January 1, 2023
The North Carolina state parks offer free guided First Day Hikes each New Year's Day, the perfect chance to begin a resolution for exercise and a connection with nature (#optoutside). If rain or snow is in the forecast, call the park office to see if the hike is still on. Here are the 2022 First Day Hikes in the Asheville area of the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills:
- Chimney Rock Park: A rare treat, hike up the 3-mile park road from the village to the top parking area. Take a shuttle back down after (or walk back). Starts at 8 AM. Park in the village and meet rangers at the park stone entrance. Hikers can also return to the park free all day. Advanced registration is required, and attendance is limited to the first 50 registrants. You may register on Chimney Rock's website. Please call the Park office at 828-625-9611 if you have any questions.
- South Mountains State Park: Hike to High Shoals Falls with a Park Ranger. Learn about the park's natural and cultural history as you hike up to the 80 feet tall waterfall. Hikers can choose to do the entire 2.7-mile loop, or an out and back to the waterfall that is 2.0 miles roundtrip. Meet in the Jacob Fork Parking Lot at 1 PM. Phone: 828-433-4772
First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes are organized in all 50 states. Last year, 28,000 people collectively hiked more than 66,000 miles on these hikes across the country.
For more things to do, see our New Year's Guide for parties and more.
Be sure to dress in layers for changing weather conditions. Except the warmest temperatures at Lake James, South Mountains and Chimney Rock. Often, temperatures atop Mt. Mitchell can be 15-20 degrees colder than Asheville.