Step into 2012 and Take a West Virginia Hike

“First Day” Hikes scheduled at West Virginia state parks.

West Virginia DNR
West Virginia DNR

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – -( “First Day” friends and family hikes in four of West Virginia’s state parks are scheduled January 1, New Year’s Day, in 2012.

“We continue to encourage children and parents to get outdoors and enjoy nature,” said Ken Caplinger, chief of West Virginia’s state parks.

“For people looking for a new first day tradition or a reason to start a new exercise program, we think First Day hiking programs will be a popular alternative to sitting inside.”

Massachusetts state parks began offering First Day Hikes more than 20 years ago. The National Association of State Park Directors has issued a challenge to parks directors nationwide to establish First Day hikes. “Hiking can be a year-round activity and winter landscapes and temperatures are perhaps more exhilarating than spring, summer or fall hikes,” said Caplinger.

Four areas in West Virginia accepted the chief’s First Day challenge: Blackwater Falls State Park, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, Kanawha State Forest, and Twin Falls State Park.

Individuals planning to participate in First Day hikes should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to starting time. Participants should wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves and bring water. Hikes will depart on time and return to the starting point. Additional information will be posted on or contact the park direct for more information.

Blackwater Falls State Park
Paulita Cousin, park naturalist, will lead the First Day Hike on the Elakala Trail. Meet at Blackwater Lodge at 10 a.m. The activity will be about one mile with some steps.

Blackwater Falls schedules hikes and nature-based activities year-round basis. The park is noted for hosting the Wildflower Pilgrimage and will be introducing new interpretative weekends in 2012 that include Mountain Biodiversity Adventures in June, Edible/Medicinal/Poisonous Plants in July, and the Nature of Dolly Sods in September with Bill Beatty, and an annual Astronomy Weekend in October.

Blackwater Falls is located near Davis in Tucker County. Canaan Valley State Park and ski area is nearby.

Blackwater Falls State Park: 304-259-5216, [email protected];

Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
Mike Smith, park superintendent, will lead a hike departing from the Droop Mountain park office beginning at 10 a.m. Smith will have a fire going in the workshop and “maybe even some warm apple cider for when we return. Winter hikes are great!”

Smith, an avid hiker and historian, is planning three hikes in 2013 retracing the routes of various regiments of United States Civil War in November1863 as they approached Droop Mountain. To commemorate the Civil War path from Lewisburg, West Virginia (then Virgina) to arrive at Droop Mountain, Smith will depart Lewisburg at about 2 p.m. on November 5, 2013, with arrival at Droop Mountain early morning of November 6, 2013, and cover some 30 miles. Smith will welcome the most hardcore historian hikers to join him. Information and registration information will be available on the park’s website .

Droop Mountain is located near Hillsboro in Pocahontas County. Other state parks in the area include Cass Scenic Railroad, Beartown, and Watoga state parks and Seneca State Forest. The Greenbrier River Trail runs from Caldwell in Greenbrier County north and near these areas and ending at Cass. Watoga and Cass offer cabin and house rentals year-round.

Droop Mountain Battlefield: 304-653-4254, please leave a message;

Kanawha State Forest
Join assistant superintendent, Kevin Dials, office clerk Ken Long and campground volunteer Tom Turner at 2 pm at the swimming pool parking lot. “Bundle up and start the year out right – hike!” advised Dials.

Kanawha State Forest also has a Winter Hike Weekend scheduled January 21, 2012. This activity also begins at 2 p.m. as hikers meet at the swimming pool parking lot. This interpretive hike will be enlightening and educational concerning the forest activity during the winter months. There is a minimal fee to participate in the Winter Hike on January 21. The hike will be led by Doug Wood and is sponsored by the Kanawha State Forest Foundation and Mary Ingles Trail Blazers. Spring and fall hikes are also part of the special hikes conducted at Kanawha State Forest.

Kanawha State Forest is located in Charleston, Kanawha County. Known for its hiking and biking trails, the forest is open year-round for outdoor use. The campground is open seasonally.

Kanawha State Forest: 304-558-3500; [email protected];

Twin Falls State Park
Join naturalist Bryan Danford at Twin Falls State Park at 2 p.m. at the campground store front. Parking will be on the road access to the building. The hike sets off following the campground road leading to and continuing on the Huckleberry Trail. Danford anticipates the hike to last about two hours.

Lore and Tracking Weekend at Twin Falls is scheduled for January 13 – 15, 2012. The weekend steps back in time to the 18th century, when American Indians and European Americans lived closer to nature. Learn some of the skills that were necessary for everyday life, and learn of the cultural sharing that has made our modern lives richer. Enjoy nature, drama, tracking, and history in outdoor and indoor settings. Techniques on animal tracking and identification are part of the weekend. Registration is required for this event and overnight accommodations, activities and meals are included.

Twin Falls Resort is a year-round destination near Mullens and Pineville in Wyoming County. The golf course is open as weather permits. The lodge and vacation cabins are available for rent year-round and offer special rates and deals frequently. The campground is open as weather permits. Hiking and biking are popular due to the rugged terrain.

Twin Falls State Park, 304-294-4000, [email protected];