly 85,000 people took part in First Day Hikes, collectively hiking 176,366 miles and burning off enough calories to equal the intake from 41,348 fast-food hamburgers, according to the organization.

West Virginia State Parks is urging those taking part in this year’s First Day Hikes to wear face coverings and practice social distancing at trailhead gathering sites and indoor public areas immediately before and after the hikes, and to maintain safe distancing while on the trail.

Those participating are urged to dress for the day’s weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Children should be accompanied by adults. Hikers will receive a First Day Hike patch from their guides at the end of each hike.

In West Virginia, Kanawha State Forest typically hosts the best-attended First Day Hikes, drawing hundreds of cabin-fever sufferers to the 9,300-acre preserve in recent years. On New Year’s Day 2020, more than 400 people turned out there to take part in two hikes.

This New Year’s Day, the Kanawha State Forest Foundation is offering three hikes of varying lengths and terrain challenges to provide variety and help disperse crowds to help accommodate social distancing.

The first KSF hike is a moderate 3.5-mile loop along the Teaberry Rock and Oak Flats trails that begins at 9 a.m. from Picnic Shelter 9, located just off the parking area for the new KSF headquarters building at the former swimming pool area.

It is followed at 11 a.m. by an easy 1.5-mile walk along the CCC Snipe Trail. Those planning to take that hike are asked to meet in the KSF headquarters building’s gift shop before departure.

The final and most challenging hike of the day is a 2-mile trek along the Overlook Rock Trail that departs at 1 p.m. from Picnic Shelter 8, which is closest to the road when entering the parking lot for the new headquarters building.

The state’s other First Day Hikes include:

  • Chief Logan State Park: 1-mile; all-ages hike along Cliffside Trail starting at 10 a.m. from the park office/Museum in the Park.
  • Tygart Lake State Park: A pair of 2-mile hikes along Bus Loop Trail over moderately difficult terrain, departing from the park’s campground. Hikes begin at 10 am. and 1 p.m.
  • Holly River State Park: A 2.5-mile hike on Tramontaine Trail starts at 11 a.m. from the Anderson Activity Building.
  • Cacapon State Park: Three hikes will take place, all starting at 10 a.m. and all departing from the Cacapon Nature Center. Hikes offered are an easy to moderate 2-mile trek with sweeping views along Central Trail; a moderate 3-mile hike covering parts of Tower and Piney Ridge trails and a loop around the park’s upper reservoir; and a 5-mile, four-hour hike described as strenuous on portions of Ziler Loop Trail to the top of Cacapon Mountain.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.