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Ring in the New Year with a First Day Hike

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As 2013 comes to an end, many people resolve to be more physically active in 2014. A great way to start the new year off on a healthy foot is a First Day Hike in one of the Virginia State Parks.

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All of Virginia's State Parks will host ranger-led or self-guided First Day Hikes on New Year's Day. Choose the park that's closest to home or take a road trip to explore somewhere new.

Be sure to enter the First Day Hike photo contest. Take a photo of yourself at one of the Virginia State Parks on Jan. 1 and upload to the contest website before 1 p.m. on Jan. 2.

Hikers will enjoy a self-guided hike at James River State Park on New Year's Day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Follow the Cabell Trail near the Visitor's Center to the Tye Overlook to enjoy great views.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and dress for the weather as you hunt for geocaches along the way. The moderate gravel trail wanders through the woods at James River State Park, located at 104 Greenhill Drive in Gladstone.

Head to Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston for a ranger-led First Day Hike. Meet at the Visitor Center at 11 a.m. and enjoy a moderate hike on the Buck Run Trail. Hikes will continue through the day until 3 p.m.

Children are invited to hike with their parents. Bring binoculars to spot Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles or water birds along the hike. Well-behaved dogs are welcome and must be leashed.

Meet at the River Road parking lot at 1 p.m. on New Year's Day for a First Day Hike at High Bridge Trail State Park. The ranger-led hike of about three miles will cross the historic High Bridge.

A short program on the artillery ordnance used during the Civil War at High Bridge will be presented by Billy Graham of Powhatan. Drinks and light refreshments will be provided by the Friends of High Bridge Trail State Park.

Hikers will meet at the Amphitheater at Holliday Lake State Park in Appomattox at 2 p.m. on New Year's Day for a ranger-led hike. The 1.5 mile hike will begin on Lakeshore Trail to the Overlook, go through the picnic area and follow Sanders Creek Trail to the Redbud Campground.

Ring in the New Year with a First Day Hike. Visit the Virginia State Parks website for information about First Day Hikes in all of the parks.

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