Kick Off Your First Day with a Hike

There is a belief that how you spend the first twelve days of the year predicts how you’ll spend the next twelve months, so let’s all start the New Year off healthy and active with a hike on January 1st. Originating twenty years ago in Massachusetts at the Blue Hills Reservation, State Park 1st Day Hikes were designed to promote healthier lifestyles and bring awareness to state parks. Over the years, they’ve become part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to get people outdoors, according to the American Hiking Society. And, every year brings more participation with recent years seeing hikes in all fifty states.

In South Carolina, with over half of our state parks participating, there is no shortage of options. Hikers can spend the New Year in the mountains of the Upstate, our capital city, the wetlands of the Low Country, or anywhere in between. Many of the parks are offering other activities too. Among them are cold water plunges (Aiken, Paris Mountain, Hunting Island, Sadler’s Creek, and Devil’s Fork), a 5K Race (Devil’s Fork) and mountain bike rides (Poinsett, Santee). Park volunteers and staff may be discussing topics such as outdoor or nature photography, wildlife, or park amenities and history. Hot chocolate and refreshments after the hike are also being offered at many locations.

The state parks are not the only ones getting involved in 1st Day Hikes either.  The South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF) will be hosting a 1st Day Hike at Camp Discovery in Blythewood. Participants will be led through meadows and woodland habitats by the Midlands Master Naturalist Association and learn about flora, fauna, and our natural heritage. Prior to the hike children will make their own trail mix and afterwards everyone will partake of deliciously warm hot chocolate. The hike is free but the SCWF does ask for a $10.00 cash or check donation.

All the hikes take place on January 1st but start times, difficulty levels, and age restrictions vary and park admission fees or registration may apply, so always call ahead to the location of your choice. Hikes are designed to encourage everyone to get out and get healthy, and they typically average one to three miles with easy to moderate difficulty levels.  However, more difficult or strenuous hikes are also available such as a 7.2 mile hike at Table Rock.

Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather and dress in layers. Choose durable hiking boots or tennis shoes with closed heels and toes. Also
pack water, snacks, bug spray, sun screen, a small first aid kit, and a camera. For more information on hikes or activities at the state parks, visit the South Carolina State Parks website at southcarolinparks.comTo sign up for the Camp Discovery Hike, visit the South Carolina Wildlife Federation website  or contact Sara Green, SCWF Director of Education at 803-609-4778 or email Sara. To learn more about 1st Day Hikes visit the American Hiking Society or the Americas’s State Park website.

Deanna Anderson is an avid day or section hiker who is hiking her way to becoming an Ultimate Outsider as well as completing the Palmetto Trail.  She is a published author and a freelance writer for The Sumter Item newspaper and Lakeside Magazine. 


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