2020 starts with hikes at ten State Parks and Forests

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Some West Virginians will be heading outside to mark the start of the Year 2020.

On Wednesday, ten State Parks and Forests in the Mountain State were offering free, guided First Day Hikes for Jan. 1.

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Pocahontas County was one of them.

A planned three-mile hike there was set for 1 p.m. Wednesday starting at the Cass Visitor Center and continuing onto part of the Greenbrier River Trail.

On the way, “We talk a lot about the history of the town, the significance of the railroad, the old company store, the motel, things like that,” said Superintendent Marshall Markley.

“As you get on the trail, the trail hugs the river so, for most of that trail, you’re kind of meandering with the river, so it’s just a really pretty walk.”

Leading the hike will be Kailey Gibson-Price, park intrepreter.

The path is the same, Markley said, as the popular Full Moon Hikes held each month at Cass.

“It’s amazing to me. Sometimes it’ll be eight degrees with the wind chill factor putting it below zero and we’ll get eight or ten people that’ll come be interested and do the whole three-mile hike,” he said.

Nationwide, 50 State Park systems were participating in the First Day Hike Initiative.

At Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County, the hike was to follow the Balsam Fir Trail, about 1.5 miles in length, beginning at the Nature Center located by Pendleton Lake.

The Lake Shore Trail at Pipestem Resort State Park in Summers County, at three miles in length, was to be used for the First Day Hike which will begin and end at McKeever Lodge.

“Winter hiking is a unique experience,” said Sam England, chief of West Virginia State Parks, in a statement.

“Seasonal changes can make the same trail hiked in June unfamiliar in January due to foliage, wildlife activity and temperatures.”

Here is the full First Day Hike schedule in West Virginia:

Blackwater Falls State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Nature Center by Pendleton Lake. Led by Paulita Cousin, Naturalist

Cacapon Resort State Park, 10 a.m.
Two hikes are scheduled, with both starting at the Nature Center. Led by Valerie Chaney, Park Naturalist and Clark Dixon, Master Naturalist

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Cass Visitor’s Center. Led by Kailey Price, Naturalist/Interpreter, and Marshall Markley, Superintendent

Chief Logan State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Museum in the Park. Led by Lauren Cole, Naturalist

Holly River State Park, 11 a.m.
Meet at the Anderson Activities Building. Led by Doug Wiant, Superintendent

Kanawha State Forest, 1 p.m.
Two hikes are scheduled, with both starting at the Forest Headquarters. Led by Chris Bartley, Superintendent, and Dave Dendler, Naturalist

North Bend State Park, 10 a.m.
Meet at the Nature Center. Led by Ken Zebo, Naturalist

Pipestem Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at McKeever Lodge Lobby. Led by Julie McQuade, Naturalist

Twin Falls Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at the Falls Trail Parking Lot. Led by Cully McCurdy and Bugs Stover, and Tammy Cooper, Naturalist

Tygart Lake Resort State Park, 1 p.m.
Meet at Tygart Lake Lodge. Led by Jacob Jackson, Naturalist

Participants were advised to arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled hike with water, a snack and in weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy boots or hiking shoes.

At Cass and in other locations in West Virginia’s Eastern Mountains some snow was in the forecast for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

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